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Leander 2012 - NPCL Lyttelton

March the 1st – 4th saw the running of the 62nd Leander R Class national championships on Lyttleton harbour in Christchurch.

This year’s event would be marked by two major factors. Decidedly average weather and the continued development of hydro foiling boats. The challenging weather aside, the foiling development or lack of restrictions has seen a distinct splitting of the fleet, with at least 3 of this year’s contingent committing to foils and the rest backing on the conventional. 2012 had been billed as a contest between the highly experienced team of Sean Milner and Dan Leech against the 2010 champ Paul Roe back with his regular crew Jess Hix. Paul has continued to develop his hydro foiling R class TheVirtualand has showed remarkable reliability along with, at times, unmatched speed. The main issue of interest would be the overall performance of the foiling boats across a range of conditions in a championship format.

The fleet consisted of 15 boats of which 3 were foiling; More FM (Steve Macintosh and Tony Park), Merde (Dave Pairman and Steve Fortune) and TheVirtual (Paul Roe and Jess Hix). The conventional fleet was made up of a good mix of quality boats with more than few a sporting new livery for the event. R607 TheVirtual - Paul Roe and Jess Hix

Day one brought into focus the other factor of this year’s event, the weather. A 40kt southerly hitting with a vengeance early on Thursday. The morning was filled with sail measuring and posturing all with the underlying relief that the crews didn’t have to attempt to launch into the nicely sized breakers now hitting the slip way. Day two, early afternoon saw a 6-8kt NE sea breeze set in enough to start the contest in earnest. In an attempt to make up some ground the boats hit the water with the intent of completing up to 4 races back to back.

Right from the outset Milner and Leech stamped their dominance on the competition. Once again showing why they have been the most prolific pairing of recent years. The 4 races were a procession of wins for L3 showing a distinct performance advantage, brought home in the final race of the day when they started dead last after More FM tangled with the start boat, only to sail right through the entire fleet.

R609 Massive - Attack and R557 Custard Square The battle for the places behind were keenly fought. The most consistent of the rest was Kevin Holland and Doug Gale on the L3 Massive Attack gaining two 2nd places in races 2 and 3. The best of the hydro foiling boats was More FM with Steve and Tony showing remarkable speed to up wind in pressure that negated the ability to foil to windward. Finishing distances between 2nd and 8th were usually within 30 seconds to a minute with some fantastic racing between Chemical Weapon (James Collett and Nick James), Subwoofer (Aaron Jefferies and Matt Bancroft), More FM and L2 (Tim Allan and Paul Patrick). At days end the event was all bar disaster decided. With Milner and Leech having a strangle hold on the Leander trophy one race sort of a contest.

Day 3 saw the return of the southerly with 35-40kts forecast to hit around midday. The race director decided that this should give enough time to get at least one race away. With a high degree of trepidation the crews set about rigging in an attempt to make the start line. The breeze quickly built and within 5 minutes of the start the race course was littered with upside down R Class skiffs as the 30kt southerly wrecked havoc. R589 Merde - David Pairman and Steve Fortune

Off the start line the highly experienced team of Paul and Mark Macintosh showed their class in the borrowed Signature Homes. Giving the younger guys a in the fleet a lesson in how to sail in a breeze. It was a sight to been seen as they set their kite at the top mark and set off for the first downwind leg. Unfortunately the rig wasn’t as resilient as the crew, parting company half way down the run, leaving one of the lasting impressions of the competition.

The drama continued further back in the fleet as L3 broke its vang just before the start. Leaving Sean and Dan to undergo a make shift repair in difficult conditions to finish the race and shore up their position at the head of the leader board.

Merde showed remarkable reliability, and Dave and Steve considerable gumption, to win the race on hydro foils, when most of the conventional fleet were trying to flee to the safety of the slip way.

