P-Class North Islands Top Three with NZ’s Top Two - Sir Peter Blake Regatta - P-Class North Islands
As the major lead up event to the P Class nationals in January (hosted by Nelson Yacht Club), the Sir Peter Blake Regatta offered up a testing range of conditions for the even two dozen sailors that battled it out over the weekend.
As with 2011, this event doubles as the P-Class North Island Championship and attracted entrants from well beyond the confines of Auckland and indeed the North Island. There was a strong contingent from each of Murrays Bay Sailing Club, Kohimarama Yacht Club and Hamilton Yacht Club whilst Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club also came to the party as they look to build their fleet back up for when they host the P Nationals in 2014.
Great to see some sailors make the trip from up North and the South Island sending three of their best from as far south as Charteris Bay Yacht Club and of course Queen Charlotte Yacht Club (more about them later).
Testing shifty conditions in a breeze ranging from light to moderate on Saturday meant that everyone was in with a chance and the sailors had to have their wits about them. There were some great individual battles throughout the fleet and is so often the case with the P the race is never over until the fat lady sings as positions frequently changed on the final beat to the finish.
But at the end of Day One it was Oscar Gunn (MBSC) with a slender advantage over Alistair Gifford (QCYC) that were setting the pace. Kate Stewart (WBC/MBSC) and Kerensa Jennings (MBSC) were doing their best to keep the boys honest but looked like battling for third might be as good as it would get. Meanwhile Julia Ebert (HYC) did keep the boys very honest with a well worked win in Race 2.
Sir Peter Blake Regatta - P-Class North Islands
As expected Sunday dawned with a great deal more breeze and a shift to the NW.
Consistent with Saturday the breeze was up and down, but somewhat steadier in direction. It wasn’t quite the roaring 40s but the breeze was well into the high teens for most of the day, frequently into the mid 20s and perhaps the odd squirt into the 30s. Testing conditions indeed for any sailor let alone in a P. Unfortunately over the course of the day there was a relatively high attrition rate due to the conditions and equipment failures, but running repairs enabled some sailors to re-enter the fray (big thanks to the QCYC support team).
A little bit of kidology from Oscar’s dad (David, Commodore MBSC) encouraged Oscar to participate in the final race.
After a titanic battle with Henry in Race 5 both boys were shattered at the finish and Oscar thought he had the regatta in the bag but Dad said 'you need a top 5 in last race to be sure' and sent him on his way again. Oscar didn’t have the energy to quarrel with dad either after Race 5 or 6.
Henry Gibbs (QCYC) had a great day taking three bullets, but with Oscar consistently being in the top three at virtually every mark, he had a bit too much ground to make up whilst Alistair, who hung on to second overall, wasn’t quite able to keep tabs on Oscar. Kate nearly got one over the boys in the final race but was pipped at the post for a hard earned second and only missed out on third overall to Henry on countback.
Of course no regatta is over until after the 'tea and medals' and with Peter Montgomery calling the shots it was very appropriate that the P-Class North Island Championship Trophy was handed over to Oscar by two great P-Class proponents, Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie.