The Steinlager 18ft Skiff Nationals held at the Auckland Sailing Club over the weekend of January 19-20, was sailed in blustery conditions.
Saturday produced a stronger than predicted southwesterly of around 20-25 knots that caught a few of the 10 boat fleet off guard using their big rigs, including hot favourite and Auckland Champ C-tech.
Race 1 proved to be a cliff hanger race between Yamaha and Events Clothing in the trying conditions. Yamaha led for the first lap before suffering gear failure, which let Events Clothing take the lead. After a quick repair Yamaha was back up to full speed and was able to close the gap then take the lead near the end of the final leg. However a couple of bad gybes close to the finish line by Yamaha let Events Clothing in to take the win by the slimmest of margins. ASCC brought it home in third, followed by the big rigs of C-tech and Fineline Ropes.
Race 2 was just as challenging for the crews, with Maersk Line, Yamaha, Events Clothing, C-tech and ASCC jostling for the lead up the first beat. After a wild ride down to the bottom mark the top three boats of Events Clothing, Yamaha and C-tech had a jump on Maersk Line and ASCC after both succumbed to the tough conditions and had capsizes. The top three stayed neck and neck to the top mark, where a superior hoist by Yamaha saw them slip by Events Clothing. Yamaha held to the finish to take the win ahead of Events Clothing, C-tech, ASCC and the ever improving Yamaha 2.0, sailed by a crew that had been together for just a few weeks.
Race 3 proved to be a two boat show, with Yamaha and Maersk Line opening up a solid lead over the fleet on the first leg. Yamaha went on to take a good win, after extending the whole way around. Maersk Line chased hard and never looked troubled in second place. A foul by Events Clothing at the first top mark let C-tech slip through into a comfortable third position. After completing their penalty Events Clothing came in fourth while Fineline Ropes managed to hold it together to take a solid fifth place.
Sunday turned on fresh to frightening conditions with gusts of 38 knots ripping down the course, so the race committee prudently decided to cancel racing for the day. Since five races are required to constitute a series the Steinlager 18ft Skiff Nationals will be completed once all the boats are back from the JJ Giltinan Trophy in Australia.
Many thanks to Steinlager for their support of the regatta and the Auckland Sailing Club. Also thanks to the race committee as well as Cecile, Dan and Richard for the photographs and video of Saturday's action.
Seven of the boats now ship to Sydney thanks to Maersk Line for the JJ Giltinan starting the 16th of February.