It's not often a 12-year-old gets to helm a keelboat in a fleet race but that's exactly what happened at the CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week yesterday.
In the Island Racing C division, regatta founders and volunteers Tony and Nina Kiff handed over the helm of their boat Wetherley to youth sailing student Oscar for the day.
Oscar, aged 12, is on board Wetherley for the regatta with the help of youth sailing coach Robbs Hielkema, who saw an opportunity for his students to gain valuable big boat experience by finding them spots as crew for Bay Week. Oscar rose to the challenge ably, and Wetherley placed a respectable ninth out of 16 boats with the first-time keelboat sailor on the helm.
The island racing or 'cruising' divisions are typically well supported at Bay of Islands Sailing Week. Many entrants enjoy the more relaxed style of racing these divisions offer, preferring it to the fast-paced windward leeward battles of the racier divisions. And 2018 is no exception, with nearly half the total regatta entries - 51 boats - opting for the island racing divisions.
Grant Wichman on Integrite was first over the line in Island Racing C Division, and was doubly pleased with the race officer's decisions today to delay racing until a sea breeze kicked in. "We were very happy today because they changed the course to the one we wanted. And they also waited for the wind to increase and become steady. Today we had a fair breeze and everyone had a good sail. It was much improved on yesterday."
On Saltshaker, it was less about the competition and more about just having fun - a common theme among the island racing fleet at Bay of Islands Sailing Week. Spirits on board Saltshaker weren't the least bit dampened by coming last in Island Racing C Division yesterday and. as co-owner Imogen said, "it's all about having fun, we don't mind where we come".
In the Weta fleet, Paralympian Chris Sharp was nothing if not consistent for the first half of the day, with a further two second places added to the three second placings he secured on the first day. But it was the final race of the day when Chris really shone, sailing home over two minutes ahead of his nearest rival to secure his first line honours of the regatta.
In the evening, Peter Montgomery made a surprise appearance at the apres-sailing function when he made a short speech as part of the regatta's 16th birthday celebration, on behalf of one of the regatta's major sponsors, NZL Sailing Foundation. He congratulated the regatta organisers and volunteers as he again described CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week as "the best big boat regatta in New Zealand," and added: "Long may it continue."
Racing concludes today with a forecast of similar light and fine conditions. The prizegiving ceremony will take place in the North Sails & Hall Spars Marquee in Opua at 7.30pm.
Full results can be found here.