Over the long Easter weekend, the Sanders Memorial Cup will be awarded to the winner of a series of seven races. The Sanders Cup is the oldest inter-provincial challenge still sailed for under its original inception.
This year, the Javelin Skiffs compete for this honour on Parua Bay of Whangarei Harbour. Defending the trophy for Northland are Phil McNeil and Craig Gilberd on Phlipnhel, who recently won the South Pacific title in Perth. The challengers from the Manawatu are David Brown and Mark Gatti on Trailblazer, and Auckland is represented by Sara Watters and Hamish Norton on Thumper. Antje Muller and Milly Joseph on Hot Gossip are joining the open regatta but decided to fly and “L” on their sail as they are the only complete ladies crew.
On Friday, the invitation race for the Kingham Trophy was open to all comers, and preceded two Sanders Cup races.
In light airs, the first start was favoured at the boat and Trailblazer got away well but did not go as far left as Phlipnhel who first looked lost but then got a shift and pressure to come into the mark rolling over Trailblazer.
Thumper had good breeze on the right and came around the top first but had their retrieval rigged wrong, and downwind they were further slowed by the gennaker dragging in the water. On the second upwind, Hot Gossip got into third place and defended that to the finish, celebrating that the oldest boat could hand in there. Phlipnhel took the lead and sailed away from Trailblazer on the second lap with the places staying the same around the last complete lap.
Congratulations to Phlipnhel for winning the Kingham Trophy!
In the first Sanders Cup race, the start was closely contested. Manawatu were close to the start boat but Northland thought they could squeeze in. When they touched the inner distance mark, the Ladies called them to take their penalty. They did, and lost the boom off the gooseneck in the process, but still were in touch with the other boats after completing their turn. In terms of speed upwind, the 1981-built Hot Gossip still kept up with the speed of the latest carbon boats – She was a Sanders Cup winner when she was young but now is more than 20 years older than all of the other yachts.
At the first top mark, all competitors were very close together. Manawatu went around first and opted for a gybe-set, but Northland managed to gybe inside and roll them. The ladies were last and decided to try something different by hoisting and going to the Eastern side of the course. They had the luck of picking up good pressure there, which meant they were in touch again with the fleet at the bottom. The course was shortened to be only two laps. On the last downwind, Northland had secured their lead. The Ladies went East again and came back into the finish wiring which saw them take second place ahead of Auckland and Manawatu.
For the second race, Auckland changed their jib setting and had much better upwind pointing. Manawatu got a good start and arrived at the top mark together with Northland. This time, they tried the Eastern side of the course while Northland went towards the harbour. From the layline, Manawatu picked up enough pressure to be trapezing, affording them a comfortable lead at the bottom gate. The places remained the same around the last two laps. There was slightly more pressure and a lot more sunshine, which made for comfortable racing.
While Northland are fully on form, the racing was mixed enough to predict a close contest. There are 5 races to go with one discard coming in once 6 races are completed.
On Easter Sunday, the Sanders Cup was decided on the waters of Parua Bay in Whangarei.
With light winds forecast, the Committee decided to head out on the water straight away on the second day to take advantage of the little breeze that still was around at lunchtime. There was a light wind from the Southwest.
With the pin strongly favoured at the start, Northland opted for a port hand start and got away with it, because the rest of the fleet could not lay the pin. They went over the right hand side of the course, picking up good pressure and a lift to get up to the mark. The Ladies tried the left hand side that looked like more pressure and enjoyed some good lifts but never got the wiring pressure. Second around the mark was Auckland with Manawatu in third.
By the bottom mark, Northland had substantially extended their lead and the fleet was quite drawn out. The wind died however and swung around, which mixed things up again. When the Ladies got to the bottom mark, there was enough breeze from the new direction for them to hoist a gennaker, which saw them catch up to Manawatu by the top mark where the course was shortened to two laps. Northland got two thirds up the last leg when the wind disappeared, which gave Auckland a chance to catch up and for a short time overtake them.
Phil and Craig showed their joint experience and managed to gingerly put Northland across the line first, admitting it was a stressful day on the water though. On the downwind leg, that was now something between a beat and a reach, the Ladies were lucky again and found enough patches of wind to finish in third.
