One of the things than can normally be relied on when sailing at Bream Bay is steady winds. Except when the Flying Fifteen national championships rolls into town.
Last month's event hosted by the Onerahi and Marsden Yacht Clubs was raced in a range of conditions from warm light breezes, to shifty breezes, to the odd blasting with rain thrown in for good measure over the nine-race series.
Murray Gillbert and Jonathon Burgess from the Royal Akarana Yacht Club came out on top, finishing ahead of Rob Ward and Bruce Yovich (Onerahi Yacht Club) and Nathan Percy and Scott Pedersen (Napier Sailing Club).
There was some close racing at the front of the 12-boat fleet, with all three crews who finished on the podium taking out race wins as well as the mixed combination of Sally Garrett and Neil Easton (RAYC) who won two races on their way to fourth overall.
The first days sailing was a real shakedown for many of the crews, with four boats having new skipper / crew combinations. Gillbert and Burgess showed their experience and came out with a four-point lead over Ward and Yovich, who had a narrow lead over Garrett and Easton sailing outside their preferred wind range.
Percy and Pedersen, a new combination sailing the oldest boat in the fleet, found form on day two with a 1, 2, 2, 4 scorecard to move into third.
The fleet had two very different races on the final day: the first in a strong shifting breeze as a large rain squall cell moved across the bay.
This mixed things up with Garrett and Easton taking the win by a substantial margin ahead of Percy and Pedersen, with Gillbert and Burgess third.
That result meant Gillbert and Burgess, sailing Ffrenetic, held an unassailable lead but, to prove a point, they made a complete hash of the last start, failed to take the first shift and had a good view of every transom in the fleet.
They then took advantage of a slice of luck to round the first mark in the lead, something they held onto for the rest of the race.
With a national lockdown only days away, nobody dared to sniff, sneeze, cough or even shake hands at the prizegiving, which was hosted at the idyllic location of the Marsden Yacht Club.
Results and standings from the Flying Fifteen national championships at the Onerahi and Marsden Yacht Clubs:
1st: Murray Gillbert / Jonathon Burgess (Royal Akarana Yacht Club) 1 1 (3) 2 3 3 1 3 1 - 15 points
2nd: Rob Ward and Bruce Yovich (Onerahi Yacht Club) 2 2 5 5 1 1 3 (6) 2 - 21 pts
3rd: Nathan Percy and Scott Pedersen (Napier Sailing Club) (8) 5 2 1 2 2 4 2 5 - 23 pts