Fast Company wins the race, but Kato wins the Series
The race conditions for the last race of NYC’s 2017 Gene Wells Memorial Race Series were ideal – 20 knots of trade winds coming out of the NNE and blue skies with a few rain squalls on the horizon. There were 5 Olson 30’s with shorten reefs in the mainsail and using their small jibs. Papa a’u, the only Express 27, went with a full mainsail had her crews hiking hard to keep the boat from heeling to far. At exactly 17:05:00 the start horn sounded with the fleet on starboard tack just behind the start line. The boats made good time in the calmer seas of the harbor, but once out heading for the lighthouse buoy they had to contend with choppy seas and gusts of wind coming off the airport headlands. As the gusts blew down on the fleet, several boats rounded up into the wind as their rudders lost their grip in the water. At the weather mark, OZone was positioned well on starboard tack with Kato converging on port tack. Kato gave way to OZone by taking their stern just as a gust hit OZone spinning her into the wind. This gave a window for Fast Company clear the buoy in the lead.
The fleet broke loose their spinnakers and flew back into the harbor. Spectators on the breakwater cheered the crews on as they flew past with bows throwing up spray in the wind. All the boats had to jibe at this point to make the leeward mark. Crews performed spectacular feats of balance as they struggled with spinnakers poles above their heads while standing on the foredeck of a boat slewing nearly out of control. The boats carried their chutes right up to the last second before rounding the leeward mark. Some boats timed it just right, but others had the spinnakers still coming down as they rounded the mark and trimming sails tight to make it back to the Lighthouse buoy.
The race continued and the final leg had Fast Company finishing first with a corrected time of 0:49:37 followed by Kato with a corrected time of 0:50:47. OZone finished third with a corrected time of 0:51:27. In Club Class Speedy finished first with a corrected time of 0:54:49 followed by Weatherly with a corrected time of 0:55:24. Papa a’u finished third in Club Class with a corrected time of 0:55:38.
The series final had Kato take PHRF First Place honors with 7 points, followed by Fast Company that had 12 points. OZone scored third place in PHRF with 16 points. In Club Class, the series winner was Speedy with 22 points, followed by Bonjolea II with 25 points. Weatherly took Club Class third place in the series with 28 points.