Yachts flock to Waikawa regatta

Honk ‘n’ Jack weaves through the traffic. Photo: Supplied.

Despite Covid-19 limitations, the Waikawa Boating Club’s annual women’s regatta, sponsored by Mud House Wines, boasted the largest fleet in the event’s history.

The waters of Queen Charlotte Sound saw over 170 sailors on 24 boats compete in two divisions.

Saturday saw the fleet take on two ‘long harbour’ courses, a dying southerly offering conditions that favoured those with local knowledge as boats picked their way from breeze line to breeze line and significant gains and losses were made. With many of the fleet aboard their boats for the first time, the learning curve was steep. Race two took place in a gently-building norwester, allowing visitors another look at the challenges of Sounds sailing. After the learning session of the morning, boat handling and trimming stepped up considerably as the boats were driven harder and the chance came to explore sail wardrobes.

A highlight of Saturday evening’s regatta dinner was a chance to hear from four Kiwi ‘Maidens’ (women who have sailed as part of the Maiden crew) – Jo Lowrey, Sharon Ferris Choat, Jo Ivory and Tash Fickling. The Maiden experience continued at Sunday breakfast with a Zoom linkup with Tracy Edwards MBE, the driving force behind the Maiden campaign.

Sunday’s buoy racing got off to a slow start as the forecast breeze built.

Some great sail handling and tactical sailing kept margins close and the committee boat busy recording some very tight finishes.

Evidence of the close competition came at prize giving with both divisions decided on countback after the top boats finished tied together on points. In division 2 local skipper Adrienne Crossen brought Sequin home for the win, the Jeanneau 36 beating out Farr 727 Freaky, skippered by Mandy Carpenter, on countback with Young 780 D’Edge, in the hands of Felicity Loncar, two points back in third.

Division 1 saw some huge gains, Jo Lowrey coming to terms with Khamsin to win the final race after three mid-field finishes, the big Beneteau First 456 showing a good turn of pace once the breeze built. In the final analysis the well-performed Farr 30 Loco, in the hands of top centreboard sailor Emily Overend, took the division on countback from Amnesty, the Wellington-based Farr 11.6 guided around the course by Ingrid Harder. After winning division 2 in 2019 on her Young 88 Abracadabra, skipper Karen Selway stepped up to division 1, helming the Ross 12 Revs to a consistent set of results enabling her to sneak in a point ahead of line honours winner Satellite Spy, the Ross 40 performing well with Carla Dixon as skipper for the third consecutive year.

Worthy of note was the performance of the RNZYS Youth Training Programme crew. With no previous trapezing experience the team rose to the challenge aboard the Thompson 750 Honk ‘n’ Jack. A series of mid-field results and some tight duels with boats around them saw the team go home with great smiles and a good deal of experience gathered on the race track.

With dates already set for 2021 (September 18-19) crews are already booking accommodation and flights for what is becoming one of the ‘must-do’ events on the sailing calendar.

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