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New Zealand, 2020 Rum Bucket

Wakatere BC, Auckland

31 Oct. - 1 Nov.

By Gordon Sims

Some photos at Flickr

31 OK’s convened at Wakatere Boating Club for the annual Rum bucket event to be raced on 31 October and 1 November, with visitors from Wellington, Napier and Sandspit warmly welcomed and joining a strong local Auckland fleet.

Day 1 started with the best conditions anyone could hope for. A week of moderate North easterlies had built up a comfortable swell, the wind was rock steady in direction at 15-18knots, sun was (mostly) shining, and warm water. Launching in the onshore swell at Wakatere can have its challenges but low tide makes it much easier. Regardless there was enough concern to re-invigorate the discussions around kick up rudders later that evening.

PRO for the weekend Pauly Davies, recently crowned as a new International Race Officer, promised a course immediately in front of the club, and then after launching promptly set off a couple of miles to the north, giving all the sailors a chance to warm up the leg muscles before the start. The more northerly course was a great move, however, being well out of the lee of Rangitoto and making the best of the conditions for both wind and waves.

Race 1 got away cleanly, and in a sign of things to come Luke O’Connell and Ben Morrison showed excellent boat speed in the conditions and stepped out to a commanding lead. They remained neck and neck for the entire race, with Ben sneaking an inside overlap at the critical last mark before a reach to finish. Colt however came out of the gybe faster and was able to get through Ben to leeward to take 1st, with Ben a close 2nd, and Gordon 3rd.

Race 2 saw marginally stronger winds, and an excited fleet was recalled and restarted under U flag. With a significant westerly change expected the fleet started to cover the left of the course upwind. Downwind rides brought smiles all around, but were getting challenging as the swell steepened, with several sailors reporting getting swamped by a rogue breaker. Luke and Ben again took the top 2 places, with Dave Hoogenboom filling out 3rd. Whilst the sailors revelled in the conditions the waves proved challenging for some of the race management crew, with sea sickness causing some early retirements.

Race 3 started in the same conditions again, but with the front clearly approaching from the west it was apparent anything could happen. Pauly stuck to his word and kept with the U Flag, which penalised Luke’s uncharacteristic early start. Three-quarters of the way up the first beat it was all to play for, with the fleet spread wide, and no shift yet apparent. However in the last moments the rain arrived, and the wind started moving. Ben Morrison led from Simon Probert around the first mark, reaching away in a rapidly rising, swinging breeze and pelting rain. Not content with a mere 20-30 degrees Huey punished those on the right of the course with a near 90 degree shift in the final yards of the beat, giving Ben, Simon, Hoogie, Gordon and Eric a comfortable lead on the first ‘reach’. As the rain built to tropical levels visibility all but evaporated, and the reach turned into a beat. Thankfully Luke, in his bright green hull, had kept going after his UFD and his boat could be seen somewhere near what used to be the gybe mark providing some guidance to those behind. In heavy rain, and the wind at 130deg to what was still a strong swell the rest of the race provided some conditions not seen by many before, power reaching into the swell launched the boats off the waves into some hard landings, and the final beat to the finish whilst surfing down large waves provided more passing lanes than anyone expected. Ben took the win, and another Tiki for his collection, followed by Simon and Eric.

As the rain eased the wind evaporated to a glass-off and with some ominous thunder clouds around Pauly took the sensible decision and sent the fleet home for early refreshments.

An excellent day’s sailing ( the best racing in 10 years was quoted) was followed with, as would be expected, a strong evening’s entertainment. Refreshments and an excellent meal at the club ( thank you New World) provided a great build up to the much anticipated Bledisloe Cup game. Unfortunately with the early finish to sailing many competitors peaked early, and the fleet retired to their sofas at home to enjoy the 9:45pm game.

Sunday dawned with clear skies, and a light north westerly, and the local sailors were missing any Australian visitors who might have been interested in discussing last night’s match. With 4 races to complete Pauly set a course close to shore in shifty conditions.

After a disappointing first day Coach was looking forward to being able to apply brains over the brute force effort required the day before, and Luke desperately needed to complete 4 races to be able to discard his UFD. Simon was searching for some consistency, whilst Ben and Eric were keeping quiet.

Race 4 got away cleanly, and the lighter wind saw some lead changes. The unpredictably shifty north westerly saw smarts and risk management being well rewarded. Luke again took the win, this time followed by Oldsie and Jono respectively, with the previous day’s leaders well buried in the fleet.

