A soggy start for the first round, followed by a fine windy day on the Saturday. Sunday was great until 1PM when the rain came back and racing was called off a bit early.
Congratulations to the winners, please see below for the results table. Thanks to the volunteers, the hosts the Bay Club, Teresa Tootill our PRO, and the ladies who keep us well fed.
Below is an abridged submission from Barry’ Emms from Canterbury.
The 2016 North Island Open, was held this year at Blokart Heaven (Blokart International headquarters) in Papamoa.
Friday afternoon Michael Denton and I rolled into Blokart Heaven and decided on a good car park next to a gazebo kindly erected by our hosts. The land at Papamoa becomes water logged at the slightest hint of rain. On arrival we noted the huge puddles on the track, especially bad at one corner that must be on the low side and deep enough to float a boat
Saturday morning the Norris, Denton, Emms team were in the best parking spots, close to shelter by 8 am sharp and we went about preparing for the racing ahead, weighing in and scrutineering. This was a low key check but no problem to us as our gear is all compliant and good to go. Davie was sailing in the heavyweight division with Michael. In Production there were only five entrants and due to the large weight variation the class was divided into a light and heavy division that sailed as one group but the results were split accordingly. In the light division Amanda and Mitchell were sailing with Auckland member Kayla Heron. Kayla is still a relatively new member and was originally entered in Cruiser class. As she was the only entrant the race committee asked her to move into Production. This was achieved by removing the pod from her Kart, and a borrowed fiberglass section for her 5.5m.
Paul Beckett was soon on the job pumping the worst corner out with partial success. Did I mention that it had been windy all night and raining before day break on Saturday? That’s the downside. The upside, temperature was warm, for the hardy southerners anyway, so getting wet was not so hard to take. Davie was keen to check the track and was soon out with a few other hardy sorts circulating around and though the puddles. Wind strength was good and 4 M sails were the main choice with a few 3 M for the lighter sailors. During the day the rain eased off as did the wind at times. The sun came out and so did 5.5 M sails. later in the day the wind picked up, back to 4 M sails then by the last round of races it was back to 5.5 M.
Papamoa track is a small circuit with a number of islands breaking up the sealed surface and it’s possible to sail right around the outer edge or between the varies islands.. The initial track layout consisted of two markers, one at each end of the track, one about at the upwind end and one at the downwind end. One might imagine that this would be a very boring circuit, not so. There were a variety of ways to sail from one end to the other. On one side of the track is a small hill, a great vantage point to study the track and those who were sailing. Unlike our normal mob at Wigram the mob at Papamoa was much larger, more vocal and openly critical when a sailor decided on a route that others were not taking. It would start with, “there’s no way that’s going to work” to “ok that’s not looking so bad” to “look at that” as the criticised sailor pulled out a few metres advantage and sometimes lead the race. The watching mob were keen to gain any advantage for their next race and wind shifts were watched with interest as it often led to a different course being sailed between marks.
During races it was possible to make gains through the twisty course being sailed, likewise it was easy to lose ground as well. There were frequent flat spots as the wind died away and luck often played a part between being stranded or having enough speed to push through to the next windy area. The start/finish line was across the track in a direction requiring nearly up wind or downwind starts depending on the direction of race. While most of my starts were not that good, dialling up near to right angles to the line meant there were a lot of very good starts made. On the second day several additional markers were added into the circuit and it was easy to miss the start line or a particular mark. During the first day there was a very tricky area near the centre of the circuit. Karts were traveling through the same space from both directions and sometimes at right angles as well. As well the sun was getting low and causing vision issues. As you can imagine there was some carnage.
Michael Denton clashed with Auckland member Bruce Hales, result, Bruce split a rear axle, his rear wheel took on a life of its own, traveling around the circuit till exhaustion set in and it parked up on the grass. An even bigger prang occurred when Barry Cole and Neil Forrester, both Auckland members, made contact at speed.Barry ended up with a severely bent rear axle and Neil lost his front wheel and fork which was ripped off. Worse for him it was a big fork and they are more expensive. In the same race Dee McCrea was knocked onto the grass and lost a few places. Sarah Tootill, a young lady from Auckland who is a really good sailor decided to pass on the outside with insufficient room and ended up being jammed on a pile of tyres placed over a fence post at the track entrance. Someone else hit the same tyres head on but in neither case was there any visible damage.
