Monday, August 8, 2016

___________________ LAST OF THE WINTER SERIES ___________________

Yesterday the last of the winter centerboard racing series was held at One Tree Point Yacht club, about three quarters of an hours drive from Whangarei on the southern side of Whangarei harbour.
The OTPYC is one of the nicest on the shores of Whangarei harbour being close to the water on a narrow headland with approximately 220 degree views of the harbour.

The weather was cold and a bit rugged at 20 knots with continual squalls approaching 25 - 30 knots making the upwind hiking taxing on my old legs but the downwind rides wild and exhilarating.
Most of the courses in this series have been  windwind - leeward races only but yesterdays races contained a triangle. So the course was: Start - windward - triangle - windward - leeward - windward - finish. I like the triangle part of the course because the boat is broad leading and planing very fast - the problem is that a fast and efficient passing of the buoy requires a gybe, which is a precarious manoeuvre especially in high winds.

In the above selfie I have just changed into dry clothes after coming ashore. I have two big lumps on my head having been belted from gybing booms. I also have a cut hand after a spectacular capsize in the last race (how it got cut I don't know).

Luckily for this very cold skipper my brother Tony was at hand with a steaming cup of tea, having driven out in his camper van to watch the racing. He had passed the time watching the races and getting regular updates on the Olympics on his TV (hence the satellite dish) - I hope our Kiwi sailors in Brazil do better in their respective races than I did on the cold winter waters of Whangarei harbour.

The Starling dinghy I am racing has a recommended weight range of 50kg - 70kg and I am 90kgs + This fact has made me rethink the sort of dinghy I want to race in the coming years. I think I need a bigger centerboarder, one that I can safely gybe without having to wear a crash helmet. The NZ Zephyr class is looking most attractive at the moment. Despite my love of OK dinghies which has always been my preferred bigger boat option I have noticed some of the older OK skippers sailing out of Whakatere Yacht Club in Auckland wearing protective helmets - I know why. The NZ Zephyrs boom is quite high and would easily clears my head in a crash gybe - so maybe this boat is an option worth investigating.
NZ Zephyr Class Centerboard Dinghy

The Des Townson designed NZ Zephyr class yacht is a bigger (round bilge rather than hard chine) version of my Townson Starling dinghy. There is a strong class association with many of the skippers older sailors getting back into sailing. These boats are much sort after and pretty expensive.


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Coming into your summer - so it'll be getting warmer sooner!

Alden Smith said...

Quite right Steve - and living here in the 'Winterless North' we don't really have much to complain about, it is cold and wet but not exactly North Pole weather, and as you note summer is on the way.