Real Deal puts on a winning show

Marlborough won yet another national sporting title at the weekend when the Matt Kerr-skippered Real Deal took out the Division B PHRF keelboat crown at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club Regatta in Wellington.

With the assistance of crew members Glen Robertson, Glen Vallender, Jerry Hay, Jo Ivory and Craig Smith, Kerr piloted the Elliott 770 to three race wins and three seconds and claimed division line honours in eight of the nine races held from Friday to Sunday.

Real Deal came close in the Division B club handicap title, pipped into third place by two points after the ninth and final race.

PHRF (Performance Handicapping Racing Fleet) is a national handicapping system for keelboats designed to facilitate open and fair competition.

Twenty boats were initially entered in Real Deal's division, but winds of up to 35 knots on Friday and up to 25 knots on Saturday caused several boats to pull out mid-regatta and on Sunday just 13 boats remained. Conditions were lighter that day, with winds up to 18 knots, and although that made it tougher for Kerr to hold on to his advantage, Real Deal still ended up triumphing by a clear 11 points over the nearest rival.

Kerr, who has a half share in the boat, was delighted to win his first national title, "especially in Wellington in such testing conditions".

He said Real Deal was one of the fastest downwind boats over all three days of the regatta, including the much bigger and more expensive Division A vessels.

The core of the crew have been together for six years and all six current crew are Waikawa Boating Club (WBC) members, with Smith, who lives in Auckland, the only one not based full-time in Marlborough.

Another WBC boat, the Clive Ballett-skippered Slingshot came into its own on the last day of the regatta, collecting two first place finishes on club handicap.

Kerr said he would love to see more Waikawa boats entered in the Port Nicholson Regatta next year.

The Marlborough Express