As the start signal sounded for the final of the seven race series three boats were still in the running to take out this year’s Knight Frank South Island Young 88 Championship.
The event sailed on Akaroa Harbour provided a range of challenging conditions and a closely fought contest.
Flying Machine (Craig Edwards) took the gun in the final race but Incantare (Milton Bloomfield) held on to third behind local Akaroa boat Shibbeen (Ryan Thompson). This was enough for Incantare to tie with Flying Machine on 12 points and successfully defend their title from last year on count back.
First time entry Meltdown (Richard Hawkins), travelling up from Dunedin to compete in the event, secured third place on 15 points. Hawkins, a multiple national title winner in the Ross 780, Noelex 22 and Noelex 25 Classes, praised the Race Officer, Alison Rutherford, for her conduct in running the event. 'She did a fantastic job' said Hawkins after racing on Sunday was delayed by 2 hours due to light conditions.
It was a different story on Saturday where a brisk north easterly of 20-25 knots provided exciting sailing for the first 4 races. Incantare took the gun in the first 2 races with Meltdown second and Flying Machine third each time. Flying Machine fought back to win the next two races ahead of Incantare and Meltdown in Race 3 and Hyper Active (Brian Bone) and Shibbeen in Race 4. With the top two places tied after day one it was always going to be an exciting second day.
Meltdown struck first on day two in a tense, light air race that saw the points leaders Incantare and Flying Machine well down the pack. Shibbeen was second followed by Hyper Active. Incantare took race 6 followed by Meltdown and Flying Machine to set the scene for an exciting showdown in the final race.
Incantare retain their title after winning the event in Lyttleton not long after the devastating February earthquake last year. Bloomfield praised his crew for their efforts in getting him through a tough contest this year.
The newly amalgamated Akaroa Yacht Club provided the venue.
'It was great to see such competitive sailing in the event this year' said Layne Harwood, Managing Director of Knight Frank in the South Island. Harwood who sailed on Flying Machine, was impressed with the standard of racing and the good sportsmanship and camaraderie of most of the crews. 'Akaroa is a great venue for this event both on and off the water' he said.
Edwards, who has represented South Island Young 88 owners on the Young 88 Association for the past 3 years, say numbers are down on past events. 'This is not surprising given the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes on peoples lives here' he says. 'Last year we were lucky to have an event at all because of
damage to facilities at Naval Point Club in Lyttelton and the huge impact of February’s earthquake.
The regatta was scheduled for 26 and 27 February, just a few days after the quake. It was postponed several times before finally being held with other events at the end of that season.
Crews met a variety of conditions over the two days - 2012 Knight Frank Young 88 South Island Championships - Richard Macauley Click Here to view large photo
There is still a good Young 88 fleet in Canterbury with 10 boats in Lyttelton and Akaroa. A further 3 in Wellington plus a couple in Marlborough and Nelson give us a good base to build on'.
The inaugural South Island Young 88 Championship was sailed in Lyttelton in 2004/5. Slipstream (Alan Reay) won the event and held onto the title for a further 3 years. Flying Machine won in 2009 before Anthony Leighs on Medium Dry took the title the following year.
Traditionally the event is hosted alternately in Lyttelton (Naval Point Club) and Akaroa (Akaroa Yacht Club). 'The event could be hosted anywhere we are going to get the best fleet' says Edwards. 'This could be Marlborough, Dunedin or even Wellington if it meant getting more boats, but at this stage the biggest fleet is still in Canterbury'. 'What is clear', say Edwards, 'is that this type of close class racing brings out the best in everyone'. 'The level of competition has certainly improved over the years', he says. Next year’s event is likely to be in Lyttelton and hosted by Naval Point Club.
The competitors wish to thank sponsors Knight Frank, Harken, Norths, Oborns Nautical and Thirsty Camel as well as the Young 88 Association for their huge support of the event this year.
Winning crew (actually only 6 up!) Left to right: Ed Ayre (trimmer), Danny Folter (bow), Graham Bloomfield (main), Iain Begg (trimmer), Milton Bloomfield (helm), Matt Sherwood (keyboards) - 2012 Knight Frank Young 88 South Island Championships - Richard Macauley Click Here to view large photo
by Craig Edwards
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9:45 AM Mon 12 Mar 2012GMT
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