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2019/20 Auckland Finn Championship & NZ Finn Week Preview

by Karl Purdie 29 Nov 2019 03:58 PST 30 November 2019
Sailing to the finish - Auckland Finn Championships © Karl Purdie

Eight Finn sailors descended on Tamaki YC once again over the weekend of 16 & 17 November 2019, for the running of the annual Auckland Championship.

Competitors coming from as far south as Wellington and Wanganui to enjoy this yacht clubs fine hospitality and excellent race management. Although small in numbers the fleet was packed with national/international sailing talent. The sailors between them boasting multiple national titles, world titles, world championship podium places, Interdominion titles, international keel boat campaigns and AC campaigns over various classes. Keen, closely fought competition was expected and ultimately realised with first to last finishing every race within a few minutes of each other and most races seeing multiple lead changes. Races were approximately 35 minutes in duration on a mixture of windward leeward and triangle courses. Multiple laps making for close mark rounding's and testing early season fitness levels.

Returning to the fold was Tom Dodson who had recently refurbished KZ 29 a diagonal kahikatea strip planked classic uplifted from Gary Lock. Having last sailed a Finn in 1981 where stiff Marten Marine fibreglass hulls, Needlespar aluminium masts and Dacron sails dominated the NZ landscape some change was noted with today's Devoti flexible hulls, carbon fibre wing masts and laminate sails now the norm.

The fleet were rapt to see a legend of NZ yachting venture back into the class that Muldoon had robbed him of the chance to compete for an Olympic Medal at the 1980 Tallinn Olympic games in. That Olympic year he had gained the NZ Finn nomination and finished 8th at the Takapuna Finn Gold Cup. Examination of the Finn national championship trophy (which is graced by the names of many of NZ's sailing legends) shows Tom won this highly prized championship in 1980 and 1981.

Saturday saw three races completed in a strong 15-25 knot NW wind, the outgoing tide making it a one way beat. The tall timber of Ray Hall and Mark Perrow generally leading at the first top mark with Karl Purdie gradually making his presence felt on the free pumping downhill runs and reaches to climb into contention.

Approximately 30 seconds behind the chasing pack comprising David, Gerard, Illia,Tom and Gerrit were battling each other hard. The end of the day had Karl Purdie narrowly leading from Ray Hall and Mark Perrow. Mark sailed a particularly impressive first race only narrowly missing out on the gun. It was fair to say the lads were pretty tired after three races and were more than happy to retire to the Commodores Lounge overlooking the harbour and take onboard some much needed refreshments!

All agreed it had been an awesome day's racing held in hot sunny, summer conditions. Karl hailing from Wellington was particularly appreciative of the extremely warm water! Unfortunately Tom suffered a mast bearing ring failure which resulted in some deck damage and although able to complete the first race was then out of action for the remainder of the weekend.

Sunday yielded a variety of wind and tide conditions making for challenging beats and runs with no particular side dominating throughout the day. A day where it paid to have eyes out of the boat and the thinking cap firmly on. The wind was from the north and gradually increased from 8-10 knots for race 4 to 15-18 knots for race 6. Ray Hall led the first race of the day from start to finish to take a well deserved victory after correctly picking the left side of the first beat....increasing wind strength winning out over trying to stay out of the tide.

With this victory and Mark Perrow in 3rd the championship was wide open and all was to play for. Karl Purdie however closed it out winning the next two races as the wind increased allowing downhill free pumping to come back into play. With lighter winds the racing was even tighter than the day before with 6 boats generally rounding the top mark within 20 seconds of each other. Ray Hall did enough in the final event to secure second from Mark Perrow. Karl, Ray and Mark taking up, once again the close battle they had shared at last seasons national championship for overall podium honours.

Following boat pack up trophies were presented and beer/pizza put on by the club gratefully consumed. Tom taking a break from repairing his boat joined the fleet to discuss the finer points of Finn racing and help finish the large amount of pizza on offer. The class would like to hugely thank Tamaki YC for hosting us and once again providing outstanding racing which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. A finer more hospitable venue is hard to find.

Finn eyes now turn to the feature event of the season - NZ Finn Week where the North Island Championship followed by the National Championship will be proudly hosted by the Worser Bay Boating Club from February 1-8. It's famous catchcry "The Worser the Bay the better the sailing!" known and feared throughout NZ. February our Capital's most benign summer month being more than likely to feature 20-30 DegC sunny days with wind strengths of 10-20 knots and should result in outstanding sailing conditions prevailing.

The club only very recently having completed it's rebuild and now reopened features panoramic race course views from "Bob's Eagle Nest", ample hardstand rigging area and bar/cafe (home to the famous "Craig's" gourmet toasted sandwiches and pies) facilities second to none. The nationals to be co-run with the OK Dinghy National Championship (NZ's most successful international class in terms of world titles won) will feature over both fleets world championship winners, Olympic medallists, AC competitors, Round the World sailors and national title winners converging in one spot to battle it out from February 6-8 for their respective class national honours.

Such an array of sailing talent is rarely seen gathered at one club and will make for some spectacular race viewing. Finn fleet numbers will be bolstered by the large South Island contingent which itself is packed with talent.

Josh Junior and Andy Maloney our pro sailors will also aim to be in attendance subject to leave from Team NZ AC duties to continue their Olympic berth selection battle.

Club commodore Dean Stanley (father of Josh) writes "We are really looking forward to hosting our Finn and OK Dinghy friends in our brand new clubrooms!"

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