After the finish, the boats drifted around aimlessly for a while until the Committee shifted to set up for another start for a light Southeast breeze, but it did not stay in. Finally, racing was postponed to the next day.
Apart from Northland, the fleet is very close together and looking forward to another sunny day with hopefully a bit more breeze.
Whangarei served up brilliant sunshine again for the third day of racing. The breeze was light to start with but came up as the competition progressed.
In the fourth race, the wind was light but slightly stronger than the previous day. The pin was strongly favoured, and this time the Ladies took the chance and started on port. Luckily for them, they crossed ahead of the fleet and took the right hand side they thought promised pressure. At the top mark, Northland was ahead again though, followed by Manawatu and Auckland. On the second beat to windward, Auckland were successful on the right-hand side and overtook Manawatu who had gone toward the harbour. It was a long race but the places remained the same through the last round. The leaders only just made the time limit by about a minute.
On the fifth start, Manawatu shut out Auckland who narrowly ducked inside just after the gun but in turn closed out the Ladies who had to gybe around before crossing the line. It was close between Northland and Auckland at the top mark and Manawatu was just behind them. The latter managed to creep into second place through the second lap but Auckland rounded the top mark inside them in the third round. Gybing around the mark and hoisting on port that advantage increased as they caught a gust and shift to accelerate away. This saw Auckland getting close to Northland and fighting hard to try and overtake the leaders. In the end however, a few slow gybes saw them finish only just ahead of Manawatu with the Ladies trailing.
Hoping that a port start might work out better than what they experienced at the boat, the Ladies tried for a port start again in race six but this time could not clear Northland and had to tack with the fleet. All four boats were very close together up the first beat and Manawatu rounded the first mark ahead of Auckland and Northland. However picking some good shifts up the second beat together with superior boat speed saw the boat from the top of the North Island in first place again at the second windward mark. On the downwind legs, the wind was comparatively steady but Manawatu went into shore and caught up to Northland again. They lost it again when they hunted the pressure out towards the harbour even though they were trapezing more than the other competitors. Manawatu held on to second place for this race but were still third over all. Allegedly the lack of photographic evidence was due to an empty battery.
For the last race of the series, the wind picked up to a wiring breeze and the crews took the helm on Phlipnhel and Hot Gossip. This did not slow Northland down at all. Even though they were one minute early for their start (claiming later it was for practice), they managed to line up again well enough for the actual gun. It seems like Phil was to blame anyway as he admitted to never ceasing to give instructions.
The fleet stayed close together around the two laps. Northland was leading with Manawatu in second place. Thumper tried the left hand side but it did not work out, which saw them finishing in third place. This gave second place over all to Manawatu on countback. Hot Gossip did well staying in touch; this contest was the first time for Milly on a Javelin, and this was the first race she skippered. For the first time in this series, Phil crossed the finishing line first, crowing his eighth Sanders Cup win.
This beautiful contest was wound up by a friendly prize giving. The fleet was deeply grateful for the volunteers giving up their time and accommodating the preference of the sailors. In the Sanders Cup, Sara Watters was presented the DFL trophy (for the last place boat that finished all races) by previous holder Antje Muller. Vice Commodore Joan Livingstone presented the Sanders Cup to Northland sailors Phil McNeil and Craig Gilberd.
The Sanders Cup is one of NZ’s most prestigious trophies and has been contested since 1921. A summary about the varied history of this interprovincial challenge can be read by clicking here
The next regatta of the Javelin fleet is the North Island Championship held at Evans Bay on 9/10 April.
The 14ft Javelin Skiffs are getting together on Lake Taupo for their New Zealand Championships this weekend. A new boat being built along with a date change reduced the fleet, but the racing was just as close as ever.
In the first race, the oldest boat Hot Gossip led for the first lap but could not defend the lead in shifty and gusty conditions, and Thumper took the victory. With the wind coming up to 25 knots, there were amazingly fast gennaker rides, and several capsizes.
Phlipnhel was doing fine with the replacement skipper Wade, leading around the top mark several times, but unfortunately broke their mast after a capsize, which took them out of the contest.
After the first three races on Friday, the four leading boats were within four points of each other, leaving the contest wide open.
