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Light winds hamper sailboat races

October 15, 2017 GMT

NAWILIWILI — When the winds die, races turn into armchair quarterback events while skippers toil to milk every breath of the zero-to-three-knot variable winds that blanketed Nawiliwili Harbor Thursday afternoon.

“They can’t even get to the start line,” came a comment from Lois Andersson, who along with youthful surfing winner Malia turned her attention to looking for crabs in the waves lapping the mole, or Nawiliwili Harbor jetty wall area. “Weatherly had the right idea. They’re going to eat.”

Weatherly’s notice of Did Not Sail crackled across the radio while Fast Company, bearing the start buoy, crawled to the start line peppered with comments from skipper Jim Saylor.

“Winds were light to nonexistent at the planned start time for the race,” said Nawiliwili Yacht Club Rear Commodore William Georgi. “But the race committee was optimistic (after checking numerous times with Lihue Airport conditions), and deferred the start time by 15 minutes in hopes of a rise in the winds.”

Six boats — four Olson 30s, a Sydney 36 and an Express 27 — bobbed to the start, the slow-motion action not calming the comments from the jockeying boats as the smaller boats bunched the line while Bonjolea II sat back of the pack.

Fast Company, hugging the buoy, got the advantage at the horn, chased on the upwind tack by Kato, OZone, Papa a‘u and Speedy, and Bonjolea II bringing up the rear while spectators managed to grab photos of the pack.

“Initially, the course was planned to be two short legs within the harbor (yes, the green Kalapaki buoy is still missing),” Georgi said. “But due to the weak wind and late start, the race committee (the sun sets at 6:30 p.m., said NYC’s Kevin Arndt, who opted for a land position instead of the spotter on Bonjolea II) decided to shorten the race to a single leg of 1.11 miles.”

In the crawl for the turnaround at the red No. 4 can, Fast Company stalled on the water and Kato slipped ahead, well ahead of the pack, chased by OZone, Fast Company and Speedy staying out of the traffic bad air.

Despite the lack of active wind, trouble blanketed the pack as OZone did a penalty turn, and Speedy spent time undoing its spinnaker woes (yes, balloons help milk the breeze).

Kato stayed clearly in the lead, shooting off a bottle of champagne after sounding the finish horn on a crawl of 22 minutes, three seconds and correcting to 22:05 PHRF to strengthen its lead in the seven-race standings of the NYC Gene Wells Memorial Series.

This was more than five minutes ahead of Fast Company (27:21 elapsed, 27:24 PHRF), which reclaimed its pace during the slide to the leeward mark.

“Boat for boat, Fast Company and Bonjolea II (27:22 elapsed, 29:10 PHRF) vied for the second spot, with Fast Company eking out the position by a single second at the finish line,” Georgi said. “In the PHRF corrected time, Bonjolea II beat out Speedy (29:09 elapsed, 29:12 PHRF) by a mere two seconds.”

OZone (31:28 elapsed, 31:31 PHRF), and Papa a‘u (33:36 elapsed, 32:10 PHRF) rounded out the fleet that saw Speedy correct to 25:40 Club for top honors in that class, followed by OZone (30:54 Club) and Papa a‘u (31:09 Club).

The final race of the NYC Gene Wells Memorial shoreline Series take place Thursday when first flags fly at 5 p.m.

The NYC Race Committee also announced its annual Halloween, or crew-costumed, race on Oct. 26, with the first flags flying at 5 p.m.