Last weekend’s Harken Young 88 Nationals followed hot on the heels of the Southern Champs held in Lyttleton a week prior. Both events featured a quality fleet of fifteen boats, challenging conditions, world class talent, and as much fun off the water as on.
The pundits could not agree on the favourite. Would it be three times winner Zane Gifford and the talented crew on Raging Hormones, Team Barker with Jeremy “Jero” Lomas on the helm plus Dean’s other friends and family on Dangerzone, Nick Gillies and “Team Norths” on Waka Huia or Jonny Bell’s sailing heavyweights from the South with John Cutler on the helm sailing Undercover?
Saturday’s forecast looked fresh but manageable and Race Officer Celia Carson kept the fleet in the “home paddock” South of Rangitoto for a bit more shelter. The breeze built beyond expectation with sustained gusts well over 30 knots. The last run of the second race saw lots of wobbles and a few wipe-outs. Discretion got the better of valour and AP over A went up. It was a good call as the breeze at Bean rock showed the same fresh to frightening conditions for the rest of the day.
Sunday’s forecast promised lighter and more variable conditions, so we headed out to sea, North of Rangitoto. The breeze moved around enough to keep the volunteers busy, and the crews challenged. Marks were moved frequently and headsails changed up and down during the runs.
The Top Guns felt the pressure and need for speed so flicked the afterburner switch. The result was a dominant performance from Dangerzone. Five firsts, one second and a discard of fifth. Chief “Pilot” Dean said:
“It was great to be back racing in the Y88 class again after so long. I was very fortunate to be able to pull together a number of the guys that I have done so much sailing with over the years, go out and have a huge amount of fun racing what is still a fantastic and rewarding One Design class to sail. Even better, to have my daughter and her boyfriend racing with us, even though I am sure they would be a bit surprised at the banter on board the boat while we were racing!! Looking forward to racing the boat over the winter”
The crews, friends and family regrouped at The Squadron for prize giving. Commodore Aaron Young made a dedication and a toast in honour of his grandfather and class designer Jim Young who passed away last year. Roger Land the builder 99.9% of the 150 plus 88s related stories including the days when rules were made to be broken and you turned up with your Holden Kingswood and a trailer and towed your over width hull and decks all the way from Auckland to Wellington.
Prizes were awarded and photos taken. First on line went to Dean Barker and crew on Dangerzone. Second and the Tanaka cup for first owner driver went to Nick Gillies on Waka Huia. Third went to Zane Gifford on Raging Hormones.
First Corinthian crew (no pros aboard) and first mixed (at least two of the opposite gender) went to Paul McWilliams on War Machine. First on handicap went to Leigh Miller on Voodoo. The Taylor Trophy for sportsmanship went to Richard Ellis and crew on Inner Circle (boat number one) recognising their persistence, sense of fun and rapid improvement. Richard said:
“Inner Circle is the oldest boat in the fleet and it has history and as we’ve found to our surprise it is still competitive. My partner Cat and I are having a great time getting out there with our friends on the crew, learning, and improving at each event. We also find the other owners and crew very friendly and approachable so really enjoy the social side too. . The biggest battle is against my brother who is constantly finding new cruising gear to weigh down the boat!”
Thanks as always to the volunteers on the race committee led by Celia Carson for the fast and efficient race management and Doug Jury and his team of umpires; funny how well the boats behave when they are being watched.
Thanks also to event and class sponsor Harken NZ and the team from RNZYS the organising authority for another professionally run event on and off the water.