The most impressive incident occurred when Davie Norris got out of control. From my vantage position on the hill I could hear a sail rattling away as they do at times. This usually causes the front end to lose traction and the Kart doesn’t turn as it should. In Davie’s case he had on a ton of speed, shot straight ahead past the fore mentioned fence post but on the entrance road side and headed up the hill between two laid down Karts and the timing trailer, and where a couple of spectators were standing seconds before! When it looked like he would plough through the wall of a tent on the top of the hill he spun around and headed back downhill narrowly missing a parked car. With much of his excess speed now expended, someone politely held the trackside rope down by standing on it and Davie was back on the track and away. Unfortunately all this action meant that Davie had bypassed the start/finish line and as he didn’t sail back over the line he was disqualified. There were a couple of exits off the track and one of them was over a hill with a ditch and a few small trees on the other side. There was a rumble from the mob when they noticed someone with the wind behind their sail which was stuck in a tree The Kart was on the verge of slipping into the ditch and it took several bystanders to extract Kart and sailor.
Day one finished on a high note with no further rain and a clear sky. Sunday morning dawned with wind and no rain and the team were at Papamoa by 8 am ready to prepare gear. 5.5 M sails were required as the wind was on the light side with the odd gust. The first change, it may have actually been implemented near the end of day one, was to remove the head on traffic by altering the course slightly and later a rope was placed across a section in the centre of the track to prevent further head on traffic. The wind was very light at times and the unfortunate sailors ended up in a dead patch and were forced to wheel a short distance to pick up the wind again. Our chief weather person, one Mitchell Denton, predicted an approaching storm, due to hit about midday and he wasn’t far wrong. By midday there was a very black front not far off and most sailors had donned their wet weather gear. Then it hit, just a few spots to start with, then a rise in wind force and a downpour. I was in the division on the track and although there was thunder, I never heard anything above the rain. Lacking any decent vision I had to take my specs off and drop them onto the floor pan. By race finish we were soaked as was the next division lined up on the dummy grid. For those who have never sailed in heavy rain a 5.5M sail traps a lot of rain and gravity dictates that it will move downwards in a stream ending up on the sailor seated below. So all those on the dummy grid were as wet as the division that had just come off the track. By this time the wind had dropped away and the race committee made the decision to make ours the last race.
Performance – Light;
1st – Sarah Tootill, Auckland. Sarah is the young lady who a few years back, while sailing at a Papamoa event, decided to take a short cut over one of the island hills in the centre of the track, and at speed. The Kart took off, landed heavily and she didn’t gain any ground but it was a gutsy move. At this event she sailed with a lot of skill and once she got out front was unstoppable. With only one finish worse than 3rd place, a well-deserved win. She wasn’t scared to try a different way to the next mark either.
2nd – Debs Davidson, Bay. Debs sailed well and kept Sarah honest, as they say. The points difference was very small and she had an excellent chance of winning this division. Debs has sailed at Wigram a few years back and I am hopeful that she will enter this year’s SIO.
3rd – Paul Thomas, Manawatu. I don’t know Paul very well but it’s really good to see members of clubs other than Auckland or Canterbury doing well and this was a good meeting for him, only 9 point behind the winner and his race drop was a 6th place. Well sailed Paul.
Performance – Middle;
1st – Barry Cole, Auckland. With Barry as a first name you would expect brilliance and he didn’t disappoint. When your dropped race is a 2nd place there is not much to improve on and it was a very good result for him. For those who haven’t seen Barry sailing, his 5.5 M sail is not the latest model, no additional short battens and a taped up rip. No worry it delivers power and the only time he was slowed down was when he was involved in a smash and was redress for that as he was a lap ahead.
2nd – Dee McCrea, Canterbury. Well what can I say. Shear brilliance. I noted a few weeks back that Dee was sailing fast at Wigram and it was the same at this event. Good preparation, keeping clear of trouble and smooth sailing kept Dee in contact with the leader and while she accrued a few additional points it was a great effort and a well-deserved result. Well done Dee. On a slightly scarier note, according to husband Pete it’s the dedicated preparation that he applies to Dee’s kart that gives her an edge on the competition!!. Really??
