Yamaha wins the 2014 Stoke Beer 18ft Skiff Nationals.

Yamaha winner of the NZ Nationals pictured sailing on the Waitemata harbour, earlier in April, 2014
2014 Stoke Beer 18ft Skiff Nationals were competed for over the weekend with Yamaha (Dave McDiarmid, Andy Archibald, Mark Overington) taking a commanding victory over the nine boat fleet.

The weekend’s weather proved to be very difficult to call with each day the fleet being split on which sized rig to use. Friday turned into a clear small rig day after a 15-20knt westerly built by the start of the first race. Knight Frank (Riley Dean, Matt Coutts, John Little) made a solid start to the regatta with a first up win however it was Yamaha who was to prove the dominate force and take the bullet in the remaining two races of the opening day. Knight Frank could only manage a second and a third in the remaining two races which meant they trailed by 1 point after day one while Events Clothing (Glen Sowry, Steve Jones, Tim Snedden) rounded out the top 3 after a string of well-earned fourths.

Saturday turned into a very big day for the fleet with the majority going to their large rigs in anticipation of forecasted 10-15knts winds. However as the saying goes around the club ‘the South West never dies’ which was proved correct once more with the SW building all day to winds of up to 22knts. Yamaha carried on their winning ways to take the first two races of the day after some tight racing with Knight Frank, Maersk Line (Graham Catley, Miranda Powrie, Brad Collins) and Aon (Will Tiller, Stu Dodson, Harry Thurston). Unfortunately for Maersk Line, who were looking strong with their small rig on, had a gear breakage in the second race which brought a premature end to their days racing. The last race of Saturday was a long harbour course which battered the fleet with winds up over 20knots.

Knight Frank, 18fters - Waitemata harbour, April 5, 2014

Knight Frank led Yamaha then C-tech (Alex Vallings, Hayden Whitburn, Andrew Clarke) around the first top mark for the two sail reach across to the wing mark. But with Knight Frank having to rig up their replacement gennaker at the start of the run Yamaha was able to jump out to a good lead over C-tech. This was short lived however with Yamaha dropping their gennaker and starting to round the wrong bottom mark which allowed C-Tech to take a small lead in to the actual bottom mark followed closely by Yamaha and Knight Frank a further 30m back. Aon was having a good race alongside Knight Frank until a gybe-drop in plenty of breeze at the bottom mark went wrong which unfortunately resulted in a race ending breakage. The rest of the race was an absolute ding-dong battle between the top three however C-tech put together a fantastic second half to claim victory ahead of Knight Frank and then Yamaha.

Going in to the last day of the regatta Yamaha had a 4 point lead over Knight Frank with C-Tech a further 13pts back after since they missed first race of the regatta with a breakage. Although Sunday potentially looked like it could get windy the majority of the fleet correctly chose to go out in their big rigs for the final two races of the regatta. The first race of the day belonged to C-tech in the building NE breeze who led from start to finish and show a clean pair of heels to take a solid victory ahead of Maersk Line and Yamaha. A harbour course was set for the final race which turned out to be the most fiercely contested race of the regatta. Maersk Line, C-tech, Yamaha and Knight Frank all got good starts and battled fiercely up the first beat as tide and wind shifts played havoc with tactics. However just off North Head Knight Frank had a wee run in with a sand bank which dropped them back allowing Maersk Line to lead around the top mark followed by C-tech, Yamaha and Knight Frank now a 100m back. A tricky downwind allowed the fleet to compress just a little going into the bottom mark. The next beat Yamaha and C-tech were able to slip past Maersk Line and Knight Frank caught right back up. The final run to the finish saw Yamaha extend slightly to take the victory while C-tech, Maersk Line and Knight Frank all finished within seconds of each other.

C-Tech and 7 side by side down the first run - JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship 2014

After 8 races it was Yamaha who claimed a dominate victory to win back to back National titles. Knight Frank finished second just two points ahead of C-tech who had a great second half to the regatta. Stand out performance goes to Events Clothing who claimed fourth place ahead of Maersk Line (5th) and ASCC (6th). Aon finished seventh after a tough first up regatta after re-launching their boat the previous week. Fineline Ropes, a Tauranga/Rotorua based team, came in eighth place and have shown promising improvements in their first year in the class. Kez Racing was unfortunately only able to complete the first day of the regatta but with two fifth places they can be proud of their efforts.

The annual Queen of the Waves regatta is taking place on Saturday the 10th of May at the Auckland Sailing Club for the 12 and 18ft skiffs. Racing will be followed by BBQ and prize giving in the club. If you are around come down to the club to get among the festivities.

Many thanks to the whole team at North Sails NZ for supplying prizes as well as Stoke Beer for sponsoring the regatta and the Club.

Final Results: (final points tally include one drop)
1. Yamaha – 2,1,1,1,1,3,3,1 – 10pts
2. Knight Frank – 1,2,3,2,3,2,4,4 – 17pts
3. C-Tech – DNS,3,2,5,5,1,1,2 – 19pts
4. Events Clothing – 4,4,4,7,4,6,6,6 – 34pts
5. Maersk Line – 3,6,DNF,3,DNF,DNS,2,3 – 37pts
6. ASCC – 6,5,DNF,6,6,4,5,7 – 39pts
7. Aon – DNS,DNS,DNF,4,2,DNF,7,5 – 48pts
8. Fineline – DNF,DNS,DNS,8,7,5,8,8 – 56pts
9. Kez Racing – 5,7,5,DNS,DNS,DNS,DNS,DNS – 57pts