The week of the 2009 New Zealand Finn Nationals held at Lyttelton from 9-13 March 2009 will be remembered for extreme forecasts, extreme weather and great hospitality by the hosts Naval Point Club and the local Finn sailors.
Each day the forecast was for 30+ knots building to 40 and each day all scheduled racing was completed on-schedule on-time and before the forecast weather hit. The only day the weather delivered exactly as forecast was on Wednesday the layday.
Seven North Island Finns traveled to Lyttelton for the regatta joining nine locals to make up a very competitive 16 boat fleet.
Day 1 and the sailors arrived at the club to no wind and a postponement flag to wait for the forecast 30 Knots from the SW. After an hour a 15knot and building breeze duly arrived with a short 1m chop and plenty of tide. Denis Mowbray had the best all round speed in these conditions which should have suited the heavy weights, and if he hadn’t broken his tiller universal would have secured 2 wins. The locals made it very clear early they were familiar with their home waters and had very good speed.
At the second day's briefing we were informed of an approaching storm with NW winds up to 30kts. Race 3 however was sailed in 0<>8 knots from the NE until late in the race when the forecast NW started to arrive. David Hoogenboom and Roger Hall cleared out and built a good lead with David just being pipped on the line by Roger. Race 4 and 5 saw local Andrew MacGregor sail very well and take 2 guns in the building shifty NW wind.
After the day's racing the sailors sat on the viewing deck and watched the extreme weather move in from the south. Locals warned of the forecast weather could be seen arriving and hurriedly removing their boats from the marina to the safety of the inner harbour. A precaution made clear by the sight of old pontoons piled high around the club from when the marina and dozens of boats were destroyed in another similar extreme storm in recent years. As a precaution a number of Finn sailors removed their rigs to wait out the storm that raged through for the next day and a half.
Thursday was again forecast at 30 knots plus from the south however again the wind stayed away until after the racing and we sailed in 10-15 knots. Race 6 saw Raymond Hall in full flight taking the gun. Brother Roger was OCS however came back with a vengeance to take the next 2 guns.
The last day Friday and we started in a good 20kts from the South with Roger Hall taking his fourth gun for the regatta and the series. With the series in the bag for Roger Race 10 was all about securing 2nd and 3rd. Chris Wells got a jump on the fleet with Alan Dawson in pursuit finally chasing him down on the last beat to take the gun. The wind was now up to 30kts and the OOD sent us home with no complaints. Regatta over.
Further reports and pictures can be found on the NZ Finn Web site at www.finnclass.org.nz
1st Overall Roger Hall
1st Junior Jamie MacGregor
1st Master Roger Hall
1st Grand Master Alan Dawson
1st Great Grand Master Ben Winters.