NAWILIWILI — The crew aboard Papa‘au stayed out of the fray for first place, the conservative move unofficially giving it top honors in the Nawiliwili Yacht Club Horse and Pony Series which wrapped up, Thursday.
The conservative move was so conservative, Papa‘au did a double-back off the clean start, assuming it had incurred an “Over Early” infraction, although NYC Race Committee officials did not record any at the clean start of the final race of the series.
Holding a slim three-point margin in the overall standings, the move by Louis Abrams and the Papa‘au crew put the Express 27 in a solid third place throughout the two-leg Horse phase, a distance of 3.4 miles sailing in 10 to 15-knot winds out of the northeast, near ideal conditions for the Horses.
But the good conditions for the Horses proved critical for the Pony, or one-man little boats, who were given a Red 6 can turnaround, much to the delight of jetty wall spectators who were right on the action in the fading daylight.
With Papa‘au nestled solidly in third place, the battle for the lead was waged between two Olson 30s, OZone and Fast Company.
At the start, Fast Company pulled out for an early lead, but on the return of the first leg, OZone had managed to pull ahead of Fast Company, holding that lead until the final few yards heading to the finish line.
Coming off the final turn inland, Fast Company opted for a tack taking it toward the mountains while OZone selected the traditional mid-harbor open water tack.
The expanse of water separating the two boats came to a head on the final stretch as the OZone rail meat strained toward the finish buoy, Fast Company barreling down from the outside.
The horn sounded on OZone clearing the line on a 37:46 elapsed sail, a mere 13 seconds ahead of Fast Company. OZone corrected to a 37:49 PHRF for top honors, but its Pony operator finished fifth to give that crew six points for a third place following the combined races.
“Fast Company is in a real good position,” said Sharon Gibson of the NYC Race Committee. “With Papa‘au ahead by just three points, anything can happen.”
The second place finish, Fast Company correcting to 38:03 PHRF, dropped the Olson 30 crew from the running despite a strong showing by Jim Saylor piloting its Pony to a first finish, the lead being settled at the Red 6 turn when Saylor took the tight inside turn, relegating Ed Tsuchupp of the Papa‘au crew to the outside and second place.
Fast Company finished topping the race with a combined three points, Papa‘au getting second overall with a combined five points after its Horse crossed on a 41:00 elapsed sail and corrected to 39:15 PHRF for a solid No. 2 finish.
Bonjolea, an X-342, finished fourth with a 43:05 elapsed sail, correcting to 41:26 PHRF and its Pony finished third for a combined seven points, just a point behind OZone. Bonjolea also corrected to 36:00 Club for top honors in that division.
Speedy, the Olson 30 who always has a strong start, finished on a 41:37 elapsed sail, correcting to 41:41 PHRF and its Pony finished fourth for a combined nine points.
Coyote rounded out the pack on a 45:58 elapsed sail, correcting to 43:03 PHRF and ended with a combined 12 points.
Spectators wondering what happens following the final Horse and Pony Series should be delighted to learn the next series is the three-race Wahine Series where a wahine needs to be on the wheel during the race.
The Kaua‘i Channel Race, usually an annual event which fills in the void, had to be scrubbed this year due to the limited number of registrants by the deadline, Gibson said.
“We are all bummed there will be no Kaua‘i Channel Race this year,” she said. “That is always the best party of the year.”
This series starts on Aug. 11 and the public is invited to view the competition from the jetty wall area at no charge.
First flags fly at 5 p.m.
Visit www.nawiliwiliyachtclub.org for more information.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.