The two recently imported New Zealand Twelve Foot Skiffs, Nice Action and DesignSource, could have been forgiven for thinking that they were back home in windy Wellington rather than rural Rutland when they joined the rest of their class at Rutland SC for the first round of the 2008 Barter Card 12’ Skiff Series last weekend. Bright sunshine, blue skies and a building breeze set the tone for what was to be an awesome weekend’s skiff sailing, combining both the 12s and 18s for one skiff sailing spectacular.
The five teams were as follows:- Bob Clements and Tim Noyce in Nice Action, Simon Roberts and Dave Turner in Bartercard, Iain Christie and Tom Vian in DesignSource, Andy Lang and Tom Gruitt in CST Composites and Neil Cardno and Ken Scott-Brown in Aqua Skipper. However all the teams were faced with a big decision…in the freshening breeze which one of up to four rigs would be the right choice? In the lee of the clubhouse things seemed fairly benign, however some windsurfers were clearly hammering it down by the dam wall in the racing area. Get the rig choice right and it would be twin wire action all the way, get it wrong and either watch the competition disappear over the horizon, or worse still, get a good laundering care of Rutland Water and mother nature!
Bartercard and DesignSource decided to go for one of Rutland’s excellent triple sausage baps and the No.2 rig, whilst CST, Nice Action and Aqua Skipper decided to play it safe with a croissant and the smaller No.3 rigs. This was to prove a wise choice…Bartercard and DesignSource launched and enjoyed a “code brown” sleigh ride down the dam in a matter of minutes…an awesome ride but getting round the course was to prove a different matter!
Sharing the course with the 18s meant that their downwind gate was also our start line, and with almost impeccable timing they were hammering downwind through the 12’s start with 5 seconds to go. When the 12 crews opened their eyes again it was to see CST leading to the top mark, a lead which they held on to with conservative and skilful sailing and a spot-on rig choice. Things were not going so well on the larger ragged boats…Bartercard shredded their mainsheet meaning an end to the day’s racing for them and DesignSource shredded their nerves trying to lay the downwind gate with far too much sail up!
Race 2 and 3 were…well…no-one really knows as they were all too busy trying to hang on for dear life…daggerboards waving, spray everywhere, near pitchpoles on the bearaways, and of course the inevitable swims. Bob Clements, on form having sailed at the 2008 12’ Skiff Interdominions in Wellington, was sailing very fast and was leading overnight, whilst on DesignSource a big rip to the kite on the first hoist of the last race slowed them down a lot and gave them plenty practice at 2 sail running and gybing a twelve foot boat in 20 knots. Yikes!
The evening was a predictable mix of excellent Rutland SC food, a visit to the pub, and possibly, just possibly, a beer or two. And a bottle of whisky might have been involved too…
Sunday’s forecast rain was nowhere to be seen as the bleary eyed crews rigged up in a light but building breeze and bright headache inducing sunshine, with Nice Action, CST and Design Source going for the big 1 rigs with Bartercard and AquaSkipper going for the slightly more conservative 2 rigs. However, despite their smaller sails Simon and Dave on Bartercard were obviously wearing their “Power Pants” to notch up a very convincing win on race 4. Races 5 and 6 were very similar with a battle royal between Bartercard, Nice Action and DesignSource…boats screaming for water as they twin wired into the leeward mark on opposite gybes with 60 square metre spinnakers and 12 foot fixed bowsprits, and DesignSource and Bartercard having two almost identical port/starboard near misses on the line with a finishing delta of under a second each time, both right-of-way and placings going to both boats evenly. However, in the meantime Bob and Tim had sneaked off to score two more bullets and win the event convincingly.
Final placings were:-
1st Nice Action Bob Clements & Tim Noyce 6 pts
2nd DesignSource Iain Christie & Tom Vian 5 pts
3rd Bartercard Simon Robert & Dave Turner 4 pts
4th CST Composites Andy Land & Tom Gruitt 3 pts
5th Aquaskipper Neil Cardo & Ken Scott-Brown 2 pts
Andy Lang & Tom Gruitt on CST Composites
Iain Christie & Tom Vian on DesignSource
Bob Clements & Tim Noyce on Nice Action