Kato claims Wells opener

NAWILIWILI — Kato, an Olson 30, stayed clear of a protest that changed the order of finish Thursday during the opening race of the Nawiliwili Yacht Club Gene Wells shoreline series.

The protest, filed by Speedy, another Olson 30, in the third of the three-leg race spanning 6.11 miles, was another challenge to the race that was blanketed by 15-to-18-knot winds blowing in from the north to northeast. It changed the order of finish for the fleet that started with eight boats on the water.

“This was a good, clear start for all boats,” said Doug Tiffany, the NYC interim vice commodore. “Some of the boats reefed their mainsails and chose to fly a smaller headsail than normal because of the gusty winds.”

Kato, Fast Company, OZone and Bonjolea II built the early pack, bunched in a cluster with three to four boat lengths separating each other. Weatherly, Papa A‘u, Speedy and Iwa were in the second grouping that developed 10 to 12 boat lengths behind.

“At the windward mark of the third leg, a right-of-way infraction occurred between Speedy and Papa A‘u,” Tiffany said. “Speedy did the obligatory penalty turn, but protested Papa A‘u. Papa A‘u elected to retire following the race finish.”

The incident kept Kato ahead of the pack, sounding the finish horn on an elapsed sail of 1 hour, 2 minutes, 46 seconds and correcting to 1:01:27 PHRF for top honors in the opening race. Fast Company (1:03:09 elapsed) filled in second place at 1:03:32 PHRF, followed by OZone (1:03:45 elapsed, 1:04:09 PHRF).

Bonjolea II (1:06:16 elapsed, 1:10:37 PHRF), Weatherly (1:10:15 elapsed, 1:10:41 PHRF), Iwa (1:14:14 elapsed, 1:12:20 PHRF), and Speedy (1:13:16 elapsed, 1:13:43 PHRF) filled the leaderboard following Papa A‘u’s retirement.

Weatherly corrected to 1:03:57 Club for top honors in that division, followed by Speedy (1:04:06), and Bonjolea II (1:06:22 Club).

The second race of the NYC Gene Well Memorial Series takes place Thursday when the NYC Race Committee raises the first flags at 5 p.m. at the Nawiliwili Harbor jetty wall parking area.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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