2017 Zephyr Nationals Report

Thirty three boats competed in this years’ Zephyr Nationals, 5 from Auckland, 8 from Wellington, 2 Tauranga, one Hamilton and the remainder Canterbury. Considering that the time of year, the current difficulty of travel down the South Island and the somewhat remote location, this relatively small attendance was anticipated.

Although the weather generally in Akaroa was always fine and often superb, the sailing conditions reflected the NW flow over Canterbury so we experienced several fresh and variable north to nor’nor’westerlies and at times southerlies blowing up the harbour. As such, two days sailing were abandoned because the breeze was blowing 25 knots or more. However 8 races were completed over two days and a clear contest winner emerged. Socially there was a well-attended contest BBQ at AYC, and a dinner at the Bully Hayes restaurant.

Race Officer, Phil Folter and his crew guided the fleet through some difficult moments and held very fair races with good starts and only one had to be shortened (for lack of wind!). There 4 or 5 general recalls, resulting in most starts being U flag which the fleet had no difficulties adapting to. It is noted however that with U flag starts and the penalty reduced from two to one-turn penalties, skippers were more inclined to barge at the line and accept a one turn penalty rather than be disqualified for being OCS.

Two races were initially planned for Thursday 12th, but after a recalled start the wind shifted to the SW and strengthened, forcing them to be abandoned. Four races were scheduled for Friday, the first two held in an 18-20kn southerly. After lunch the wind shifted to a 12-15 knot NE which died and became shifty for the last race.

On Saturday 14th 2 morning races were managed in about 16kn shifty N –NNW. After lunch this breeze softened and became much more variable. One race was scheduled for the last day, which dawned fine and clear. However a wind change to the S-SW brought 25+knot breeze that persisted for several hours. With the fleet in “pack up” mode, a decision was taken to abandon the race in favour of completing the event.

Prize winners
Overall Champion Wayne Avery (Auckland), a sensational accomplishment after a relatively short period in the class.
Runner-up Phil Williams (Wellington)
Handicap Tim Bird (Canterbury)
Women’s Champion Sarah Berry (Wellington) – 11th overall.
Fresh Breeze Trophy (No previous National, International, Olympic or Americas Cup experience) Daniel Smith (Canterbury) 5th overall.
Heavy weight Trophy (over 85kg) Guy Taylor-Smith (Wellington) 10th overall.
First Townson-built boat Wayne Avery (#160)
40-49 age group Trophy Wayne Avery
50-59 age group Trophy Steve Pyatt (Auckland)
60-64 age group Masters Trophy Chris Hargreaves (Wellington)
64-69 Grand Masters Trophy Phil Williams
Over 70s Trophy Alex Aitken (Canterbury).

Health and Safety
One skipper abandoned the series after being boomed on day one, requiring stitches above the eye. One skipper missed several races with a wrenched knee sustained in a capsize. One skipper developed gastroenteritis, probably acquired pre-contest. On the final day when racing was abandoned, the seas were running fairly high and quite apart from the safety of the yachts themselves, the rescue boats were struggling in the waves and some could not practically have contributed to a rescue.

2018 Nationals
Worser Bay next year, likely late February.

Nationals 2017 Results

Posted: Monday 23 January 2017