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Tanner Cup retained for 2012 by Waikato-Thames

by John Jennings on 14 Jan 2012
John Adair

The Stack 2012 P-Class Nationals have well and truly kicked off at Murrays Bay Sailing Club with the conclusion today of the Stack 2012 New Zealand P-Class Tanner Cup.

Twelve sailors from the 18 eligible provinces around the country contested this year’s competition. Not surprisingly there was no entrant from Stewart Island, but Marlborough, Nelson, Otago, Southland and Poverty Bay also failed to front with a representative.

Nevertheless, the field included two of NZs leading Opti Sailors (Leonard Takahashi-Fry (representing Wanganui-Manawatu) and Isaac McHardie (Waikato-Thames) directly from their endeavours at the Optimist World Championships that only concluded in Napier two days previously.

The fleet also included the 2010 Tauranga Cup winner (Jayvee Buchanan (Canterbury) and the Great North(ern) Man (Nick-Egnot-Johnson (North Harbour).

Day One (12 Jan) started with a northerly breeze around 5 knots with an easy sea state, and increased during the day to 12 knots and a lumpy sea state. By starting the first race for the second time, after a general recall, under the Blue Peter, race officer Kim Admore made allowance for the nervousness of the sailors. Generally, the fleet disciplined themselves; the ‘Z’ flag being used only once in the four starts. They were undeterred by the 1.5 metre bronze whaler that cruised through the fleet just after the start of Race 3.

Isaac and Nick sailed consistently well all day. Jayvee, who never really hit his straps, kept pressure on them both. It was great to see Scott Inglis (Hawkes Bay), Meghan Butler (South Canterbury), George Gautrey (Wellington), and Lyneche Simkin (Taranaki) mixing near the front. In fact the whole fleet became increasingly tighter as the day progressed. In race three and four, all boats rounded the top mark together, and finished within two minutes of each other.

Leonard was perhaps the unluckiest sailor after rounding the bottom mark incorrectly in Race 1, he failed to 'unwind' himself correctly. He finished fourth, but withdrew himself from the race. In Race 3, Leonard, Taylor Balogh, (West Coast), nicked second and third from Nick and Scott by going left on the short beat to the finish.

At the end of racing on Day 1, only one point separated Isaac in first, and Nick in second with Jayvee in third.
Two races were staged in very brisk condition on day two (13 Jan) as a stiff Norwester took hold with a steady breeze in the mid-high teens and frequent, and sometimes prolonged, gusts well in to the twenties.

Race 5 turned into an absolute cracker with Jayvee establishing an early lead and Isaac on his coat tail. However, two swims in rapid succession at the wing mark saw Isaac drop back into Nick’s clutches and they engaged in a battle for fourth for much of the remainder of the race.

Meanwhile with the stronger breeze more to their fancy George fought his way up to second and Patrina Sheldon (Northland) settled into third. It all looked pretty clear cut at the pen ultimate bottom mark rounding as Jayvee held a commanding lead but over the ensuing upwind and downwind George steadily ate into Jayvees lead and by the final gate rounding was only a couple of boat lengths behind.

An uncharacteristic tactical error by Jayvee immediately prior to the finish line saw George nab a nail-biting finish; and just to prove the sailing gods are sometimes on your side George’s rig came down seconds later when a shackle let go. Meanwhile Isaac got up past Patrina to take third and open up a three point lead over Nick. Unfortunately conditions finally got the better of Meghan and she retired from the race.

So it was all down to Race 6. Isaac leapt out of the blocks and established an ever increasing lead as the race progressed. Jayvee was within striking distance should Isaac slip up but that slip never came. Eliza Wilkinson (Auckland) was also handily placed but a swim at the bottom mark put paid to a top finish and she was joined by several others including a spectacular nose-dive and end-over-end by Lyneche (but all smiles on shore post race). George recovered from a diabolical first beat to finish third whilst Nick never got going and had to settle for eighth. Three retirements were testament to the testing conditions (Meghan) and the toll on the boats (Leonard – boom vang, Taylor – rudder).

Manoeuvre of the day though perhaps goes to Brett Sheldon with a slip, pirouette and total immersion off the boat ramp before the day had begun, although to be honest Brett was lucky not to do himself any serious damage (other than pride obviously).

Isaac will get back his Tanner Cup at Monday’s prize giving having only handed it back prior to the days sailing, prematurely as it turned out.

Tomorrow (Saturday) sees the first day of competition for the Tauranga Cup.

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