Kato breaks Fast Company’s win streak

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The crew aboard Kato gets a feel for the boat’s new sail while cruising the harbor before the first race of the Gene Wells Memorial Series at the Nawiliwili Harbor Thursday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Karl Andersson waits to raise the flag while Nawiliwili Yacht Club Race Committee people study the weather conditions while Papa A‘u and Speedy wait for the news during the first race of the Gene Wells Memorial Series in Nawiliwili Harbor Thursday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The window off the start of the Gene Wells Memorial Series, Race No. 1 reveals Bonjolea II, center with sails down, stuck after going aground Thursday in Nawiliwili Harbor.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The trade winds bloom out the spinnakers of Kato, the lead boat, Double Espresso, OZone and Fast Company, as Papa A‘u brings up the rear of the first leg during the first race of the Gene Wells Memorial Series in Kalapaki Bay.

NAWILIWILI — Kato, an Olson 30, capitalized on the return of the trade winds to take the opening race of the Nawiliwili Yacht Club’s Gene Wells Memorial Series Thursday afternoon in Nawiliwili Harbor.

“The winds were lighter than usual, coming in at 5 to 8 knots, and the sailboats had their large No. 1 jibs up for speed prior to the start,” said Chris Jordan, skipper aboard OZone and the NYC communicator.

The light winds accompanied by a slow drizzle threatened the race start as the NYC Race Committee pondered the situation until “a disaster of sorts happened just before the race.” Bonjolea II, a Sydney 36, went aground and was stuck in the “keel cleaner corner” near the G-7 buoy area.

“Fast Company, sweeping the four-race NYC Wahine Series, had a great start at the pin end with Jim Saylor steering,” Jordan said. “Papa A‘u was right in the mix with Tim Perry returning to the races and mixing it up with the Olson 30s that are a foot longer and faster.”

Jordan and the OZone crew were distracted by the stuck Bonjolea II and missed the countdown horns, reverting to do a crash jibe to avoid hitting the starting boats on starboard and ending in the middle of the fleet.

Coming in on the first of two legs in the 5-plus-mile course, Double Espresso “looked really good,” hot on the keel of Kato that had slipped into the lead of a four-way chase in the return of the trade winds that kicked in and tore the spider logo spinnaker on Speedy.

“They had to put up a less-competitive sail that slowed them,” Jordan said. “Weatherly hosted a crew of young sailors, and this was Brianna’s last race before she heads off to college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, so perhaps the 9-year-0ld Stella Fornari, who was also on the boat, can fill in for her.”

Following the jockeying and relishing the return of the winds and clearing of the afternoon rains, Kato took advantage of its new mainsail to finish first on a PHRF corrected sail of 1 hour, 14 minutes, and 31 seconds, breaking the win streak of Fast Company.

OZone recovered from its mis-played start to claim second at 1:15:00 PHRF, with Fast Company settling for third place, ten ticks back.

Double Espresso claimed top honors in the Club Class, followed by Papa A‘u and Weatherly.

“Bonjolea II was able to finish the race after getting un-stuck following the race start and, hopefully, they have no significant damage,” Jordan said. “They also provided the post-race dinner of pizza, salad and watermelon, where Terry Wells, the son of Gene Wells, his wife Carol and the grandkids (sailing aboard Weatherly) were enjoying the races.”

The second race of the Gene Wells Memorial Series will take place Thursday when the first flags fly at 5 p.m. from the Nawiliwili mole 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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