O Zone works the wind magic at Wild Bill No. 2

NAWILIWILI — Papaau, an Express 27, veered hard as Malihini, the sole catamaran, lumbered silently past the yacht, narrowly missing contact.

“You are over,” the voice of Sharon Gibson, the starter for the Nawilwili Yacht Club’s Wild Bill Memorial Series, announced. “Papa‘au, you are way over!”

That announcement caused the crew abord the Express 27 to veer back into the harbor so it could properly restart at the second of seven races in the Wild Bill Memorial Series.

The after-work crowd watched intently from the sea wall as the flotilla of six boats jockeyed for position in preparation for the starting siren and flag.

“I like that one,” one of the workers said, pointing out Bonjolea, an X-342 sporting a black striped keel.

“Nah, the other one’s better,” another of the workers said. “Look at how fast he maneuvers.”

He was referring to OZone, an Olson 30, that clearly commanded the waters yesterday.

Its crew garbed in all-blue smartly moving about the deck as the craft took best advantage of the 10 to 12 knot Easterlies.

“This is good wind for racing,” Gibson said. “Last week, it was blowing really bad and a couple of boats blew their mains.”

The after-work crowd scratched their heads as they watched the flotilla break apart as each boat’s skipper tried their own tack to the first buoy located on the far cliff of Kalapaki Bay.

“He’s going to check the crab traps,” one worker said, clearly enjoying the complicated tack strategies.

But it was not smooth sailing as the group hit dead air just before the first buoy.

“What happened?” the after-work crew wondered. “Why are they taking so long?”

O Zone demonstrated its mastery of the Thursday conditions, playing out its spinnaker first to take advantage of the trades.

That put her clearly in the lead coming out of the short course, heading to Ninini Point and back.

When the winds finally abated, O Zone was the clear winner on a PHRF corrected time of 47:51 for the 3-mile course. On actual elapsed time, OZone beat out Papa‘au by almost five minutes.

But with the PHRF correction, Papa‘au crossed second at 50:26 with the correction.

Third place went to Bonjolea (53:06 PHRF) followed by Speedy, another Olson 30 (54:04 PHRF)), and Mapuana, a Wells 35, crossing at 56:06 PHRF).

The Malihini was the only catamaran in the race and finished at 54:20 PHRF.

The Wild Bill Memorial Series continues Thursday and Gibson said the public is welcome to view and enjoy the race as well as the post-race festivities.

First flag flies at 5 p.m. from the Nawiliwili Harbor jetty wall.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer, writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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