Triumph at the New Zealand Trailer Yacht Champs

June 2003

The Navman NZ Trailer Yacht Championships held at Lake Ngaroto near Te Awamutu showed how competitive our Farr sailors can be with great sailing by Ken Bradshaw and Graeme Burton to win their respective divisions.

Ken in Farr 5000 Farrthing. made a clean sweep of the C division winning all eight races. Graeme in Farr 7500 Buzz Off held off the Noelexs with five wins to take the B division. Both give their account of the event below.

Matt and I took Farthing to the NZ Champs at Lake Ngaroto. Matt crewed marvellously well. In one weekend of eight races he almost wore out a pair of gloves.

Ngaroto is a small lake and the club is hospitable and friendly. Most of the competitors camped beside the lake. Sailing with no current was bliss. The wind was 10-15 knots SW but with lulls of 5 and gusts of 20 knots. The wind came in puffs of about two minutes duration and direction varied through perhaps 20 degrees. We could tack on every shift if we didn’t have a big boat sitting on us so most of the time we were on the favoured tack.

The Aquarius’s, which were in our fleet, have big headsails and winches and were loath to tack too often. I asked some Aquarii why their wives didn’t steer and the blokes do the sheeting. I was told “hush your mouth”.

The top mark was in front of some huge Poplar trees. The light fluky air there was a graveyard if you got it wrong. We learnt to overstand on port and creep in the last 100 metres on starboard. Big boats hate making way for little boats so there was some yelling.

What did I learn? Clear air is everything. Sail on the favoured tack if possible. Always sail round trouble; it’s never worth getting involved whatever the rights and wrongs. At one bottom mark there was a big boat scrum and a Joker that carried its anchor on a bow roller made a hole through a Noelex 25. The noise and swearing was incredible. We were just about in the raupo getting round them. Matt put the spinnaker up and down in all sorts of tricky situations and since we came home I’ve improved the launch and retrieval system.

We won our eight races on rating and are C Division champs for the year. I think that if Matt had been offered a sail on an Elliot 7.4 he would have jumped ship.

Ken Bradshaw

I had never sailed at Lake Ngaroto before and heard all sorts of stories about what a little duck pond it was We were about to find out, as we contested the Trailer Yacht Nationals held there recently. Yes, it was small but fellow Farr owner Frank Mackie had assured me a few weeks before we would be guaranteed a good time there as it was a very social country style yacht club and the lake was actually no worse than many others to sail on. I looked back on the racing we have done at Lakes Taupo, Rotoiti and Rotoma and wondered why we did these things.

The crew consisted of Frank on the mainsheet my wife Anne on headsail, keyboards and various comments and long serving (suffering?) “deckie” John Hubner at the pointy end. The sailing was held over Anniversary Weekend, with four races scheduled each for Saturday and Sunday with Monday being a reserve day if needed. The courses were trapezoid and all starboard mark roundings. This led to some fairly interesting rule interpretations. There were 11 boats in our fleet including 5 Noelex 25’s, three Joker 6.7’s and two Catalinas with us being the only Farr 7.5.

The first race was a bit of a drifter and a Joker 6.7 scorched around the track and left us all in his wake wondering where he went. He didn’t even fly a kite! Bloody hell, game over if it stays like this!. Fortunately, their reputation for falling away in a bit of breeze came to bear when the breeze kicked in for the rest of the day, and for that matter the rest of the series. It was left, right, up down all around. Just what you would expect in a lake. It was mostly 10 to 15 knots with puffs to around 20 and shifts of 20 to 30 degrees at times. This suited us as the Farr sails best at the top end of its’ Genoa range and we came out of the day with a two or three point lead from a fourth a second and two wins. That night we were treated to some excellent hospitality and an Argentinean Barbecue that was really superb. Frank was right! Three of us spent the night on the boat anchored and backed up to the shore lake style while Frank slept in his new tent. We were treated to the entertaining spectacle of Frank erecting it. The instructions said it would take two minutes and somehow Frank managed to add another thirty. I didn’t get involved as it looked far too complicated to me but full marks to Frank for determination.

Next day was more of the same weather wise with perhaps slightly more breeze. We had a couple of good races first up, then with just two races to go we figured we had to beat the Noelex 25 “Breeze” and we would be looking pretty good. As it turned out they broke their main halyard a couple of minutes before the start of the race and returned to shore for repairs. We had mixed feelings about this and couldn’t help but feel sorry for them but at least it gave us the breathing space we needed and we took prompt and immediate “advantage” of their mishap by sailing a shocker of a race. Bad start, bad tactics bad sailing. After being a hard taskmaster and insisting on constant and immediate “gear changes” in the ever changing conditions it was my turn to be the villain. We did recover quite well in the end by taking advantage of a huge shift (not seen or planned) to end up in fourth place.

Last race to come and I remember saying “lets just keep it tidy and we’ll be OK”. So guess who was over at the start! Fortunately we were right next to the pin and could just spin around and wouldn’t be too far behind. Even more fortunately we got a huge left hander and with most of the boats still on starboard and pinned by a windward boat from tacking our start was looking pretty good. Fate was on our side and this race gave us our fourth line honours and a suitable reward for a very hardworking crew.

Crew work, “changing gears”, clean starts, clear air and using the shifts all played their part and I reckon our crew was better than the others at these things. With five Noelex 25 sailing and three being very close to one another and changing positions on a regular basis we also had the advantage of them keeping a close eye on one another and not so much on us which also helped our cause. At the end of the day we were more than happy with the line and handicap double. The Ngaroto Sailing Club ran an excellent event in very testing conditions for their race management team. Will I go back? – yes, but I still wonder why we do these things…….

Graeme Burton
F7.5 “Buzz Off”

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