Papa a‘u, Iwa grab opening races

  • Charlotte Ross/Contributed photo

    Papa a‘u snakes out a small lead over Iwa and Speedy heading out to the Ninini Point buoy, Saturday during the season opening races for the Nawiliwili Yacht Club at Nawiliwili Harbor.

NAWILIWILI — Papa a‘u, an Express 27, dropped the first race by just 10 seconds on Saturday when the Nawiliwili Yacht Club opened its 2019 racing season amidst the threat of strong winds and high surf.

“Sailors in the NYC Opening Day Regatta were treated to sunny skies, flat water, and gusty winds in the first races of the 2019 season,” said John Ross, the NYC Rear Commodore. “We had six teams competing in three races over three hours of racing during the only day that provides multiple keelboat races on the same day, affording multiple opportunities to gain an advantage with the best start.”

During the opening race where the fleet of six boats elected for full mainsails, Papa a‘u crossed the finish line fourth overall on an elapsed sail of 42 minutes, 55 seconds, but corrected to PHRF 41:16, for second place, giving up the lead spot to Bonjolea II that sounded the finish horn first at 38:34 and corrected to PHRF 41:06.

“The forecasted strong winds did not appear initially,” Ross said. “But by the middle of the race, the wind had strengthened and boats were struggling to keep under control. Several boats elected to reef for the second race, but the wind strength went up and down causing crews to re-think their decision. By the third race, most had gone back to a full mainsail.”

The crew aboard Papa a‘u came back to take first place on the remaining two races, 45:08 PHRF over Bonjolea II (46:18 PHRF), and 20:22 PHRF over Bonjolea II (21:22 PHRF).

“Papa a‘u, the smallest boat in the series, was very fast,” Ross said. “She managed the gusty conditions well, kept pace with the larger boats like Bonjolea II and Iwa, an Oceanis 41, to finish with two wins, and a second place.”

Bonjolea II secured a second place overall with her one first finish and two second places.

“The reaching starts for the first two races had the boats charging to clear the jetty for the first mark at the Ninini Point buoy,” Ross said. “The gusts demonstrated the importance of good focus and good crew work. Close mark roundings provided excitement for the crews.”

OZone, taking two third place finishes and a fourth finish in the third race, settled into third place over Weatherly.

“Iwa, the largest boat in the fleet, took advantage of the strong winds and reaching conditions to finish very strong in the Club class (33:46 Club, 40:37 Club, and 17:28 Club for first finishes in the class),” Ross said. “Weatherly finished second, and Speedy got the third place in Club class racing.”

The NYC Race Committee returns to its jetty wall vantage point Thursday when the first race of the Spring Shakedown Series takes to the water. The public is invited to view the excitement when the first flags fly at 5 p.m. at the Nawiliwili Harbor jetty 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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