3rd – Dylan Mckinlay, Bay. Dylan is a young chap who I had never seen prior to this event and I believe he works for Blokart Int. I guess he gets plenty of sailing at the track and he certainly has potential. A really good effort from one new to national events and he can only get better. Well done Dylan.
Performance – Heavy;
1st – Michael Denton, Canterbury. Sailing two classes takes a big effort but Michael showed that it can be done and he was on track from race one. He only finished worse than 3rd place in two races and there were more than a few very experienced sailors in this class. An excellent effort Michael and well deserved.
2nd – Davie Norris, Canterbury. Another excellent result and Davie had the pressure applied to Michael at all times . Unfortunately for Davie his excursion off the track and around the start line via the back of the timing trailer is not the best way forward and as well he leaned a valuable lesson that we should all note. Davie had a couple of really nice tyres. He used them at Wigram and then for quite some time practicing on Saturday morning. By the start of race two he had noted that they were without tread but thought they were good to go. Not so, with race two underway and at high speed around the pits corner, the mob were on their toes when one tyre called it a day and with a huge bang blew a 50 mm section out of tyre and tube. With the level of effort Davie applies to his gear it is extremely unlikely that this will happen again. He isn’t alone, gear failure often occurs and usually with the same result, a wasted race and maximum points.
3rd – Ross Ludwig, Bay. I can’t comment much on Ross but he did achieve some very good finishes and kept Alex Stol behind him and that’s no easy task. 3rd is a good result for Ross, well done.
Performance – Super Heavy;
1st – John Marshall, Hawkes Bay. I don’t know John very well but I have seen him sail fast at a previous event. The top six in this division were all within 12 points and the sailing was close. John sailed well enough to stay at the front of the pack, an excellent achievement for him and his club, well done.
2nd – Colin Davidson, Bay. Although Colin achieved more 1st placings than John consistency failed him in just two races and he accrued too many points. In fact he was very lucky to hang on to 2nd place but it was still an excellent achievement and a great result for him.
3rd – Wayne Osborne, Auckland. Well there’s one for the records. Wayne is usually way out in front and even when there appears to be no wind he still moves fast. So what happened this weekend? According to those who know more than I do, much of Wayne’s gear has not yet returned from the worlds and he needed to cobble together anything he could lay his hands on. On that basis his was a major achievement, to manage 3rd place on borrowed gear is a great result and probably that can be put down to Wayne’s determination to make the best from whatever he has available. Well done Wayne, a great result.
With only five competitors in total and a wide range of weights the rules dictate that there should be a Light and a Heavy division. As well the reduced numbers mean there will be a reduced number of trophies awarded. At this event the Canterbury competitors were fortunate that Ray Kelly was willing to enter two classes and Kayla Heron willing to step up from Cruiser where she was the only entrant.
1st – Amanda Norris, Canterbury. Always a fast sailor Amanda pulled out all the stops at this event and really got going. She also achieved some brilliant starts, right on the mark with not an inch to spare. A really great effort and well deserved result.
2nd – Mitchell Denton, Canterbury. Another top Canterbury Production sailor, Mitchell wasn’t as quick as he can be and took a while to settle down. Never the less he still sailed very well with good results.
3rd – Kayla Heron, Auckland. I don’t know Kayla but judging by the fact that she entered as Cruiser and was reasonably slow I would guess that she is a recent member of the Auckland club. It was noticeable that by the end of the second day she was improving and achieving higher speeds. She even came home ahead of Mitchell in one race and that’s got to be good. So well done Kayla. You entered, up classed, finished every race and that’s a great start to competition racing.
1st – Michael Denton, Canterbury. Although it took a while to get his speed up when the results are split into Light/Heavy Michael was only beaten by Ray Kelly in one race. A great result for Michael. However the actual racing is not reflected in the results because the five were racing as one class on the track and Michael also contended with Amanda causing him strife and leading races, the same for Mitchell and occasionally, Ray. Unfortunately I don’t have the original provisional race by race results so am unable to be more precise.
2nd – Ray Kelly, Auckland. Ray has sailed for a long time and always provides good opposition. At this event he was using an old production Kart and like Michael sailed in two classes. A good result for Ray.