Race Day 1 of the NZ Toyota Optimist Nationals at Wakatere Boating Club in Auckland began with balmy summer conditions and absolutely no wind. The postponement flag was hoisted and a message went out to sailors to be back at 2 pm for a reassessment of the situation.
President of IODA, Peter Barclay, with Peter Dawson of the NZ Optimist Worlds Committee - 2011 Toyota Optimist Nationals, Wakatere, Day 1 - Christine Hansen Click Here to view large photo
With time on their hands, the sailors were 'treated' to an Rule 42 session by International Judge Ross May, and then it was back to digging in the sand, hanging out in the shade and scanning the horizon for a shadow of wind on the water out beyond Rangitoto.
Shortly after 1 pm a light sea breeze was spotted offshore and with it came a buzz of activity as sailors and supporters towed boats onto the beach in readiness to race. At 2 pm the postponement flag came down and the race committee of both the Open and Green fleets attempted to set a course in the 4 knot north easterly breeze.
The Green fleet succeeded in completing one race and the Race Officer, Kim Admore, was pleased to report that it was a great success with 90 percent of the boats finishing within the time limit in difficult conditions – a strong Easter tide with light wind. The first three places went to Jessica Berry of Wakatere BC, Henry Gibbs of Queen Charlotte Sound YC and Aris Shearer of Timaru YC.
In the Open fleet one of the three flights began race one of their series, but this was abandoned due to lack of wind.
Taking all of this in is the President of the International Optimist Dinghy Association, Peter Barclay of Peru, who is on site to observe the New Zealand Nationals which are seen as a forerunner to the Optimist World Championship to be held in Napier at the end of this year. When asked how preparations for the World Championship were shaping up, Peter commented that there was a lot of work to do and a large number of volunteers needed to run the event.
Ross May instructs the sailors on the finer points of sculling - 2011 Toyota Optimist Nationals, Wakatere, Day 1 - Christine Hansen Click Here to view large photo
He also commented that an Optimist World Championship should be run as an event worthy of the top sailors coming from all corners of the globe to choose the 2011 World Champion, but equally important was the need to host an event which was a wonderful learning experience for all competitors. A worthy sentiment, and one which we would like to think applies to all sailing events for junior sailors.
Tomorrow three races of the 14 race series are scheduled, according to Metservice a north easterly breeze will be coming in which will build to 15 knots, so hopefully the Open fleet race committee will have no problems putting three races away.