New Zealand Starling National Championships, Picton.

Starling Nats 1st day early - Starling Nationals 2013
Rob Burn

Rob Burn reports on Day 1 and 2 of the New Zealand Starling National Championships, Picton, which started in April 22

Shades of Hitchcock, Dark, dramatic skies, more than a flock of Starlings.

A weather forecast that promised breeze this late in the season for the South Island, vital ingredients for a successful 2013 Starling National Championships.

108 boats in the Open fleet sailing on the Queen Charlotte Sound outside Picton Harbour, just a handful of 'Development' Fleet boats on the inner Harbour, plenty of enthusiastic sailors, supporters, coaches and officials.

Principal Race Officer Gerald Martin got two races away on Monday, the first day of the Championships. Light and shifty conditions, Picton sailing at its best and the added bonus of rain showers and the occasional big gust to keep all sailors on their toes and close to their hiking straps.

The Race Officer's job was not made any easier with a large Log ship parked in the area best suited for the Nor' West wind conditions making the whole fleet transit further up the Sounds. The imminent arrival of a Cruise ship while the fleet moved out across the Sound kept the Patrol boats on sharp lookout and gave the sailors something more than just the ferries to keep away from.

George Gautry of Muritai Yacht Club, and Libby Porter of Kohimarama Yacht Club won the first race in Yellow Flight and Blue Flight respectively, second race the bullets went to Taylor Burn of Queen Charlotte/Murrays Bay and Jeremy Mitchell of Murrays Bay.

2013-04-22 16.00.41 Starling Nats 1st Day - Starling Nationals 2013
Rob Burn

There were some torrid, close battles amongst the groups of sailors and none more than between George Gautry and Taylor Burn, the second race in Yellow Flight saw the lead change several times but Burn just ahead at the Finish.

Daylight saving finished and a long transit home meant the back of the Starling fleet needed 'Nav' lights in the fading light. The hot food waiting and the blazing outdoor braziers at the waters edge made for a great welcome home.

Day two, Tuesday, promised warm, sunny and windy weather.

The breeze swung to the South meaning a downwind sail some of the way out to the course. A swing back to the North west and the absence of a log ship saw a much quicker trip to the sailing area and ready to go on time at 11am. The original forecast was for 20-25 knots but only some gusts got into the teens, again light and shifty with some great work by the Mark layers in 30 metres of water to keep the courses fair.

Three races were scheduled for the two Flights and the Race Committee got them away without much delay, even with the course changes.

Trent Rippey showed his class with two wins but sheer consistency kept George Gautry at the top of the leader board.

The first 'Drop' came in after 5 races, for George, a third place was his worst.

Trent Rippey of Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club second, Lola Stoodley, Timaru yacht and Powerboat club, third, Taylor Burn, QCYC, fourth, and Leonard Takahashi-Fry fifth at the end of the days racing.

Taylor Burn 2nd race - Starling Nationals 2013
Rob Burn

Full results on www.qcyc.org.nz

Sam Wallis, Wakatere Boating Club, Charles Corston, Charteris Bay Yacht Club, Nick Egnot-Johnson, Murrays Bay and Tam Lindsay, Glendowie Boating Club, all recorded bullets today in some very close racing at the front of the pack.

In a dropping breeze Race officer Gerry concluded the days racing as scheduled leaving three races tomorrow to finish the Qualifying series. The Final Series of Gold and Silver Fleets will be Thursday afternoon and Friday. The Race Committee and the Organising Committee now have the required races to constitute a Series but are confident the full schedule of race will be sailed.

The Development Fleet raced with a lone Optimist in the Harbour in some stiff conditions, more breeze in the Inner Harbour than outside. Unfortunately the Fleet results were not available at the time of writing.