NAWILIWILI — The pony took a fall, but it didn’t matter — Papa‘au finished first, Thursday when the Nawiliwili Yacht Club inaugurated its Horse and Pony Series.
A good sized crowd, some with loungers, packed the jetty wall area, capitalizing on clear skies and crisp winds blowing in the 10 to 15-knot range out of the north-northeast.
The broad start saw two fields of boats as Bonjolea held the edge and went off to a good start, while OZone and Fast Company came out of the back.
The gap closed as OZone, racing without Chris Jordan at the stick, and Fast Company, right on the heels of OZone, took a different tack from the other three boats who headed to the breakwater before tacking to the No. 11 red can at the cliffs.
The return leg from the Ninini Point turn churned up surprises as Papa‘au, breaking out its spinnaker early, held the lead returning to Nawiliwili Harbor.
OZone followed along with Speedy, Fast Company and Bonjolea.
No changes heading into the final turn of the horse, or big boat, race, but there were some close racing as Papa‘au, still clinging to its lead, pushed for the finish line, OZone close on her heels.
The closeness of the race came down to the battle for third place when Speedy managed a one-second gap over Fast Company.
Papa‘au triggered the horn on a 26:55 elapsed sail and corrected to 25:46 PHRF and 23:48 Club for top honors in the Horse phase.
Ed Tschupp took the little boat, the Pony, out and despite a huli, paddling canoers term for flipping, was able to recover for a third place finish.
But the race is determined by combining both the horse and pony scores and Papa‘au managed a first finish of four points, just one point ahead of Bonjolea, the X-342 which crossed third on its corrected 28:49 PHRF and second in Club (25:02) after crossing the front phase third overall on a 29:58 elapsed sail.
Robert Wolaver took the pony out for Bonjolea and crossed second to give it an overall five points.
OZone, crossing second overall in the horse phase on a 27:08 elapsed, corrected to 27:11 PHRF for second, but Steve Mitchell, piloting the pony, finished fourth for the six points, a tie with Fast Company.
Fast Company’s horse crossed the line on a 28:47 elapsed, fourth overall, but corrected to 28:50 PHRF for fifth place.
But Lee Evslin pulled the pony across the line in first place for the six points, tying with OZone for third place honors.
Speedy, coming in third place from the outbound leg in the horse phase, crossed the line just a second ahead of Fast Company with a 28:46 elapsed sail and correcting to 28:49 PHRF good for third place.
But Scott Kessinger piloted the pony to a fifth place for a combined eight points total and fourth.
The exciting series continues Thursday and the public is invited to view the competition from the jetty wall as the horses prepare to leave with the first 5 p.m. flag.
The ponies gather at the mouth of the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor following the completion of the horse race and leave to a point on the inland course.
Visit www.nawiliwiliyachtclub.org for more information.
Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or email@example.com