Gifford takes up challenge for QCYC
Two-time defending national champion Leonard Takahshi-Fry showed his class to take out the optimist open fleet title at the Interislander Optimist Challenge in Picton at the weekend.
The 2011 and 2012 national champion from the Murray's Bay Sailing Club in Auckland gave the 90-strong fleet, who raced from Friday to Sunday, a masterclass in consistency in the annual event hosted by the Queen Charlotte Yacht Club (QCYC).
Takahshi-Fry only finished outside the top 10 in one of the 10 races and notched up three wins, two seconds and two thirds as he sailed to top honours.
Murray's Bay completed a clean-sweep of the podium positions, with Nick Egnot-Johnson second overall and Jackson Keon third.
The Queen Charlotte club's best-placed sailor, Alastair Gifford, was fourth, bagging three top-five finishes, including victory in race nine on Sunday morning.
Hamish Clark was 12th, with a second behind Gifford his best result of the regatta.
On Saturday and Sunday, the optimist green fleet began their competition, as did the sailors competing in the South Island Starling Champs.
The 46-boat optimist green fleet sailed on Picton Harbour, providing close-up viewing for spectators, while the 37-strong starling fleet and 90-boat optimist open fleet made for an impressive sight further out from Picton.
Six races were completed by the optimist green fleeters, with Elliot Bacon, of Worser Bay, winning the last race to take the title by one point from the Kohimarama Yacht Club's Rebecca Morgan.
Bacon's Worser Bay clubmate, Will Wright, was third, with Emily Overend (QCYC) claiming fourth overall, including a win in the third race on Saturday. QCYC competitors Jasper Hopkins (13th), Sam Chaytor-Waddy (14th) and Billie Watson (16th) also did well to place in the top 20.
Meanwhile, the South Island Starling Champs were won by George Gautrey, of Muritai Yacht Club in Wellington, who was victorious once but placed inside the top five in all six races.
Arkady Edmonds, of Auckland's Glendowie Boating Club, was second, with Jeremy Mitchell (Murray's Bay) third.
QCYC competitors Callum Radford (6th) and Henry Gibbs (10th) finished in the top 10 as part of a strong club fleet preparing for the national champs in Picton from April 22-26.
Conditions were initially very cool for the optimist open sailors on Friday morning. However, once the breeze settled, four races were held in quick succession, with only one course change when the wind shifted to an easterly.
Saturday was fine but the breeze took time to settle and the optimist open and starling fleets moved further up Queen Charlotte Sound to meet the easterly conditions.
On Picton Harbour, the optimist green fleet raced in brisker, southerly winds.
On Sunday, conditions were warmer and two races were completed by all three fleets before time was up.
QCYC sailors Interislander Optimist Challenge Optimist open (90 entries): Alastair Gifford 4, Hamish Clark 12, Oliver Cowley 31, Jack Tripe 37, Alice Overend 44, Libby Grigg 58, Jessica Cameron 60, Max Gibbs 63, Iolo Adams 64, Kate Overend 77.
Optimist green (46 entries): Emily Overend 4, Jasper Hopkins 13, Sam Chaytor-Waddy 14, Billie Watson 16, Aaron Townend 21, Bob Marr 24, Ben Turnbull 31, Rosie Buchanan-Brown 39, Lachie Buchanan-Brown 40, Jake Morris 43, Suede Cowley 45.
South Island Starling Champs (37 entries): Callum Radford 6, Henry Gibbs 10, William Gifford 20, Lee Stuart 23, Nicholas Gardiner 26, Seren Adams 28, Kain Greenbank 29, Nico van Beek 33, Christopher Cameron 34, Susie Grigg 35.
The Marlborough Express