Strong winds hit Starling North Islands at Wellington

Start line 2013 Starling North Islands Image: Becky Grenfell
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Sailors from all over New Zealand descended upon Wellington this past weekend for the Seaview Sails and Rigging Starling North Island Championships regatta for 2013, held in Eastbourne and hosted by the Muritai Yacht Club.

Held over three days in what can only be described as boat and sailor breaking conditions, over 50 competitors took to the water in their singlehanded dinghies to contest the nine race series.

The regatta was a closely fought contest, with most of the top positions not decided until the final race. In a fleet that included current two-time National Optimist Class Champion Leonard Takahashi-Fry, Liam Closey of Murray’s Bay Sailing Club took third position, after surviving a protest challenge arising from an incident in the final race.

Arkady sails to victory in Starling North Island Champs
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races completed on Day 1, of the North Island Starling Championships staged at Muritai Yacht Club, Wellington, before lunch but high winds forced abandonment of racing for the remainder of the day.

Four races completed on Day 2. Races 3 to 5 were run in moderate to strong winds, and after the lunch break the wind had moderated to about 15 knots.

Ten minutes before the start of Race 6 - around 3 pm - the wind strengthened again and the race was shortened due to the conditions and high attrition rate.

Alex Wotton of Kohimarama Yacht Club took second place. The eventual winner and new North Island Champion was Arkady Edmunds of Glendowie Boating Club in Auckland, in a dominant performance, which saw him win three of the nine races, and never finish lower than sixth in the whole series.

With winds forecast for over 30 knots on all three days of the regatta, both club officials and sailors were in for a testing weekend. It proved to be exactly that, with a large weather system powering a northerly wind, which never seemed to abate. With strong winds on both the Saturday and Sunday, several competitors lost their masts to the atypical wellington winds and huge swells. The final day on Monday proved only slightly kinder, with the prevailing northerly allowing the final three races to be completed by early afternoon.

Visiting sailors come to grips with the punishing Wellington conditions
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Yacht Club’s Racing Secretary James Sorensen said that the regatta had been 'a great success and had been enjoyed by all the competitors who came to Wellington expecting big winds, and got them by the bucketful.'

'We expected to lose at least one day to the wind, but to have sailed on all three days and completed a full schedule of races was fantastic,' he said.

'This was almost entirely due to us being lucky enough to have the services of Brett Linton as our Race Officer for the regatta, who masterfully handled the challenges thrown down by the weather.'

The club wishes to thank the event sponsors, Seaview Sails and Rigging, Pro Emb and especially all of the many volunteers who gave up their weekends and workdays to ensure the regatta ran smoothly. The club now looks forward to continuing an action packed summer with their 75th Anniversary celebration on the weekend of 16 March, and the Paper Tiger Class Inter-dominion Regatta between Australia and New Zealand from 29 March to 2 April.!Click_here for full results

Starling rescues at the 2013 North Islands. Image: Becky Grenfell
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Starling mast unbending. Image: Becky Grenfell
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Local sailor George Gautrey powers through the swells on Day 2
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