08 Feb 2017

2017 Masters Games Review

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By Barry Emms, Edited by Nick Murray. 

2017 Master Games Results

Video by Michael Denton

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyQdormvsfY’]

2017 Masters Games, 4th-5th Feb

The Masters games is based in Wanganui and held every two years. The Manawatu host this event as they are based in the right area, this year we were fortunate to be sailing at the number one Blokart venue, Ohakea Air Force base. We used a portion of one runway and a slip road and even that amount of seal is awesome.

The event was very well represented with excellent support from every New Zealand club. Manawatu member Gary Clarke liaises with the Airforce and has decided that it would be good idea to become a policeman (how could he do this to us?). Leaving the Air Force may end their clubs ability to access the venue for future events, a sad day indeed.

Attached is a Ohakea Course Sketch (pdf), early on Saturday we just used the markers one, two and three but as the wind came up we started using the narrow slip road as well. The corner marked Z was rough and in the direction we were sailing sloped away as well making high speed cornering a bit hair-raising. A few couldn’t handle the corner and ended up in the grass on the far side or bumping along in the gutter at the edge of the seal.

As he tends to do the Race Officer Terry Helm tried to add variety into the circuit hence the cones marked with an X. As wind speed increased he also instigated the grass short cut as an alternative, the rough corner was scaring the pants off many. The short cut was really bumpy and to regain the seal one needed to pass through a stone ridden gutter first. I found it was best to turn slightly on the grass and drive through the gutter on an angle. Sailors needed to have a heap of speed on to use the grass otherwise they were slower than those who stayed on the seal.

On Saturday most started on 5.5 M sails and as the wind built dropped down to 4 M then to 3 M. Barry Emms’ maximum speed Production rigged was 63.5 km/h. Terry in Performance managed 71.7 km/h and he covered 54 K’s during the day.

Masters games entrants compete on age rather than weight and it was not unusual to hear sailors talking about how enjoyable it was to sail against others who they would normally never meet on the track. Because some age groups were small several were combined, this to produce larger fields and complete more races during the event.

As there were only three Production entries they sailed with the 55 and 65 plus groups. One group started on a two minute dial up and the second group started using a three or four minute dial up depending on track layout. During dial up the two minute sailors could cross the line but the second group needed to stay behind the line because the decoder was now in a live state and crossing the line would record before start hits and increase the time keepers work load.

There were a few on course bloopers, sometimes a few would miss the correct turn marker and keep going, in one race the fleet all rounded a mark in the wrong direction and were disqualified. Now and again an individual sailor would miss a marker. So by the end of day one the mob were well worked over and probably relieved that there gear had survived the rough treatment offered up by the grass short cut.

On Saturday night many entrants retired to the Rat Hole where you can get a large top class meal that’s not over the top for price, then it was back to our motel for a bit of maintenance and a good sleep. Sunday morning we were trackside at eight am to a light wind that gradually built enough to run a 4 M sail. Unfortunately it wouldn’t stick around long enough to get a race in. We did use the slip road but anyone trying the short cut would be dreaming. As an example Barry Emms’ maximum speed for the day was 42.4 km/h and distance covered 27.81 k.

Over the two days sailing, on course incidents were minimal and that is always a relief. However off the track there were plenty of incidents. Several rear wheels let go, one was of particular interest, the sailor reckoned that he was running about 45 PSI and there were minimal stress witness marks on the broken surface. What was showing were at least six holes in the exposed casting, each a bit smaller than a borer hole? I have never seen a broken wheel like this before.

On Saturday Terry returned to the pits complaining of a lack of speed. Cause, his big foot was using a wheel fitted with a Deestone tyre and it was rubbing on the fork. A Deli replacement solved the issue.  Paul Beckett, (the one we all rush to about anything Blokart) had his own issue with a pulley whip problem. The short rope locating the pulley to the whip frayed through. The pulley had been adjusted slightly ending up with a sharp edge which nibbled away at the rope. Barry Cole split a fibreglass axle and Michael Denton lost his sheet as he crossed the finish line, this due to the boom knot undoing. There were a few capsizes, at least one during dial up. The timing team also had an issue, during a race a rouge transponder starting triggering every few seconds. This can happen when someone carries a transponder near the timing loop; in this case a spare was positioned too close to the decoder.

As Sunday progressed quite a few tried dropping down to a 4 M sail, but some came unstuck when the wind dropped away during their race. Not so Paul Beckett, in one race his 4 M sail worked really well and he built up a good lead, maintaining it to the end.

As to actually sailing the course I can only comment on my own experience. My first time out on the track (race one) and with good speed downwind  for the gybe turn at the end of the runway trouble struck. Having rounded the first mark and rapidly closing on the second I realised that the marker was much closer to the grass than I had anticipated and ended up in the grass. Naturally the other two Production competitors sailed past. In our second race, approaching the same first mark a gust of wind spun me around; fortunately I managed to remain on three wheels, sail backwards and get going again. Too late the competition passed me again.

