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Javelins: New combination win Nationals at Howick SC

by Antje Muller 7 Apr 21:48 PDT 29-31 March 2019

Over the last Friday and weekend of March, Howick Sailing Club hosted the Javelin National Championships, with the conditions being a choppy 15 to 25 knots for all nine races, but still warm and sunny.

A very competitive fleet of seven boats coming from as far away as Northland, Palmerston North and Gisborne fronted up and, with many boats having past National Championship winners on board, a close series was predicted.

All eyes were on "The Heavies" (Peter Precey and his new crew Hamish Hey) with their near new one-off hull design, which boasted a radical layout and the latest high-tech fully-adjustable 12-footer styled rig. Interest was in whether their 205kg combined crew weight would give them a decided advantage in the windy conditions.

Their main opposition was expected to be "The Oldies" (Phil McNeill and Craig Gilberd - both over 60) on board Phlipnhel, the winners of three of the last four Nationals and the current South Pacific Champions. They had on their side: age, experience sailing together and Phil's own designed hull, mast and dacron sails.

Three races were sailed on the Friday, over short 2-lap windward leeward courses, and this resulted in close racing, with places swapping upwind and down. The Oldies managed to hold on for three wins, with their boat handling advantage (and no capsizes) making the difference in the windy conditions. Places behind them were well spread over the next three boats.

Saturday dawned with slightly more wind expected and the Javelins were joined by the A class cats and the Zephyrs for their local Championships.

By this time "The Heavies" (Peter Precey and Hamish Hey) were getting their boat tuning sorted and were showing impressive height and speed and so led around the top mark from Phil and Craig. A full-on kite run was experienced by all, with nosedives always on the cards. Precey and Hey attempted to gybe in a gust to cross in front of the Oldies but a large wave pattern caught them out and over they went. McNeill and Gilberd won their fourth race in a row with the next three boats being close overall.

Race 5 was even closer up the first beat with the top five boats crossing tacks, with Precey and Hey leading from the chasing "Oldies". Unfortunately, McNeill and Gilberd suffered terminal boat and crew damage up the next beat and had to retire from the series, leaving Precey and Hey to fight off the closely following pack. But wins in Races 5 and 6 kept the pack at bay and gave them a good points buffer.

"The Shankses" (Ross and Colin Shanks) on Riders on the Storm were fighting for second overall after Race 5 but in Race 6 they broke their jib traveller car and, even though they tried a different setup, could not continue on the last day.

The pack was led by "The Davids" (David Brown and David Feek) on Trailblazer who won Race 7 to keep it interesting.

There were only two races to be sailed on the Sunday and the breeze moderated for Race 8 which resulted in a very close race and one that "The Flyweights" (Antje Muller and Kez Cameron) were on the way to winning until the close-by keeler fleet raced through the Javelin course, resulting in a capsize for them and another win and overall championship title for "The Heavies".

Race 9 was another win to Precey and Hey with "The Davids" sealing second overall with a second place and 3rd in this race securing "The Flyweights" third place overall.

The win by Precey and Hey(first Nationals for Precey and fourth for Hey) was a just reward for a lot of hard work, tuning and training by the team and, even though the heaviest crew won the series, their high tech approach and overall package gives the rest of the fleet something to digest over the winter.

Next year's Nationals and South Pacific Championships in Noosa, Queensland should be exciting!

Thanks to the Howick Sailing Club for their amazing hospitality, catering and brilliant race management.

The Javelin fleet look forward to taking up the club's invitation to return in the future.

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