Derek Snow proved age is no barrier when he took out the 3.7 national championships at Wakatere recently as well as the veteran trophy and grand veteran medal.
Snow beat a fleet of 19 boats at the regatta, which contained seven sailors who were previous national champions, many of them multiple times. More entries had been expected but the weather forecast might have put some people off.
In the end, the conditions weren't nearly as bad as expected, although the third and final day of racing was abandoned partway through the first race due to zero visibility in very heavy rain. At the time, the sailing was thrilling and the closeness of all the racing exciting over the course of the six races.
Snow (Wakatere Boating Club) and Mark O’Brien (Hamilton Yacht Club) raced toe-to-toe throughout the event, with O'Brien having the edge in windier conditions and Snow excelling in lighter winds. The pair were pushed by Fergus Frame (Charteris Bay Yacht Club), who won the under-21 category, and Chris Hawkins (Wakatere), another grand veteran who was fourth on handicap and fourth overall.
John Kennett, last year's champion, got off to a good start with a second in the first race but he broke his rudder blade launching at start of the second day. Hamish Hall-Smith, who won the title in 2016, missed the first day of racing but showed his prowess on the second day with three thirds in a borrowed boat.
The weather certainly played a part in the series, with a mixture of different wind and wave conditions. This provided a true test as each race was different with a noticeable build in wind strength and waves during each day that required sailors to adapt and change gear.
Craig Fausett was first on handicap, just ahead of his brother Tony Fausett. Donald King won can of the contest for capsizing at the top mark and becoming completely entangled with it, but he also won the Kennett Cup for top sailor of the silver fleet.
The 3.7 are not the easiest boats to sail, but the satisfaction of blasting along upwind or downwind is enormous. The top sailors were all generous with their advice and encouragement, and it certainly increases everyone’s enjoyment when the boats are in the groove. Clearly this is a class that gets in your blood.
There are 150 active race boats on the class register and there are currently five race boats for sale nationally. Progress continues on plugs and moulds for a professional production run of new composite yachts to boost the fleet.
The number of yachts in the UK continues to grow with sail number 432 recently issued. In New Zealand, there are now as many yachts being actively raced in the South Island as the North and this is very good news for a truly national class even if it does slightly impact on attendance at national contests.
The 2018 national championships at Wakatere were held along with contests for another three classes and the standard of the event and the combination with the other classes outstanding.
Standings after the 3.7 class national championships held at the Wakatere Boating Club recently:
1st: Derek Snow (Champion, Veteran Trophy and Grand Veteran Medal)
2nd: Mark O'Brien
3rd: Fergus Frame (U21 trophy)
4th: Chris Hawkins
5th: Jeff Christensen (3rd on handicap)
6th: Chris Mitchell
7th: Tony Fausett (2nd on handicap)
8th: Craig Fausett (1st on handicap)
9th: Donald King (Kennett Cup, Can of the Contest)
10th: Tim Christensen
11th: Hamish Hall-Smith
12th: John Kennett (Veteran Medal)
13th: Louis Nel
14th: David Norman
15th: Phil Nicholls (Great Grand Veteran Medal)
16th: Silvana Nieto (1st woman)
17th=: John Elliott (Potty)
17th=: Paul Carpenter
17th=: Matt Connolly