A Classic Aviemore Classic 2006

by Michael Fursdon

Each year the Timaru Yacht Club hosts the Aviemore Classic, on Lake Aviemore, part of the Waitaki river hydro-electric power system. [SinglePic not found]One of the great things about the Aviemore Classic is that it attracts 60 to 80 trailer yachts from most parts of the South Island, with the occasional North Island yacht thrown in. This year there were 62 boats including 2 Farr 5000s, 11 Farr 6000s and a Farr 7500. They hailed from Dunedin, Queenstown, Ashburton, Timaru and Christchurch. With boats coming from far and wide it becomes a gathering of friends as much as a competition.

In the week leading up to this year’s event the weather was … changeable… and promised strong westerlies from northwest to southwest. I wondered, briefly, if we would stay home and mow the lawn, but you know what they say about a bad day of sailing and a good day at the office.

We arrived at Otematata around 2.30pm on Friday and after rigging, went for a quiet sail on a dying breeze. Just magic, then returned to Otematata inlet for the night, which has to be the most sheltered piece of water in the world.

Saturday morning started with briefing for the Class Champs, complete with a weather forecast including a strong Northwesterly, 40 knot Southwesterly and a possible Easterly “sea breeze” – who would be a weather forecaster?. Farr Sighted headed down the lake to the racing area with 5 other Farr 6000s, to calls of “Good Luck. Enjoy the storm”, from those staying behind to compete in the more social Fun Race.

The first race was a windward-leeward x 2 and we cashed-in big time with a port end start. We managed to finish 2nd behind Kostalot but at the expense of a 30cm tear in our kite.

The second race was longer and windier, with tight reaches and no opportunity to use the kite – phew!  After a close race we finished 3rd by a whisker. We sailed the third and fourth races with the kite held together with insulation tape and managed two more second places.

After a fantastic day, with a 15 to 20 knot westerly (what storm?), we headed back up the lake to a hot shower and dinner, followed by prize giving and story swapping.

Sunday, the day of the Aviemore Classic, dawned with wind from the easterly quarter which slowly built from around 3 knots to 10 – 15 knots.
After the briefing we motored down the lake with 61 other Trailer Yachts and …..  a repaired spinnaker. Today it doesn’t matter what the Noelex’s transoms look like, we’ll be sailing in a fleet of 11 Farr 6000s.

The start was a drifter and in the light breeze Hot C Air cruised into the lead with Kostalot and Farrstar following behind. Further back a group of 3 F6000s and 2 F5000s spent the next few hours swapping the lead, almost with each change of tack. As the wind increased the group closed up on Farrstar and at the end of the race Farr Sighted was 4th , only 40 seconds behind Farrstar, with 3 other F6000s following within 4 minutes – after 5 hours and 18 minutes, that is close racing.

After packing up Farr Sighted, Matthew (my son) and I headed home, happy after a weekend of adventure, sailing and companionship.

My thanks go to my fantastic crew John and Michael O’Donnell and Matthew Fursdon, and to the organising committee who make the event so successful.
See you there next Labour weekend.

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