Drama and no surprises at the Kingham Trophy
Representatives from seven provinces came together this weekend at the Gisborne Yacht Club to compete in the Sanders Memorial Cup Interprovincial Challenge, a trophy that has been sailed for under its original inception since 1921.
The traditional invitation race has another prestigious prize up for grabs, the Kingham Trophy, which features a massive silver ship with sails.
With waves breaking on the beach, launching was a challenge. Hot Gossip got off light, only getting dragged and swamped by a wave with the crew landing in the tide instead of the boat. Unfortunately, Black Bart were less lucky and a wave shook their rudder lose and dumped them back on the beach breaking the rudder stock. They missed the invitation race and the following first race of the Sanders Cup but managed to get the rudder welded again for racing on Saturday.
In Easterly winds around 15 knots and moderate swells, there were plenty of fast rides to be had. Unfortunately, the persistent rain made it less enjoyable for the Committee members on the start boat. Nevertheless, they delayed the start to make sure that the Auckland representatives could at least make the first race of the Sanders Cup as they had encountered a road closure.
Phil McNeil and Craig Gilberd sailing for Northland took the lead early on in the Invitation Race, showing superior speed upwind. The rain and mist made it very difficult to see the top mark, so the leaders were very relieved when they finally made out the safety boat. With the pressure being up and down a bit, the downwind angles kept changing, and it was difficult to judge which direction the bottom mark would be in. After the hoist, Riders on the Storm who are sailing for East Coast accelerated past the South Canterbury entry on Hot Gossip and hauled in Trailblazer from the Manawatu when they had a bad gybe, which took them out of the race. Northland were so unsure about the right way to go that they dropped their gennaker and turned around without gybing, only to then decide on the rough bearing to where the mark should be and hoist again straight into a good gust that still got them to the mark first. On the long beat their lead extended even though they only focussed on defending again Trailblazer. Northland has now won the Kingham Trophy the three consecutive times, which is the first time in its 67-year history!
The first race of the Sanders Cup had a shorter course, and everyone knew their way to the top mark by now. The fleet was slightly late for the start but close racing was had around the three-lap course. Northland won ahead of Manawatu, which South Canterbury stealing third place of Auckland when Thumper had problem dropping their gennaker before the finish. East Coast managed a fourth place even though the Head Brother had broken his crew’s (!) toe.
After racing, to start off a good social evening, the representitive from the Invitation Race sponsor Sunshine Brewery Joe Williams presentation of Kingham Trophy to happy winners Phil McNeil and Craig Gilberd.
Close Competition for the Sanders Cup
On Saturday there was a lot of sailing to be had for the Javelins in Gisborne, but only three races to count. The seven hours on the water started with westerly winds, and the fleet got off to a good first beat, only for the breeze to die and come back in from the opposite direction. At the time limit, the race was abandoned and restarted to the East. This single lap was won narrowly by Northland ahead of Manawatu and East Coast.
Another one-lap race followed, in which some boats could lay through to the top mark due to a wind shift to the right. This time, Manawatu finished ahead of Northland and South Canterbury.
Then the course was shifted to make an upwind leg to the South, even though the Race Officer was predicting the wind would come back to the East. The leading boats went towards Young Nick’s Head but South Canterbury wallowed in the doldrums out to sea until the Eaterly came back and allowed them a gennaker reach to the top mark. This race was abandoned and restarted in a strengthening Northeasterly that had everyone wiring and planing to forget the delays of the day. Northland came out victorious again, followed by Manawatu, South Canterbury and Auckland. Noteworthy in this race was a tight mark rounding at the bottom with four boats closely together.
In the evening, the club turned out a great barbeque again.
The final straw
Do you know what it’s like?
Can you imagine what it feels like to be buried 30 feet beneath the waves for over a hundred years?
Well here I am, and what do you know, all of a sudden my peaceful rest is disturbed!
Just to give you a bit of background, I was a young ship when I was blown onto rocks on the Gisborne foreshore in 1912 because my anchors did not hold. Built at Belfast in October 1909 with an illustrious name like Star of Canada I was a twin screw general cargo steamer of 7,280 tons gross (12,000 tons fully laden), 470.3 ft in length, while my engines were 749 hp nominal.
So after this disaster, you would think that was it, I was lying there on the bottom of Poverty Bay, minding my own business, gathering sediment. You would think that after removing my wheelhouse and everything else when I was wrecked, they would now leave me alone. But no, along comes this keeler from Northland, which cannot decide which region it belongs to (heard rumours she wants to support South Canterbury this weekend, but then she was supposed to be the impartial committee boat manned by people from Poverty Bay and Manawatu), dumps this anchor into my hatch and wraps all this chain around my topsides – when is it ever enough? Maybe they wanted to offer me this anchor, showing me how modern technology would have served me better? But no, she kept tugging at it insistently from above. Well I thought to snare her well and proper. This is the third day she was motoring around topside, dropping anchors and marks left, right and centre, so getting entangled with me put a stop to that for a bit.
And here are these sailing people, not a proper engine between them, and they think they are doing something special, racing for a trophy that was not even invented yet when I sunk!
You see, all that went down above the seas is a boat from Northland winning the Sanders Cup again. What’s the flap? But these guys think it’s important, so they dump this anchor and chain on me for their committee boat without any consideration of my peaceful rest, and then they get all excited just because they could not leave again in a second. So it delayed the start for an hour. So they had to use a dinghy for starting their races. What is that in comparison to the fate of a ship like me?
Ah well, let them do their thing. I am still going to be here after they are gone. They did all these races today, judging by what I can see from below, their circles were getting smaller compared to the previous days. The blue boat was the fastest the first time around, followed by a grey one and a white one. The grey boat was doing well on the second lot, and then I found out she has yellow decks, white sails, and the number 378 on them in red. What a mix of colours! The white hull was nicer to look at. I got a good view of her too, very sensible white decks, even some wood on her – just the sails looked funny, you could actually see through them! Except for where the number 359 was put in black. The other white boat had “Riders on the Storm” written on its side, which I got a good look at in the first race, but her sails were grey – what sort of colour is grey for sails, I ask you? That one chased the blue boat to the finish in the second race. However the most jarring one must have been this other boat of an indescribable blue-ish colour that had “Hot Gossip” written on its side. Her decks were nice timber, but her masts – green! That must be unheard of. She put them in the water twice for me to make sure of it – yes, green! Between races, I also got a full view of the blue boat, which has big yellow letters with “Trailblazer” on its side, and her sails at least are white – except for the red 524 plastered on each side. Where is their sense of propriety? And here is another curiosity: two of those who swam seemed to be female. That is unthinkable though, is it not? There was one more race, and the blue and grey boats were very close together for most of it. I think it was the grey one that finished first.
After decades under the sea, this does not really affect me. This anchor tearing at my remains however, and a diver disturbing my rest, that is not nice! Who do they think they are? They were so insistently tugging though, that I gave up and let it all go again. A shame really, I thought I had that keeler well entangled. A beautiful lady too, has been around for about forty years, so not too green… but she got off! Ah well, patience. Maybe one day one will stick. Or maybe some nice lady will join me down here, that would be a change for the better for once!