The Saturday started well for Trailblazer with a win coming from third, catching the leading Thumper only at the last top mark. Flying Circus had a good race, beating Bax Contractors across the line, thereby putting the three Lee hulls in the first three places. Brilliant sunshine and warm water but cool breeze made for wonderful sailing conditions.
In Race Five, Bax Contractors had bad start, crossing the fleet astern on port, but after tacking and going left found a favourable shift, which saw them coming into the top mark second behind Thirty Something. Because they managed to stay inside until the anticipated shift came, they got to gybe and pass them, winning the race. Trailblazer and Hot Gossip would have been in touch but got knocked around the top mark. Hot Gossip managed a third place ahead of Trailblazer in the finish.
Due to big holes and shifts, the first beat of Race Six was very challenging. Hot Gossip went up the middle and caught some good lifts, with Bax Contractors following them and rounding the top mark in second place behind them. Trailblazer got buried, never reaching the definitive right hand shift and could not recover on the one-lap track, even though choosing the Lake side on the downwind looked famous for a while. Bax Contractors showed great boat speed on the light-wind run going lower and faster that all of their competition. Hot Gossip was struggling with taking on water, which saw Thirty Something and Full Frontal beating them to the line.
After six races, there are still only seven points between the first and fifth placed yacht. Sunday will see the final three races on this contest. The light wind forecast was welcome to Bax Contractors.
Preliminary Results after 6 (of 10) Races, 1 Discard R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total Net
1st Thirty Something Wade McGee Demian Dixon 5 1 1 6 2 2 17 11
2nd Bax Contractors Ben Bax Dylan Doug 3 2 4 4 1 1 15 11
3rd Trailblazer David Brown David Feek 2 5 2 1 4 5 19 14
4th Thumper Sara Watters Hamish Norton 1 6 10 2 6 3 28 18
5th Hot Gossip Antje Muller Kez Cameron 4 4 3 5 3 4 23 18
6th Flying Circus Andrew Howden Mark Gatti 7 10 5 3 5 10 40 30
7th Phlipnhel Wade Gatfield Craig Gilberd 6 3 10 10 10 10 49 39
8th Black Bart Mat McMillan Andy Chapman 10 10 10 7 10 10 57 47
9th The Unknown Doug Roberts Bill Mullins 10 10 10 10 10 10 60 50
Nerve-racking final day in the Javelin Nationals at Lake Taupo
If the racing has been close on the first two days, it only got closer through the final three races of the 2016 Javelin Nationals, sailed on Lake Taupo. Brilliant sunshine and a moderate wiring breeze provided a great stage for the epic battle to win the Ray Eade Cup.
In the morning, Thirty Something looked like they had their hands on the Cup as the light Northerly winds died out and the fleet was kept ashore. Black Bart used the spare time again to get in more time on the water brushing up on their roll tacks.
The lake breeze set in around lunchtime however, slowly building to around 12 knots, but with big holes and breeze lines across the course. Trailblazer came up to form in race 7, using their local knowledge to win ahead of Bax Contractors and Thirty Something. This closed the gap to the two leading boats and gave Trailblazer a realistic chance of competing for the title.
In Race 8 Thirty Something took the lead and won ahead of Bax Contractors with Trailblazer having to fight up through the fleet into third place. To come out on top, the Davids now had to win the last race with two boats in between them and the leading boats. Therefore they shut out those two at the start, and came around the top mark second behind Thumper and in front of Flying Circus.
Success seemed achievable when they caught up to the leader at the last mark rounding, but Bax Contractors fought hard up the last short beat to come in second behind Trailblazer but ahead of Thumper and Flying Circus, which secured their overall win.
The National Title along with the Ray Eade Trophy go to Ben Bax and Dylan Doug, the oldest skipper and the youngest crew in the fleet. Congratulations!
Winner of the John Long Memorial Trophy for second place went to David Brown and David Feek who narrowly beat Wade McGee and Demian Dixon.
Best Female Skipper was Sara Watters with Hamish Norton crewing who finished fourth. .
This year, the DFL trophy went to the fifth place holder Antje Muller and Kez Cameron.
Big thanks go to the Lake Taupo Yacht Club for hosting the event, and the officials and volunteers who made this exciting regatta possible.
The next competition will be the Sanders Cup Inter-provincial Trophy held in Whangarei over Easter.