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