New Plymouth’s reputation as New Zealand’s premiere
big wave open ocean sailing venue is well intact after the 2019 North Island
Optimist Championships this past weekend. Big waves and at times good breeze
meant the young intrepid sailors will be spinning yarns about the walls of
water for years to come and no doubt the wave heights and sailor prowess in
managing the mountainous conditions will increase with each telling of the
story to their mates. Great stuff !
Day 1 dawned with a moderate northerly of around 15 knots. A building wind swell combined with a long period Southwesterly ground swell and a bit of reflection off the port breakwater made for a very confused sea state. Many of the competitors and volunteers found it challenging to say the least as the city’s sea sickness pills were depleted in record time. Prelaunch the anticipation and excitement buzzing around the boat park was infectious and a joy to witness. Race management got three races away in quick succession for all open fleets time and before we knew it day 1 was in the bag much to the relief of the regatta organisers. The wind dropped to 8 to 10 knots as racing progressed and those that had good power and a solid large wave sailing technique did well.
Day 2 saw similar conditions early on. Due to no shipping scheduled for the day the race committee was able to pull the open course back closer to shore and provide a slightly less confused sea state for racing to take place in. Race committee again did an excellent job and got 3 races away with most under U flag following a couple of early general recalls.
Green fleet launched a little later in the morning and the RO managed 4 glamour races in the relative safety of the port Taranaki harbour sanctuary. With the sun out and the course close to shore it really was champagne green fleet sailing conditions with lots of grins, smiles and laughter seen on the sailors faces.
Day 3 dawned a slightly different story. With wind gusting to 28 – 29 knots, waves approaching 3.6m, rain squalls limiting visibility intermittently and lightning in the area the race committee called racing off early after deeming conditions unsafe for racing. Although some of the hardcore at the top end were disappointed not to have a crack at a podium place it was in hind site the right call. With prize giving done and dusted by 11 am everyone was on the road home early which given the conditions was well received by those from out of town.
A big thank you to the NPYC team of around 60 volunteers and especially Toby Lecher and Wayne Holdt for hosting a superbly organised regatta in tough conditions. We’re looking forward to the next big wave regatta in beautiful Taranaki already !
Nhga mi hi.
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