Etchells off to a strong start on Tuesday Night Series

Close racing in the Etchells World Championship Sydney Australia 2012.

A tremendous start to the Auckland Etchells Tuesday Night Season in fickle conditions felt like high-stakes poker, with displays of calculated ambition, misjudged caution and all-in kahunas at each shuffle of the deck.

http://www.etchells.org.nz/results.html!The_results (scrawled, fittingly, on a bar napkin) eloquently describe how the chips changed hands often over the three races (although familiar high-rollers ultimately remained in the money).

Race one started in a modest, but building breeze which spread the fleet of ten starters across a broad front. After a close start, the first mark was surprisingly processional (with your correspondent thrillingly, but fleetingly sneaking around in third), but the deck was radically reshuffled on the first downwind leg as a dying, shifting breeze compressed the fleet.

After a ding-dong at the leeward mark, the second work was effectively a do-over which saw the fleet re-consolidate through the middle of the course in the flooding tide. However, the Stolen Rum kite on Feng Shui popped while most were some distance from the lay-line, followed by 914 and 1379.

Race two was a different can of worms, with boats crowding the boat on a rather short line. Two boats were inevitably pushed over early, while the fleet persisted on starboard with the left looking good (at least from the right from where your correspondent had a depressingly clear view). The spring tide and clocking wind spread and compressed the fleet around two laps, in which Upfront ultimately triumphed.

Race three was a punchy (but inspired) call in the dying breeze and fading light and your correspondent was regretting his night-vision goggles on the final low speed circuit. At the top mark 1240's skipper was relying on 'the Force' to pick his way through the tail of the fleet in the gloaming and encountered 1114 in a version of 'rounding by braille'. Evidently, the near total darkness prevented a definitive ruling on whether 1240 had completed its tack prior to a load-speed collision....

Upfront was on a roll, however and, eyes on the ‘first to the bar’ prize, held out a surging Echelon to win the final hand.

Many thanks to Warwick Gair and his volunteers aboard the committee boat.

Racing an Etchells in Auckland could not be any easier. Leave work and get to Westhaven Marina around 5 o'clock, your boat's already in the water. Only about 5 minutes' sail from the dock and you're in the racing area - just off the Viaduct Basin between Prince's Wharf and Wynyard Quarter.

A lively, competitive fleet enjoys 3 or 4 closely-fought races, before returning to dock to de-brief and tell lies over a couple of drinks at Swashbucklers Bar and Grill. You can leave the boat in the water - she'll be hauled out for you in the morning.

To find out how to join the fleet, or register as a crew http://www.etchells.org.nz/join-the-fleet.html!click_here

Summer Series 2011-2012Results are final as of 7:37 on November 1, 2012OverallSailed: 3, Discards: 0, To count: 3, Entries: 10, Scoring system: Appendix A
RankBoatSailNoHelmNameR1R2R3TotalNett
1stUpfront814Scott Kennedy5.01.01.07.07.0
2ndFeng Shui1348Andrew Wills1.03.04.08.08.0
3rdEchelon1379Al Gwyer3.04.02.09.09.0
4thValsheda II950Alastair Gair6.02.05.013.013.0
5thFootloose914Phil Pryde2.08.07.017.017.0
6thWaiwera1240Alex Webster4.07.010.021.021.0
7thFoundation1236Allan Kearney9.05.08.022.022.0
8thWindward1114Charles Maud8.06.09.023.023.0
9thQuantum1314Lindsay Kennedy7.011.0 OCS6.024.024.0
10thAffinity17Craig Greenwood11.0 DSQ11.0 OCS3.025.025.0