This year’s edition of the Interprovincial Challenge offered a variety of conditions making for a very close contest where seven boats had top three finishes.
When Northland chose to hold
their fifth consecuitve defence on Lake Taupo, the Horowhenua Sailing Club
offered to host the contest in Motuoapa. Being unable to sail on their home
waters, the Club was looking forward to creating a fun setting and good
sailing, harking back to the 1981 Sanders Cup held at the Manawatu Sailing Club
in Foxton where the Kingham Trophy was actually sailed at Lake Horowhenua.
Phil McNeil won the invitation race back then, but Lake Taupo did not favour him this time. A wet and overcast day made sailing tricky. The invitation race, set as a triangle course just off Motuoapa marina, was sailed in moderate breeze. Wade McGee and Demian Dixon on FDSM led around the top mark ahead of Phlipnhel. Phil McNeil and Craig Gilberd nearly caught the Wellingtonians on the finish line but FDSM narrowly kept their lead, winning the beautiful Kingham Trophy.
At the 95th edition of the historic Sanders Memorial Cup, the competition was very close with six of the eight challengers having won this interprovincial contest before.
Crucial preparations involved
an awesome dinner and a late evening at the House up the hill. It has been said
that many secrets were spilled that night.
In the first two races of the Sanders Cup, the surprise entry from Auckland showed that the oldest boat in the competition had not lost any of its speed during its stint overseas. Bungholio won the first race and were comfortably leading the second one when their rudder broke. Chance had it that Northland lost their crew to injury, so Rob jumped ship and sailed the remainder of the contest with Phil.
Canterbury benefited from
Auckland’s disaster and took a race win after coming third in the first race,
putting them in the lead after the first day.
On the second day, race wins went to Wellington and North Harbour, which meant the fleet was very close together on points before the final two races. Wellington was the exception, sporting a comfortable lead, as they were the only team who consistently scored in the top three.
A win in the sixth race confirmed the success for Wade and Demian, wrestling the trophy from Northland to go back to Wellington with all the silverware on offer.
It was an emotional win for FDSM, as the crew had lost their first Javelin, that they had lovingly rebuilt and optimised over years, in a car accident 18 months ago.
The competitors appreciate the tough racing, while ashore there is a lively exchange of experience and knowledge. This extends to mutual assistance when gear fails, as in the case of the sailing sailmaker taking the batten ends of his spare sail to replace the bent ones on the OA.
Something would be missing without some more lighthearted awards. Craig Gilberd got awarded the Dog Trophy by Head Brother Colin Shanks for sustaining an injury while trying to get back into the boat after a capsize.
The famous DFL trophy is earned by the skipper with the highest score who finished all races.
Huge thanks are due to the
hosts David and Margaret Feek who provided the venue and amazing hospitality.
The fleet appreciate the efforts of the Horowhenua Sailing Club and the Race
Management Team under Tony Brown who together did a superb job delivering a
great regatta and fair sailing.
The Sanders Cup Association
is continuing their enthusiastic support of the Javelin Skiffs as the Class
that this exceptional trophy should be competed for, considering the amount of
regions as well as the range of crew and skipper age, weight and gender that
were represented at this event.
At the Taupo Regatta on 9/10 March the fleet will come together again before the National Championships that will be held 29-31 March in Howick, Auckland. For the latest international news and photos please visit the Facebook page and find out more about the Class on http://www.javelins.org
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!
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.