With 16 entries from the Far North to the South Island confirmed, the upcoming Elliott 5.9 National Championships in Whitianga are set to be a fierce-as-ever challenge of one design yacht racing. Hosted by the Mercury Bay Boating Club from 20-22 May, the event features a mix of sailors new and well-seasoned, all pushing to knock six time running National Champions on board Rough & Reddy off the top spot.
A number of highly regarded crews have recently entered the class with clear intentions of trying to wrestle the trophy from Craig Satterthwaite and his crew (Routh & Reddy) who have been gatekeepers of the ‘best in NZ’ title since 2015.
North Sails have assembled some of their best one-design sailors including Derek Scott, Ben Costello and Richard Bicknell to sail Retro, while former OK Dinghy World Champion Matt Stechman has joined forces with Sam Edwards and Keith Hogan to sail SMAK. Last year with a different crew on board, SMAK finished on equal points with the eventual National Championship winner, and lost only on the count-back system of breaking a tie.
Slam Dunk, sailed by Class President Stu Clarke with Stu Molloy and Cam Horne are also expected at the front of the fleet, based on their continued improvement in recent seasons and history of the crew having won several championships in the past.
With a number of new owners attending their first Elliott 5.9 Nationals, the rookie title is clearly up for grabs between Ewok, Icebreaker and the recently renamed Reverly (formally Wai Kat a Moo Cow). Also relatively new to the fleet is the young gun crew on Tekno who will fancy their chances in the 40 stone trophy, awarded to the best placed boat with the total crew weight under 40 stone (255kg).
With a growing number of females now competing among the fleet, the class is pleased to welcome back previous owner Carla Bennett, who will be sailing on the Wellington based Bob.
As proven by Zoot Allures 3rd place finish at the recent Rotoiti Traveller Series regatta, consistency through the regatta will be the most important element to work up the leaderboard. The Napier, Nelson and Northland boats will have been watching class stalwart Dave Cochrane’s approach to sailing smart in this one-design fleet, proving that any one of the 16 entrants are in with a title shot for this tightly contested event.
Mercury Bay Boating Club have organised a great onshore program and with a number of supporters also travelling to Whitianga joining the crews. This contest is shaping up to be hotly contested on the water and a friendly social atmosphere off the water.
A full list of previous National Champions can be found online here
While most other sailing events around the upper North Island were called off for the day due to extreme wind and rain on Saturday, the Elliott 5.9’s were commencing their first races of the 2021 Traveller Series on Lake Rotoiti. The 12 competing boats had no option but to quickly find their feet for the season in typical lake sailing conditions that threw challenging shifts and rain squalls into the mix of what is already intensely fought one-design series.
In Saturday’s 8-25kn and Sunday’s much more mild (but equally wet) conditions, the very experienced crew of Craig Satterthwaite, Nathan Williams and Chris Maddock on board R&R were quick to put their ‘1’ on the scoreboard, and went on to win nine of the ten races that were sailed over two days. The rest of the fleet will have a big job to knock R&R off the top at next months’ National Championships, which has won by Satterthwaite for the last six years.
Rounding out the rest of the podium at Lake Rotoiti were equally experienced crews: Stu Clarke, Stu Molloy and Cam Horne on board Slam Dunk in second, with Dave Cochrane, Mike Valliant and local sailor Garth Weinberg on board Zoot Allures only three points behind overall.
Relatively new to the fleet are Dirty Circus and Boat 1 and both showed moments of true potential by pushing the top boats around the course. Dirty Circus finished the regatta on a high note of a 2nd place finish, while Boat 1 opened with their best result of a 3rd place, and the duo wound up on equal points to finish 4th and 5th respectively. Boat 1 was the best placed of the three boats who came across from Napier including Bloodline (6th) and Shock Treatment (9th)
While experience was clearly the winner at this first event of the season, the 5.9 fleet were pleased to welcome three brand new boat owners and crew into the series including Ewok, Wai kat a moo cow, and Icebreaker. Icebreaker was the best placed of the new entrants in a very respectable 8th overall, having made the 6+ hour drive from Opua along with club-mates Frivolous Fish (10th) who also come from the Bay of Islands. A special acknowledgement must also go to the team from Eagle (7th) who made the big trip up from Nelson and plan to keep their boat on the North Island for the remaining 5.9 Traveller Series regattas.
