Better late than never! the 2015/16 South Island Sunburst Champs were held over the weekend of 20th and 21st February at the Waimakariri Sailing & Power Boat Club on the lower reaches of the Waimakariri River in Christchurch.
With 14 boats representing 6 clubs, and two entrants making their way up from Dunedin, a good representation of the class was present to race for the championship.
Within the confines of the river, racing is usually very close and hard fought, and so it was on Saturday, with the river still receding from high rainfall, and with light winds, tactical sailing by taking clever advantage of the current paid off.
Saturdays 3 races saw 3 different winners, Matt & Emmeline Neale taking a "lights to flag" win in the first race on
Sunbird, ahead of Murray & Heather Walls on Fun in 2nd, Peter Nees and Peter Wood on Alfresco chasing hard in 3rd.
Race 2 saw the first two places swap, with Fun holding out Sunbird, the other Dunedin boat, Roy Roker and Jim Godfrey on Beverly Ailsa taking 3rd.
Rhys O'Cain & Sebastian Belioux-Barpoza on Eagle picked up the third race with a comfortable win over Alfresco, Mike and Jeanette James on Soothsayer sailing well into 3rd place.
At the end of Day 1, Murray and Heather Walls held the lead, 3 points clear of Matt & Emmeline Neale, with Peter Nees and Peter Wood in 3rd, just 2 points back.
Sunday saw the breeze in the high teens, gusting low 20's, and in these conditions the Dunedin boats came home strongly, with Roy Roker and Jim Godfrey on Beverly Ailsa taking Race 4 ahead of the ever-present Sunbird in 2nd, with Alfresco in 3rd.
Race 5 again saw the usual suspects battling for the lead, Sunbird defending a narrow lead for the win, followed 7 seconds later by Alfresco, who were revelling the breeze. Fun picked up 3rd, recovering well from their DNF in the previous race (spinnaker trouble).
Race 6 looked to be going to Alfresco, before a slick pass under spinnaker right before the bottom mark on lap 2 (of 3) saw the Neale's on Sunbird slip through and extend around the last lap for another win and the overall championship.
Racing throughout the fleet was incredibly close (as is usual on the river, even more so for the Sunbursts!), and kept the race committee on their toes, especially as the Firebugs were sailing their South Islands on the same course, along with some Opti's, P's, Starlings, a couple of Zephyrs and a classic Moth for good measure!
Alfresco picked up a well-deserved the handicap win, with Fun taking the trophy for Best-Presented Boat & Crew.
Full results below;
1st 1668 Sunbird (M. & E. Neale) MPYC 7pts
2nd 1815 Alfresco (P. Nees & P. Wood) VYC 12pts
3rd 1632 Fun (M. & H. Walls) WSPBC 15pts
4th 1687 Beverly Ailsa (R. Roker & J. Godfrey) MBBC 19pts
5th 1816 Tecary (C. Tomlinson & J. Palleson) PPYC 22pts
6th 1576 Soothsayer (M. & J. James) WSPBC 26pts
7th 1525 Ripper (R. Dawson & K. Matson) WSPBC 30pts
8th 1059 Solar Flair (P. & C. Shanks) WSPBC 42pts
9th 1711 Uinme (A. & C. Barrett) PPYC 43pts
10th 1728 Eagle (R. O'Cain & S. Belioux-Barpoza) PPYC 46pts
11th 1603 Sunburnt (D. O'Sulliven & L. MacKay) PPYC 51pts
12th 591 Viking (A. McKerchar & J. Stevens) WSPBC 59pts
13th 1734 Muskateer (L. & C. Edwards) NPCL 64pts
14th 1613 Morpheus (K. O'Brien) WSPBC 65pts