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The last sailing contest in the world

by Craig Coulam 29 Mar 09:41 BST
Flying Fifteen National Championships - Bream Bay - March 2020 ©

Well, that may be playing it a bit, but the 2020 Flying Fifteen Nationals hosted by Onerahi Yacht Club and Marsden Yacht Club was a memorable one and will be the last sailing contest in most places for a while. The location is just fabulous.

One of the things you can rely on sailing in Bream Bay is steady winds. Except not this time, with the range of conditions from warm light breezes, to shifty shitty breezes, to the odd blasting with rain thrown in for good measure over the nine-race series.

Under the control of Race Officer Stephen Smith, a full program of racing was delivered, in challenging winds for the race management team. The first day's sailing was a real shakedown for many of the crews, with four boats having new skipper/crew combinations. At the end of day one, the experience of Murry and Jonathon sailing Ffrenetic, came out with a four-point lead over local legends, Rob and Bruce sailing Jaffa. Rob and Bruce had a narrow lead over Sally and Neil (the Godffather), sailing outside their preferred wind range.

Nathan and Scott, a new combination sailing the oldest boat in the fleet, Fflorin, found form on day two with a 1,2,2,4 scorecard to move into third place, only two points off Jaffa, who narrowed the deficit to Ffrenetic.

On the final day on 21st March, the fleet had two very different races, the first in a strong shifting breeze as a large rain squall cell moved across the bay. This mixed things up with the Godffather taking the win by a substantial margin, Fflorin continuing a great run with a second-place and Ffrenetic scoring a third place. At this point Ffrentic’s lead was unassailable, but to prove a point, Ffrentic made a complete hash of the start, failed to take the first shift and had a good view of every transom in the fleet. However, the lucky jar was cashed in, and Ffrenetic rounded mark one in first place, to lead to the finish with Jaffa coming home in a close-fought second place with Brian and Bridget on Loaffer. A bad first beat cost Fflorin a good race result, with a lost opportunity to finish ahead of Jaffa overall.

The local crew on Gustbuster, Roger and Jill, found great form on the last race finishing with a regatta best placing, just ahead of our International guest James Waugh, sailing Ffeene with Jenny Price.

So with a national lockdown only days away, nobody dared to sniff, sneeze, cough or even shake hands at the prizegiving, which was hosted at the idyllic location of the Marsden Yacht Club.

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