The Javelin Class is mourning their past member Sean Wright, pictured here wiring on Full Frontal at the 2013 South Pacifics in the Bay of Islands. Our thoughts and condolences go to his family, and most of all his partner Bea Ward, who was the flyweight crew on Nice One for several years.
Sean was intensely dedicated and talented, using his last stint in the Class racing one of the top boats while spending long late hours tidying her up and creating a custom trailer for her.
The funeral will take place on Tuesday 1 June 1.30pm at the Kerikeri Baptist Church.
Every year the Javelin class has a fun weekend on the shores of Lake Rotoiti, based at a bach organised by Colin Shanks around the October/November period, and this year the Class decided to incorporate the North Island Championships into this get together. Peter Millar was once more roped in to provide race management. This was also an event in memory of a very talented sailor, Nathan Bax, who recently passed away way before his time. In his youth he won the Starling Class Nationals and he went on to win multiple Javelin National and Sanders Cup competitions. Needless to say, quite a few drinks were imbibed in his memory. It was great to have a visit from Ben, retired Javelin winner, and his lovely wife Denise, Nathan’s parents, who have been part of the class for the last twenty years. Due to the effects of the Covid pandemic, work commitments and recent illness, a small fleet of 4 boats arrived on Friday night for pre-event drinks and a barbeque enhanced with pizza.
With this gathering not finishing for some until 2 am, a late start ensued the next morning under overcast skies with a shifty breeze of 5-10 knots, which helped to blow away a winter’s worth of sofa TV watching cobwebs!! As all contestants were past Javelin Class National and Sanders Cup Champions, exciting racing was expected. All eyes were on the old boys combination of Phil McNeil and Craig Gilberd sailing Phlipnhel, who were getting back into their boat after 18 months’ rest and recuperation. They proved to still be on the pace, winning all six short course races that day, some by only a few seconds. The shifty and gusty winds dictated flexible game plan type racing, and so places swapped continuously, and a good time was had by all. The next 3 boats, Antje Muller and Fi Chatma on OA, Ross and Colin Shanks on Riders on the Storm, and David Brown and Oscar Kirkham on Trailblazer, all had close results, and it was all on for the next day’s sailing, with Antje and Fi a clear second overall.
A huge evening storm, combined with the All Blacks losing to Australia, made for a long night of sorrow drowning, but the next morning conditions were favourable so out the fleet went. A sudden squall just before the first start proved to David Brown that a 62 kg crew was not enough to right Trailblazer after a capsize, and so prudence prevailed and a return to the batch under jib only was called for. Of course, once David had derigged, Murphy’s Law prevailed and the weather gods provided a lovely 10-15 knot breeze, but c’est la vie!! A very short start-line made for well contested starts, with Antje and Fi winning most of them, making the heavier crews work hard to overcome the poor starts. But the sheer horsepower of the 100kg forward hands on Phil and Ross’s boats closed the gaps, and with Ross proving to be faster upwind and Phil being quicker downwind, and Antje nipping in during the lighter patches, finishes were very close at times. Although Phil and Craig won three of the day’s four races, it could have easily been a lot closer on the score sheet!! So after all pitched in to pack up the boats, clean up the bach and hold a small prizegiving for the North Island Champs, a few words were said in memory of Nathan and to thank the event host, Colin and the race organiser, Peter for their efforts. We all went on our way, another unforgettable Lake Rotoiti gathering completed and plans for next year’s event already underway. So overall it was Phil and Craig first, Antje and Fi second, Ross and Colin third and David and Oscar fourth.
With great sadness we bid farewell to Nathan Bax who left us far too soon on Wednesday. A talented sailor from a young age, Nathan was successful in the Starling and 12ft Skiffs before he won the Javelin Skiff Nationals three times and the prestigious Sanders Cup twice together with his father Ben Bax during his time in the Class from 1997 to 2004. In 2010, both father and son contested the Sanders Cup in New Plymouth as skippers, and Nathan won it off Ben in one of the epic tussles between the pair. In recent years, Nathan has focussed on his business and family. A strong-willed fighter to the last, he chose his own way of dealing with his liver cancer. A memorial for Nathan will be held on Wednesday 28 October 1.30pm at St Paul’s Church Crn Mulgan St & Main Highway in Katikati. The Javelin Skiff Class is dedicating the Rotoiti Regatta on 7-8 November to his memory. Nathan has taken off beyond the sunset. Our thoughts are with his parents and family.