2021 Traveller Series #1 (Rotoiti) Final Points
1st R +R – 9pts
2nd Slam Dunk – 27 pts
3rd Zoot Allures – 30 pts
4th Dirty Circus – 45 pts
5th Boat 1 – 45 pts
6th Bloodline – 50 pts
7th Eagle – 51 pts
8th Icebreaker – 63pts
9th Shock Treatment – 64 pts
10th Frivolous Fish – 87 pts
11th Wai kat a moo cow – 92 pts
12th Ewok – 103pts
Full results can be found online https://elliott59.weebly.com/results.html
The Elliott 5.9 Association thanks Race Officer Paul Davies for making the trip up from Wellington and managing to get five fair races in each day and Tony Pullman for generously donating his time and his boat to run the start line. Also thanks to the Bay of Plenty Trailer Yacht Squadron for hosting Saturday's social Burger Night and Richard Bearda for laying the marks and being the live camera on the water with entertaining commentary. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the footage, check it out here on facebook.
The next regatta of the 2021 Traveller Series includes the Elliott 5.9 National Championships, to be sailed at Whitianga’s Mercury Bay Boating Club from 20-22 May.
Nearly 40 years on from the trailer yacht’s inception, the Elliott 5.9 fleet is preparing for their annual tradition of being towed around New Zealand for a series of sailing regattas: the now famous 5.9 Traveller Series. With the first event of the series due to start on 10th April, celebrated kiwi yacht designer Greg Elliott has revealed his insights to the revolutionary design, and how it started an evolution of high performance sailboats that maintain their relevance today more than ever.
“At 5.9 meters in length, the Elliott 5.9 was designed strictly to meet the requirements of the NZ Trailer Yacht Association’s rules at the time for boats under 6 meters” says Elliott. “In the early 80’s, the trailer yacht scene was extremely active and so many back yards had a boat being built. Trailer yachting was big right around NZ; you’d sleep aboard the boats at regattas, they were real fun family events”.
Elliott explained that he was heavily involved with the class at its beginning, from when he built the first wooden ones in the early 80’s including stints of cruising in his own 5.9 for up to three weeks at a time. However, the Elliott 5.9 was innovative and was designed to push the boundaries of the rules. At times he was cold-shouldered for bringing such a performance angle into the social trailer yachting community.
“We first won the 1983 Trailer Yacht National Championships and went on to win quite a bit over the next years” he continues. “Once we started to make the 5.9’s of fibreglass, the fleet started to expand quite quickly” he continues.
It became a natural progression as the fleet was sizeable enough to race against themselves, that their own ‘one-design’ series was formed: the Elliott 5.9 Traveller Series. There have been only a few minor modifications to the boat since the 1980’s - a change to the mainsheet traveller position and the sealing off of the outboard well. The actual shape of the boat and cabin top has not changed. In fact, the modern fibreglass boats are being made from the mould of an original wooden boat.
Elliott explains his original intentions with the Elliott 5.9: “When it first came out, it was revolutionary for a trailer yacht and we had to spend a few years just trying to comply with things like the stability index. It is a true trailer yacht that was designed to be towed behind a modest car to fun sailing events all over NZ. It was meant to be a really cost effective way to enjoy good yachting and as such it has grown into something that world-class sailors appreciate”.
The Elliott 5.9 is sailed by a crew of three people, and the one-design fleet is regarded as one of the most fiercely competitive in New Zealand, yet genuinely friendly and very social (with thanks to its trailer-yacht roots).
“In a world where the cost of living continues to go up in every respect, having a sailboat capable of this level of competition at this budget point is otherwise unheard of” Elliott explains.
After the 5.9 was established, Greg Elliott went on to design the Elliott 6 as an evolution of the 5.9 which in it’s time, became the Olympic-class keelboat for women’s match racing at the London 2012 Olympics.
“It’s fantastic that the class and owners have brought the 5.9’s as close to one-design as it could be. I’m more than happy, it’s a great little boat” Elliott concludes.
As many other “little boats” are wrapping up their season to hibernate for winter, this not-so-sleepy class is gearing up for its 2021 Traveller Series due to commence at Lake Rotoiti on 10th April.
A schedule of at least five regattas is scheduled for the season including:
The Notice of Race for the season is now available online www.e59.org.nz. Results and pictures can be followed online the NZ Elliott 5.9 Facebook page or Instagram @nz_elliott_5.9_class. Contact Elliott59.Class@gmail.com for more information.
The Elliott 5.9 Class is supported by sponsors including Kitchen Link, Switchpro Electrical, NZ Spars & Rigging and KPMG.