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Tight racing for the Association Cup

by John Curnow on 14 Apr 2013
The TP52s and Scarlet Runner at the start of Race Two - Association Cup Alex McKinnon © http://www.alexmckinnonphotography.com
Light, read virtually non-existent, winds from the Western quadrant greeted the teams from Port Phillip’s yacht clubs for the 2013 Association Cup. So therefore at the designated 1100hrs start time, it was not a surprise to see the Answering Pennant being hoisted. Both the now, de rigueur, windward leeward course and the fantastic Olympic style of racetrack were on offer to the Principal Race Officer, David LeRoy.

Staged in Melbourne for around 100 years now in various formats, the winning club gets to take home not only the prestige of being the Champion of the Bay, but the Challenge Trophy, as well. Overall, the best boat from each club was chosen to contest and back in the day, some like the beautiful 8m, Frances, were even specifically built for the challenge.

Today, it has grown from just one vessel selected from each club to several. One thing that has not changed is that it is the best crews and boats, with the aspect of team participation making it feel a little like the Admiral’s Cup.
The current concept allows for three vessels in both IRC and the Australian Measurement System (AMS) to be selected. In IRC, the teams came from Sandringham Yacht Club, the Royal Brighton YC, the Royal YC of Victoria and Royal Melbourne YS. Hobsons Bay put three boats in to the AMS division to make it five clubs competing for that measurement category’s Challenge Trophy.


Three races was the order of the day, with Sunday being selected to allow for crews to compete in their normal racing at their home clubs. The IRC fleet was first to get away, even if it was a tad late at 1155hrs. On an axis of 160 degrees and at just 1.3nm, it was evident that the four big 52-footers would dispose of that distance somewhat summarily, despite the soft conditions that were on display just off Williamstown beach. Calm 2 proved that point with demonstrable clarity as the flags on the Committee Boat began to flutter awake from their prolonged droop.

There was a distinct boat end bias and so this was the favoured end for the great stacking of the rack. Some were there early, with Audacious being the main culprit who was clearly over before the gun fired and Calm must have had her bowsprit tantalisingly close to scratching the chin of the start line. Scarlet Runner at the pin end was the one to look the best of it all and stepped away under power. Calm 2 would get a wiggle on shortly after the gun and up at the boat end, Shogun V was also setting about making progress to the top mark where a steady six knots was being observed, which was in stark comparison to the four at best at the bottom.

The Adams 10, Jungle Juice would be the last over the line, where as her two Sisterships, Top Gun and Salamander III were already dragging off much bigger craft, like the Beneteau 45, Reverie. Scarlet Runner and Calm 2 headed out to the container vessel moored on the Eastern edge of the course, whilst Shogun V went pioneering out West. Knocks were evident, especially on the left hand side and depending on when you looked, you could think very different things about the relative proximities they had to the top mark.

At the AMS start, the biggest craft there was the Bakewell-White penned, Jazz Player, who would go on to record a Line Honours victory, which equated to seventh on corrected time. Also there were more Adams 10s like the current Audi IRC Australian Champion, Class C, Executive Decision and Serious Yahoo. Others amongst this fleet were Robert Hick’s small but oh-so-quick Toecutter and other serial placegetters like Wind Speed and Wavelength.


A far less aggressive start with conservative plans being witnessed seemed to be the scenario. A few had congregated at the pin end as 8 knots from 165 degrees was being radioed in from the top mark at the same time. It looked like a lot were going to be late and slow as Toecutter and Executive Decision squeezed in to the pin end and up at the boat end, you had Ellipse also seeming to be pushed out the front of the line. The little S80 Outlaw was in great position down at the pin end, but her small sail area would see her ducking under the others pretty quickly.

It was clear that Ellipse had been way too far in front and she managed to get around and back very smartly, where as Wavelength and Serious Yahoo, who were also called OCS would be 1.5 min late getting going after returning.
Out in the IRC fleet, Shogun V might have had pace, but it was from way out wide and just not enough to make a dent. It was to be Calm 2’s day, with Scarlet Runner doing well and not slow as she marched up to the top. At the cross with Shogun V, she lee bowed them and they were forced to go back out once more.


It was clear that the left side was better than the right as Calm 2 went around in front of Scarlet Runner, then Shogun and Calm making up some ground in a close fourth. Shogun went the gybe early and Calm followed suit. It may have been 10 knots from 165 at the top, but not the bottom, where it was a very cold 8.

The left hand gate was favoured by all at the bottom and good on Shogun for continuing to try things, as they went back out to sea once more. Calm had the same tactics book and followed Shogun West. The Sydney 38, Chutzpah38, was just in front of Audacious as Shogun went back in to the middle of the course. Audacious gets another mention for being one of the few to use the right hand gate at the bottom. Wind Speed and Swordfish Trombone did well in the cool breeze to be there or thereabouts.


