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QCYC’s Interislander Optimist Challenge & South Island Starling - 2014

'Inter Islander Regatta 2014 - Starlings and Optimists'    Christel Hopkins    Click Here to view large photo

Great Marlborough hospitality, a mixed bag of weather, over 150 sailors, their families and supporters plus three days of great racing made last weekend’s Inter Islander again an amazing event.

Day 1
The Friday, the first day of the Optimist challenge started off with a flat but gorgeous Marlborough Sounds and not a puff of wind. While heading out to the start boat the Sounds were like Glass. Slowly the distant fog was giving way and some breeze came in. Race Officer Gerald Martin gave the OK for the Optimists to head out from the beach around 12 pm. The first race started soon after 1 pm. The wind strength varied from 5 to 8 knots and we also had 40 degree shifts, which made it tricky sailing. 3 races were sailed that day with Oliver Cowley of QCYC just missing out on the top 10. NZ highest ranking optimist sailors were well presented in the top 10. Scores of all races are posted on the website almost immediately after each race.

Off the water, sailors were fed by QCYC volunteers and while the sailors enjoyed the chance of a spot price provided by our sponsors, other enjoyed the now famous 'Taste of Marlborough' night.
A very happy crowd enjoyed: Fine wines from Spy Valley and Auntsfield, Cloudy Bay Clams, Picton Village Bakery breads, local olive oils, King Salmon smoked salmon and Sanford Mussels prepared by Pete from Le Café in Picton.

Ian Fyfe received his YNZ Service Award, presented by Kate Spackman, YNZ Regional Support Officer and Terry Nichols, YNZ Chairman of Olympic Committee.

Inter Islander Regatta 2014 - Starlings and Optimists -  Christel Hopkins  
Day 2
Saturday started out with an overcasts sky but soon turned into another hot sunny Marlborough day. Starlings and Optimist headed out early in the day. Again 3 races were sailed with more settled conditions and a fair breeze. The optimist green fleet, sailing in front of QCYC Clubhouse also fitted in 3 races with QCYC sailor Ben Turnbull leading the charge.

Day 3
The open and Starling Fleet headed out with the sun on their sails making an impressive sight. The last day of the regatta brought sunny but gusty conditions. It was particularly challenging for the Green Fleet sailing inside in front of the club as both wind strength and direction varied. From North to South and from being almost stationary to powering downwind, it was a spectacular sight for all on the beach and near the club. Nothing stopped Ben from QCYC and he took the victory for the Greens.

The Starling sailing came with a few damages in the fleet; broken rudders and mast as the conditions outside were more steady but with strong gusts. Five of the QCYC Starling sailors ended up in the top ten, unfortunately not in the top 3. The Open fleet also had their challenges in these conditions but most young sailors stuck it out. 3 races were sailed and the last race was abandoned. The stronger winds were more difficult for Oliver Cowley, being a light weight sailor and he got 21st overall. Conditions were more to the liking of Jack Tripe who pushed himself up and ended in the top 20 as number 19 out of 88 boats. The currently highest listed Optimist sailors were consistent and overall listed in the top 5.

To complete the sailing, a pod of Dolphins joined us at the end of the third day saluting the regatta with a swim through -how very lucky are we to have this all on our doorstep

Inter Islander Regatta 2014 - Starlings and Optimists -  Christel Hopkins   Click Here to view large photo

The 88 Opti strong Open Fleet was won by Lewis Anderson of Kohimarama Yacht Club. Scott Mc Kenzie, also KYC - second and Kerensa Jennings of Murrays Bay sailing Club third.
The highest QCYC listed sailors were Jack Tripe 19th and Oliver Cowley 21st.
It was good to see some of last year’s Green Fleeters holding their own in the Open Fleet, including some of the QCYC sailors.

The Green Fleet consisting out of 45 Optimists was convincingly won by Ben Turnbull of our own Queen Charlotte yacht Club. second Oliver Gilmour of Mac Andrew Bay and third Sydney Gunliffe - LTYC

The Interislander Trophy was convincingly won again by the North Island, the Trophy this year going to Kohimarama Yacht Club. The trophy is awarded by the age group placings in both Optimist Fleets with the 'Island of Origin' winner taking it home.

Of the 21 Starlings, the Starling Championships was won by Blake Woodfield of Lake Taupo Yacht Club. Blake was placed fifth in in the Open Optimist fleet on last Year’s Inter Islander. second was Mathew Woodfield from Naval Point Yacht Club and Henry Haslett from WBC /GBC was Third. The next 4 place were all taken up by QCYC sailors, all sailing there first year in a Starling: Alastair Gifford, Hamish Clarke, Nicholas Gardner and Iollo Adams.
The NZ Starling Championships will be held April 24 to 27 in Whangarei. We might see some of these names on the podium again.

Full results for all Fleets on

The Interislander Optimist Challenge Regatta continues to attract top quality competition from around New Zealand with about two thirds of the sailors coming from the North Island. A National and International Jury, including John Bullot as Chairman, who commented it all ran very pleasant. The Judges make a great effort to be approachable and friendly to the young sailors, ensuring they know the finer points of Sailing.

A few more Comments of some of the officials:
Gerald Martin – Race Officer: ‘The Interislander at QCYC and Sail Auckland are the best organised events in New Zealand.’
Angus Haslett - NZ International Optimist Association President of Auckland: ' As long as I am involved with the Optimist Class, Queen Charlotte Yacht will hold the 'Interislander Optimist Challenge' in Picton as a NZ Ranking regatta, the Club has put on another great regatta that we all love to come to'

The event wouldn't be possible without the time and efforts of Queen Charlotte Yacht Members and supporters, and a special mentioning to a few Waikawa Boating Club members who helped us out with equipment and man power. It is amazing that as a small club just about all get together to make the regatta a success. It is the year’s biggest fundraiser with all profits going into junior and youth sailing development and Club Improvement.

A huge thank you to the Interislander for the generous sponsorship and transport, Port Marlborough, Naiad inflatables, Picton Top Ten Holiday Park, Yachting New Zealand, North Sails, Sail One, Burnsco, Robinsons Construction and Force Racing to name but a few. It would be fantastic if they and more will sponsor us the next time.

Next Year’s Interislander will be February 20 to 22, 2015. So mark this on your calendar. Till then 'Happy Sailing'

by Christel Hopkins


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9:46 AM Thu 27 Feb 2014GMT

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