By the end of the day the standings were:

  1. L3 Sean Milner and Dan Leech
  2. Massive Attack Kevin Holland and Doug Gale
  3. More FM Steve Macintosh and Tony Park

Day 4 rolled around and it was decided to get another Leander race in as the southerly again built to a challenging 20 gusting 26kts. TheVirtual was clear ahead around the top mark with L3, Signature Homes and Subwoofer going around the top mark in quick succession. It was shaping up as the billed contest between L3 and TheVirtual until Paul and Jess executed one of the more spectacular dismounts of the contest, nose down with both foils high and dry!

At the bottom mark L3 was leading, but for the first time in the contest closely followed by both Signature Homes and Subwoofer. The final beat had L3 hold its advantage and lead to the finish to secure the coveted Leander trophy for 2012. Behind, the guys on Subwoofer surprised everyone, including themselves, to pip Signature Homes on the final gybe to the finish to claim second. This Leap frogged them up the final standings to a well earned 3rd. Massive Attack did enough to secure 2nd for the regatta and will be back in 2013 trying for one place better.

 R557 Custard Square -  Malcolm Snowdon and Ellen Palmer Special mention needs to go to Malcom Snowdon and Ellen Palmer on Custard Square, who would have probably reset some sort of record for the oldest boat to lead at the top mark, as their Dacron sporting machine showed a clean set of heels to the high tech fleet in race 3 of the first day. And James Collet whose manly beard and 1980’s head band set the tone for the contest.

Final Standings for the Leander trophy 2012:

        Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Race 4 Race 5 Race 6 Overall
Boat Skipper Crew Sail # Place Points Place Points Place Points Place Points Place Points Place Points Place Total
L3 Sean Milner Dan Leech 603 1 100.000 1 100.000 1 100.000 1 100.000 2 80.000 1 100.000 1 580.000
Massive Attack Kevin Holland Doug Gale 609 7 40.000 2 80.000 2 80.000 2 80.000 3 66.667 7 40.000 2 386.667
Subwoofer Aaron Jefferies Matt Bancroft 595 6 44.444 3 66.667 5 50.000 4 57.143 DNS 19.576 2 80.000 3 317.830
More FM Steve MacIntosh Tony Parks 565 4 57.143 4 57.143 3 66.667 5 50.000 DNS 19.576 6 44.444 4 294.973
TheVirtual Paul Roe Jess Hix 607 2 80.000 6 44.444 7 40.000 7 40.000 DNF 19.576 4 57.143 5 281.163
Merde Dave Pairman Steve Fortune 589 RAF 0.000 10 30.769 8 36.364 6 44.444 1 100.000 5 50.000 6 261.577
Signature Homes Paul MacIntosh Mark MacIntosh 610 9 33.333 9 33.333 9 33.333 9 33.333 4 57.143 3 66.667 7 257.143
L2 Tim Allan Paul Patrick 600 3 66.667 5 50.000 6 44.444 3 66.667 DNS 19.576 DNC 0.000 8 247.354
Chemical Weapon James Collett Nick James 582 5 50.000 7 40.000 4 57.143 10 30.769 DNS 19.576 DNC 0.000 9 197.488
Custard Square Malcom Snowdon Ellen Palmer 557 8 36.364 8 36.364 11 28.571 8 36.364 DNS 19.576 8 36.364 10 193.602
G Spot Milton Bloomfield Danny Folter 611 10 30.769 11 28.571 10 30.769 11 28.571 DNC 0.000 DNC 0.000 11 118.681
Blue Zoo Vaughn Snowdon Rowan Sinton 569 DNC 0 DNC 0 DNC 0.000 DNC 0 DNC 0 9 33.333 12 33.333
RaptR Walter Worthington Andy Gallagher 567 DNC 0 DNC 0 DNC 0.000 DNC 0 DNC 0 DNS 15.358 13 15.358
Acid Rock Heath Andrews George Hartly 570 DNC 0 DNC 0 DNC 0.000 DNC 0 DNC 0 DNC 0 14 0.000
Dirty Dancing Pete Hoskin Paul MacGibbon 573 DNC 0 DNC 0 DNC 0.000 DNC 0 DNC 0 DNC 0 15 0.000