Calm 2 took the first IRC race and Shogun got over the top of Scarlet Runner in the line honours battle. Jazz won AMS and caught up a good amount of time on the Sydney 38s who started five minutes ahead of them. 'We are happy with the outcome, but not our best effort on the first work. Looking forward to seeing if we can turn it into something meaningful for our team', was how Amanda Wakeham on board Jazz Player saw it.

Race Two’s axis was 155 degrees at 1.4nm with a 10 knot breeze. The 52s played at the pin end, with a slight bias off to the left, which is why they were down there. Top Gun was the winner at the boat end, but Calm was the one setting a blinding pace at the pin end and led the 52s away. In the bunch in the middle were Jake Jungle Juice all squeezed in. Heading up the first work Shogun came back out with Calm 2, lee bowed Scarlet Runner and had to duck Calm, so a bit of catch up was happening.

The AMS fleet were all luffing up for their start, with vessels like Under Capricorn in a good spot and Jazz Player holding sway at the pin end. Where’s Wal? and Toecutter were very well placed at the pin, but you did notice that all were quite late with the left being very heavily favoured by all.

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There was looking like a 10-degree shift to the left was going to settle in, with 138 to 145 showing for those at the top. Race Management was considering 320 as the reciprocal, but Calm 2 got to top before it could happen. 140 did get set for the next work and then a building breeze and some more OCS saw the day out. Boats like Wind Speed and Swordfish Trombone continued their good form. Others fluctuated a little like Executive Decision and Wavelength, with some not quite firing like the others, such as Jake, Jungle Juice, Archimedes and The Bookmaker.


David LeRoy said of the day, 'It was good sailing once the breeze came in and glad we waited for it to settle at 160 degrees, even thought it flicked to 140 at one stage, for which we moved the course during the second work of the second race. We utilised Course One with two works and runs, as it suited the conditions better. Predominantly we had seven knots out there and it made a real 13 at the end.'

'Being On Course Side was a bit of a feature with both starts offering observers the chance to pick out the sail numbers. Scarlet Runner put their bowsprit over with just seconds to go before the last race started and that really hurt them in the results tally.'

'The standard of sailing was really good and this was evident from the competitiveness displayed at the starts. Seconds were involved in the final tallies, rather than minutes. The way the system works is that your best two boats in each category get aggregated, so that first and fourth get one point, where as second and third, also a total of five points, ends up earning you two points to account for and reward the win', said LeRoy.

As it turns out, it was a tie on six points at the end of the second race for RYCV and SYC. Each had won one IRC and one AMS of the two completed races. As a teams event, first and fourth end up beating second and third, so a spilt in your vessels ratings does tend to work for you. Royals (RYCV) got hoe to take both categories in Race Three, so won on eight points from SYC in second on 10 and RBYC in third with 14 points.


A Fourth, then Third and ultimately Second place was the order of proceedings on the day for SYC’s Wind Speed. Les Browne’s Sydney 36CR are always in there fighting and pop up with great alacrity on many a scoreboard. Geoff Onions commented, 'Les is pretty chuffed and we seemed to get better as the breeze built. Pity SYC did not win, as it was certainly close racing and we tried hard. We had no mistakes on board and our crew work was just wonderful to be a part of. In a regatta like this you are up against the best around, so we are certainly happy to have put in a strong show. All happy here.'


Max Peters of Top Gun said, 'Delighted to win both Race One and Two in IRC today. Really happy to do it and also put the points on the board for the RYCV team. Could not have done it without the eighth wonder of the world, the late Joe Adams’ fantastic Adams 10. Our average age is 62 years and we thoroughly enjoyed it out there.'

Peter Jackson from Stitched Up commented of their win in Race Two, 'Thanks to the crew and to Royals for a good course. Shame our performance was not repeated, which may have helped SYC get to win the Association Cup.'
RYCV Club Captain, David Ellis said, 'A big thank you our owners and crews who believe in the event and do training, putting their vessels out the water so well prepared. It really is great to have all the clubs participating actively and we will certainly look at ways to get the Royal Geelong Yacht Club and Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron involved again for next year and beyond.'


'The competiveness displayed today proves that this event is both well supported and important to contest. The close nature of the racing allows for crews to really excel and work against specific competition, something may not get to do all that often.'

The Association Cup is run by the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, who have been winners for quite a few seasons now. Selection of vessels to match the huge variance of conditions the area is famous for and also across a wide rating range, has been a key part of that equation.
Full results available at http://www.rycv.asn.au/results/index.asp?group=assoc

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