Farr 6000 Nationals 2007

By Rob English

After two great Farr 6000 National Championships in Port Chalmers and Littleton last year we were looking forward to making the trip north. For the change of scenery, the challenge of sailing in Wellington and the chance to sail against some different boats. The venue set at the last nationals and hosted by the Lowry Bay Yacht Club over the Easter Holiday as part their Sail Wellington Easter Regatta. This also included the Aquarius 22 and Ross 780 Nationals, the National Trailer Yacht Champs, The North Island Trailer Yacht and Flying Dutchman Champs plus 3 divisions of Keelboats and an Etchells Regatta. There was even a regatta for radio control yachts.

[SinglePic not found]Though we had advanced notice of race for a year, we only got the official Notice of Race a month out, this showed 4 days of racing and 13 races if all went well. We had most of the planing in place so we booked the ferry and set off from Dunedin along with a Ross 780 on the Wednesday with my crew Dragos and Jed, a perfect crossing the following morning to Wellington got us to Lowry Bay in time for scrutineering. We arrived to clear skies and warm light winds that were to last for the next 4 days. A fleet of radio controlled yachts racing kept us entertained as we rigged the boat.

On checking in we were a little dismayed to find out there was only 2 Farr 6000’s entered!! This equalled the 2 Bonito Aquarius’s and the 2 Flying Dutchmen. The Ross 780’s managed 5 boats for their National Champs but they had done a lot of ringing round before hand (1 boat from Dunedin and 4 from New Plymouth). We did have a fleet of 5 boats for the C division Trailer Yacht champs the Bonitos and a Davidson 20 being the other boats.

The other Farr 6000 was called Placebo and had only recently been bought. The owner had enlisted the help of his brother who was busy tuning up the boat using his skills gained sailing overseas, we were to have health respect for this by the end of the regatta.

So with 3 divisions of keelboats, Etchells and Flying Dutchmen and 3 divisions of trailer yachts we had a possible 8 starts but by combining divisions we usually had 6. All sailing different courses around 4 buoys, one set as a gate with 2 windward leeward legs. This all worked very well with little mixing of fleets.

So we awoke on day one to light NW winds. The racing started at 11.00am after a race briefing for all. The shifty winds coming off the Wellington hills made life difficult for the course layer and frequent changes of fortune for us racers. By our start the top mark was almost a straight beat for the first race. The wind was light and suited the big Genoas of the Bonito’s and the Davidson 20 that was being sailed very well. All 4 races for day one were sailed without a hitch. We soon realised the Davidson with its rating (.686) would be untouchable if the wind stayed light,(it also took 3 Lines honours!) we had a 1st and 3 x 2nd.

Day 2 forecasted a change in wind but at the scheduled 10 o’clock start there was no wind at all. This came in at midday from the south, a pattern repeated for the next 2 days. We had 2 short races followed by a long race round the bay in about 10-12 knots of wind, a delayed start for the c division boats in this race meant we had no one to follow, which added to the tension as we looked for buoys. We managed to hold off the Davidson as the wind started to die to take 3 Line honours for the day.

Day 3 we again had 4 round the buoys races with a southerly breeze. A 6-10 knot wind saw some of the closest racing of the regatta. B and C divisions now had a combined start  with 3 Gazelles and a Nolex 22 joining us. This lead to a variety of starting techniques, the Farrs closed the line and played cat and mouse with each other while the boats with bigger headsails preferring a timed run up. The second race was very tight with 3 boats finishing in 12 seconds and the lead changing in the last 20 meters. The other Farr 6 Plecebo, punishing us for not covering, won the 3rd race of the day.

The final day had 2 races scheduled but the late start and very light wind meant we only got one in. We all had to work hard at keeping our sails filled and for once we court up the keelboats ahead of us but the gate bottom mark gave plenty of options. The end of racing was followed by a quick swim in the harbour (warm by Dunedin standards) and getting the boat ready for the journey home. The prize giving went well with most boats getting something.

Though numbers were down we all had a great time, the racing was good and the weather fantastic. As we waited for the ferry home on Tuesday Wellington turned on a strong 35knots NE, which we were glad to have missed!

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