The rest of my races were fine, however I did learn a very important lesson that I would like to pass on. On Sunday with the wind up and down I finally decided to change down to a 4 M sail, I wasn’t going that quick on my 5.5 M anyway. As our race got underway the wind dropped away and the fleet sailed up the runway and left me way behind. At that point I decided that my race was over and if the race wasn’t finished when my first lap was completed I would just circle around then cross the finish line when the flag came out.

However when I finally got going and around to the slip road I had gathered some  speed and as I neared the runway I realised that the fleet ahead had nearly come to a standstill and I was rapidly catching up. The result being that I cruised past most of the fleet and managed to hold on and be near the front when we crossed the finish line. The lesson, one should always remember, is that a race is not over until it’s actually finished and it’s wise to keep making the best possible effort at all times, regardless of one’s position.

As there were only three Production entries and Louise Meltzer doesn’t enjoy sailing in strong winds Robert Deighton was my main competition and all weekend he gave me nothing but grief, he was like a dog with a bone. As I went about changing a sail he came across to see what I was up to and in the small talk mentioned that when he changed down to a 4 M sail he just removed his top mast section slipping the sail sock over the number two section. Now for Production this is illegal and in a friendly manner I pointed this out, I also indicated that I wouldn’t be protesting. Later it came to light that Robert, being the true and honest competitor that he is decided to DSQ himself from a number of Saturdays races.

Looking at the way he was sailing over the weekend it is quite likely that this action cost him a gold medal. The only times I really felt I had him under my thumb was when I sailed on a 4 or 3 M sail. Our best race of the weekend, from my point of view, was the final race on Sunday. Louise Meltzer took the lead, Robert was putting pressure on in second place and I followed behind in 3rd. On our last lap as we came off the slip road and onto the runway both Louise and Robert tacked to make the runway mark. I felt there was sufficient wind to avoid at least one tack and kept sailing straight ahead. The result was that using my shorter route I passed Robert and nearly caught Louise. It was then just a matter of holding on up the runway to the finish line and this was achieved with Louise taking out a worthy 1st place and  Robert breathing done my neck.   We were soon packed up and ready for the medals.

50+; 1st place gold medal winner Barry Cole with 21 points. Disqualified for missing a mark in the first race and coming in 8th in another, the rest were all 1st placings and as we have come to expect Barry sailed like a champion that he is.  In 2nd place Michael Denton with 25 points. In a way his overall ability to finish at the front end (worst finish 4th) was superior. In this age group to win required a bunch of 1st placings and Barry delivered.

55+; With 34 points David Heilbron just sneaked in to take a well-deserved 1st place and the gold medal. In 2nd place Terry Helm on 35 points (I didn’t realise that he is still just a youngster) Like Michael Denton he was at the front end in all races. If Terry hadn’t insisted on using his big foot as a speed limiter the results might have been different but that’s history now.

60+; On 27 points and taking out 1st place, gold medal winner Wayne Osborne. As we have come to expect Wayne sailed well all weekend only slowing down in the last race with a 7th placing. In 2nd place Peter McCrea excelled, finishing on 41 points. This was a very good result for Peter in a strong field. His undoing was being unable to gain enough 1st and, 2nd placings. You can blame Alex Stol and Paul Beckett for that.

75+; There were not many sailors in this age group and Rudolph Meltzer needed to keep the pressure on to secure a well-deserved 1st place and the gold medal with 20 points. Colin Cook was a real threat finishing in 2nd place with 22 points.

Production; this class has been mentioned earlier. If Robert Deighton hadn’t DQed himself the results would have been different. On his 5.5 M sail he is very quick and I look forward to sailing against him again one day without any DQs. Louise Meltzer sailed with skill over the two days. Louise doesn’t like strong wind and I suspect that she pulled out of two races on the first day when the wind was really pumping.

The New Zealand Masters Games CEO Kathy Cunningham was on hand to award the medals and this was soon underway. Official and unofficial photos were then taken with the winner standing on a bale of straw. Unfortunately Peter McCrae had disappeared before we were able to assemble for a Canterbury medal photo.   Next an emu parade to check that no Blokart bits had been left on the runway, there to be ingested by a jet engine. We were also on the lookout for a stray pod upper section which had taken off across the grass when the wind came up Saturday. It was found near the fence line.

Then it was off to the motels for a shower and scrub up for the official meal. This year it was held at the local hall, walking distance from the Manawatu track and our motels. The Manawatu club really put an effort in, all the tables were set with a kind of floral arrangement, the Manawatu council mayor Helen Worboys was on hand to enjoy a meal, give a speech and generally support the Manawatu club. I believe the local council are quite enthusiastic about the Manawatu blokart club and give them as much support as they can.

On behalf of team Canterbury our thanks to the Manawatu club for selecting a top venue, a windy weekend and a well organised event.

Barry Emms

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