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New Zealand, 2012 Hurricane Classic

Worser Bay, Wellington

20 & 21 October

by Adrian Coulthard

The event began as most OK events do, by meeting up the night before and having a couple of social beers. We were joined by a good turnout of Aucklanders, who all brought their Finns to sail against the Wellington Finns. The main topic of conversation revolved around the new “Woodys” that have been seen in a workshop in Miramar – top work by the Watercut team, we are looking forward to hopefully launching one or two of them at Turangi! The other topic of conversation was the price of beer in the Gasworks – you know it must be expensive if even the Aucklanders were complaining!

So everyone gathered at Worser Bay on Saturday, and rigged up. The forecast was for the wind to steadily increase throughout the day, so the decision was made on shore to sail 4 races back to back.

To start, the wind was 14-17kts generally from the North, with a bit of westerly thrown in to make it a bit more interesting.

Colt made a good start in the 1st race, sailing the Green Whore for the last time before it departs to it’s new owner. Local experience and skill showed through with Wellinton boats taking the first four places, Joe being a notable 2nd.

The next race saw Gouch and Adrian round the top mark quite away ahead of the rest of the fleet, Gouch maintaining his lead off wind, and with Chris showing good speed downhill closing the gap on Adrian. On the 2nd beat Gouch made steady progress, and Adrian made the most of the shifts to put some space between him and Chris, and at the finish it was Gouch first, then Adrian in second (his best finish so far in a ranking regatta race) and then Chris in 3rd.

The third race the wind began to slowly increase, and the fleet was pretty close up the first beat, with Colt getting to the top mark first, closely followed by Stetchy, Adrian and Gouch. On the downhill Gouch edged passed Adrian, who managed to stick with Stetchy. Upwind was again testing with places to be lost and gained in the shifts. Circumstances also took their toll on two of the competitors, forcing retirements from Stetchy and Chris, both who were doing well at the time. A pattern began its formation with this race, that would see the same two people filling the top two positions in the remaining races. Race 3 saw Colt take the bullet, with Gouch 2nd, and Adrian in 3rd.

The 4th race was the windiest of the day, and by its conclusion was a steady 18, with gusts up to 25kts. All the sailors coped well, and again things were close (aside from the top 2!) as places were exchanged all the way to the finish line, Although two places were exchanged at the gybe mark – it pays to do your gybes! Gouch took the last race of the day, from Colt, and then Joe.

How much that 3rd place cost Joe, could be seen when he tried to climb the stairs at the Yacht Club. Joe was last seen hobbling towards his car in search of painkillers and rest.

After a couple of beers at the club, both fleets (OKs and Finns) met up at the Lone Star, to see who could eat the biggest meal. After a long wait, we were rewarded by some pretty big dinners. The Finn boys probably eat the most, although if Emma Steiner had eaten her veggies she would have won. Early nights for most people, although a couple of the younger Finn guys showed an affinity to the OK class by damaging some rum late into the night.

The next day dawned with an ugly forecast for plenty of wind. Luckily, to take peoples mind off the weather, Megs, Stetchy and some other WBBC members had cooked a great fry up for the sailors. Much appreciated by all, especially by some of the Finn sailors hoping to get rid of the taste of rum.

The was a fair bit of discussion over what the weather was going to do, should we race, should we put the AP up, should we get the start boat round from Port Nich etc. Eventually a decision was made, the AP up, some new instructions written on the board, which set out using the club line, courses to starboard, and a grandstand view for the new Race Officer – Joe Porebski.

The wind that greeted the 6 OKs planning to race was a steady 20kts, with gusts up to 28kts rolling through. This made for interesting launching for some, with 531 showing its centreboard at the bottom of the ramp, making Adrian late and crossing the start 10 seconds after the other OKs. As expected, Gouch and Luke (who were on the same points) were making the early play and headed up the first beat to round 1 and 2. Adrian opted to tack out on port and got a good lift, and managed to round in 3rd, followed by Chris, Rob and Julian. The reaches were a blast, with everyone coping with the gybe. The next beat saw a couple of changes, with Chris and Rob getting past Adrian. We then had the flat off (that is once we were able to bear away enough!) We could still see Gouch and Colt, and it was fun to watch them try and outsmart each other. It was slightly worrying about what was in store for us at the gybe mark, when we saw Colt opt for the granny. Chris and Rob got near the mark close together, Chris managing to gybe, Rob opting for something else, and Adrian sensing an opening went for the gybe, managing to round at the same time as Rob. Gouch took out race 5, followed by Colt, with Chris 3 and Adrian just beating Rob for 4th, and Julian 6th.

The Napier boys decided that making the effort to drive down to Wellington was enough, and didn’t feel they needed make the extra effort required to sail the final 2 races so they sailed back to the club.

The remaining 3 OKs of Gouch, Colt and Julian started the 6th race, with Gouch taking an early lead. Colt made the most of his ex Perrow fat boy sail and pushed it to the limits on the downhills. This left the people in the club an entertaining battle to watch from a great vantage point. As it stood, Gouch only had to round the bottom mark and a conservative sail to the finish would give him the trophy. It must have seemed to Colt that he could do nothing to claw in the leader, however the gybe mark changed all that. Gouch was un-characteristically caught out, and ended up canning out. The watchers were all guessing what Colt said as he sailed past to take the gun. Julian finished the race for a creditable 3rd.

The OKs were given the choice of racing the final race, and to their credit all unhesitatingly said yes, so basically the winner would be decided by this race. The wind had steadily increased and it’s a testament to the skills of the sailors that they put on a great spectacle for the spectators. The 2nd beat saw Julian gracefully retire – good effort award for staying out (and a premature sigh of relief from Joe when he mistakenly thought his 4th place was secure based on his own maths – not the case!). Gouch sailed well, and created a lead, Colt did his utmost to catch up, taking some scary risks downhill, and even getting the ‘old whore airborne at one stage. This race both boats survived the final gybe mark, and Colt closed up on Gouch, but Gouch managed to hold on to win, and with it won the 2012 Hurricane Classic, from Colt in 2nd, and Adrian in 3rd overall.

Thanks go to all the volunteers who helped make the event a success, a warm welcome to Matt Perry in 458 sailing in his 1st (of hopefully many) ranking event.

The author would also like to thank Greg Wilcox for his help sorting out a proper hiking position with me - it certainly helped get my 1st podium finish!

2012 Hurricane Classic - Results
1Paul "Gouch" Rhodes517 (White)41211218
2Luke "Colt" O'connell47414122129
3Adrian Coulthard53162344111130
4Julian Bishop5168867631138
5Joe Porebski523275311111139
6Rob Hengst53376465111139
7Chris Fenwick5095311113111144
8Matt "Stetchy" Stetchman517 (Blue)35111111111152
9Matt Perry458997811111155
10Hamish Fenwick500111111511111160