IRB Nationals Ohope Beach
Whakatane  31/3 - 1/4 2007

Arrived at beach to find a large tent and lots of flags but no sign of boats or lifesavers.  The club house was shut and there was nothing to say where the event was.  We coincidentally arrived at the same time as an acquaintance from Auckland who had come down to take photos.  We both got on our phones to try and find out the location but to no avail.  We decided that we would have a final try at the club house and found a note on the floor saying because of the conditions they had moved to Ohiwi Point in the harbour.

What a delightful spot.  No surf, lots of sun with  a strong current running across the arena to test the swimmers.  There were 72 races to get through that day which was the reason for moving as the because of the surf conditions back at the beach they would have had to put the bouys so far out and it would take far too long to run the races and would ruin the schedule.  It really was quick fire racing but in the tube race it was particularly difficult for the girl teams swimming against the current.

At the end of the day we retuned to Ohope for the competitors to clean their boats and engines before the prize giving for those events which had been concluded.  What an awesome sight = 35+ boats piled up on top of each other.  This was the largest or second largest Nationals ever with 30 clubs and 96 teams.

Sunday dawned fine and as expected the evet returned to Ohope Beach.  The 2-2.5M Surf was still very messy with double wave breaks common on an outgoing tide but the competitors were glad to get back to competing in surf.  Racing in the semis and finals was so close and by the lunch break there was little between the clubs in the various divisions.

Of particular interest to us was the races in the Premier division for the top crew - competing for the Arancia Trophy.  Would it be Fitzroy, Wainui, East End or perhaps St Clair.  By now the tide was coming in and the distance to the bouys was longer.  It was nail biting stuff not only in this division but in the Under 21s and Senior Divisions.  Right up until the end no one was sure of who would win the major trophies. 

We were pleased to learn that the boat repaired by John the previous evening gave no problems?  

Why should you Never attempt  to repair a tear punctured on a boat  on the beach when the sun has gone down. 

The coatings of glue on the patch area attract miosture when the glues thinners evaporisates causing a frosting effect  and no bonding strength

Prize giving had just began when we had the only rain of the day but it didnt last long.  This year there was a new trophy donated by Russell and Marianne Sager (Russell is the starter and Marianne does the results) for the Open Teams race.  The trophy was in the form of a Canon which is rather appropriate.  The Arancia Trophy was won by Andrew Cronin and his crew of East End - well deserved too.  Fitzroy took out the BP trophy for best overall club and St Clair the Arancia South Island Club.  Having presented the cups we were then presented with shirts commemorating the South Island Champs two weeks previously generously donated by Peter Gibbons the organiser of that event.

Thanks to all the officials and the Ohope Club for making this event possible, one of the most exciting and testing events for some years.

Chris Speight