Race 5 was similar, although as the wind slowly built and shifted south it seemed to settle down slightly. The start line was becoming difficult, and felt short, with a building cross tide pushing boats towards the committee boat, and Pauly uncharacteristically let the fleet off going to U Flag after the 1st general recall of the day. Dean led the way on the first lap, but was overtaken to see a close 3 way battle at the top for Ben to take the win, with Luke 2nd, and Simon 3rd.

Race 6 saw Pauly run out of patience, and another General Recall meant a U Flag start, to Simon and Brett’s expense. Gordon was first around the top mark, and with 2nd placed Bushy running interference on the first reach Gordon had a commanding lead by the bottom of the course, which he just managed to hold onto through a shifty 2nd beat, only to take the wrong side of the last run. Luke took the win, Gordon sneaked into 2nd, and Greg 3rd.

The final Race 7 was again started under U Flag, this time to Gordon’s expense who was well over at the boat end. Large shifts on the first beat saw the fleet turned upside down, with overall leaders Luke, Ben and Eric well buried, and newcomer Sean taking the lead, followed by Grant, Alistair and Phil R. Luke was making gains climbing through the fleet, but an expensive tack onto starboard into heavy port tack traffic cost him dearly and although all competitors took the appropriate penalties it showed that being ‘in the right’ isn’t always the right thing to do. With Luke’s climb through the fleet halted, and other leaders buried, Sean, in his first season in the boat, was left to take his first Tiki, with Grant in 2nd, and Alistair 3rd.

As always, the competition was not always at the front of the fleet. Ongoing good natured rivalries continued throughout the weekend. Sefton relished beating Dean by just one point overall and Nigel enjoyed a 15th in the last race. Well known to the fleet, but relative newcomer to sailing in it Oscar Paulich showed what he will be capable of when he gets his new boat up to speed, whilst John Newman posted a very credible 8th overall with not a lot of time in the boat, 2 names to watch out for.

Overall Luke was able to drop his UFD, and carried only an 11th in the last race to blot an otherwise near clean sheet. Ben just held onto 2nd overall, holding out Eric by one point. Gordon was left to rue his UFD and finished 4th, closely followed by a very consistent Greg Salthouse in 5th.

2020 Rum Bucket - Results
PlaceSail No.ClubNameR1R2R3R4R5R6R7TotTot-1
1NZL 578WBBCLuke O'Connell11UFD121114917
2NZL 580WBCBen Morrison22111110144127
3NZL 583WBCEric Rone44385483628
4NZL 587WBCGordon Sims3651462UFD6836
5NZL 584WBCGreg Salthouse5713164395741
6NZL 563WYCDavid Hoogenboom10366107125442
7NZL 592WBCRod Davis2659412846842
8NZL 54 SSYCJosh Newman81041314566046
9NZL 565WBCSimon Probert614293UFD208654
10NZL 567WBCChris Fenwich91187712197354
11NZL 536WBCJono Clough118731919107758
12NZL 559TYCGrant Pedersen716112081527959
13NZL 589WBCSean Clearly1415121216917963
14NZL 542WBCAlistair Deaves1618151813638971
15NZL 546WBCThomas Olds1817162914DNC10876
16NZL 588WBCAdrian Coulthard139171523111710582
17NZL 561WBCBrett Daniels1213101715UFD1611583
18NZL 564WBCSefton Powrie242214521161812096
19NZL 568WBCDean Coleman172426251113712397
20NZL 574WBCPhil Rzepecky2219192124185128104
21NZL 571NSCRob Hengst19122129222013136107
22NZL 526WBCDan Bush15202026311725154123
23NZL 555WBCMichael Morrison20212322172624153127
24NZL 478WBCOscar Paulich23251831272322169138
25NZL 560WBCTim McDowell21232523252423164139
26NZL 339WBCJohn Henderson29272219262226171142
27NZL 569WBCPhil Coveny27262427202521170143
28NZL 511WBCNigel Comber28282730282115177147
29NZL 497WBCHarry Milne25DNCDNC1018dnfDNC181149
30NZL 498WBCGraham Arcus30DNCDNC24302728203171
31NZL 475RNZYSGraham LambertDNCDNCDNC28292827208176

UFD, DNC, DNF etc: 32pts