by Di Pearson
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Ocean Pointscore Series fifth race was held yesterday, Saturday 1st December. David Forbes, the gold-medal winning star sailor in the 1972 Munich Olympics, put another feather on his hat after guiding Merlin to a successive doubles. Despite a testy wind pattern and big waves, the three-time Olympian and former America’s Cup sailor dominated the race as he finished at 16.39.40pm - roughly one hour earlier of his closest trailer.
Merlin has taken successive doubles. Credit www.sailpix.com.au
Forbes was able to keep ahead of a fading toggling breeze that beset most of the fleet taking part in the Club’s short offshore yacht race.
Forbes, who represented at three Olympic Games and the America’s Cup, made good work of a race beset by light confusing airs to cross the Rushcutters Bay finish line at 16.39.40pm, nearly an hour ahead of rivals, the Grant Dawson/Brent Lawson owned Kerisma, a Ker 11.3, and Imagination, Rob and Annette Hawthorn’s Beneteau 47.7.
Overall, Merlin, a Kaiko 52 representing Middle Harbour Yacht Club, saved enough time to win overall as well, just as he did in the CYCA’s Port Hacking Race two weeks ago. Imagination, which is also entered into the CYCA’s Short Ocean Pointscore, was second overall, with Kerisma third.
Although Principal Race Officer Robyn Morton sent the fleet on its way at 12.00pm in a nice 10-15 knot north/north-easterly wind, conditions waxed and waned, leaving the boats bobbing around offshore on the last leg of the three lap windward leeward course that started on Sydney Harbour.
Course 3, took the boats from Shark Island out to a laid mark, set at 20 degrees, with the finish back at Rushcutters Bay.
Robin Hawthorn said of the start: 'The line was heavily biased and the boats crowded at the start boat end. It was congested and difficult. We got away on the second start; I chose to start further down the line to avoid the congestion.'
Hawthorn said he picked a left-hand shift off the start and went with it. 'Merlin, Quest and Kerisma did the same, but the rest tacked and went right. We’d done the right thing and stayed in pressure all the way to North Head, putting distance on the rest of the fleet,' he said.
The north/nor-easterly held and Merlin rounded the top mark the first time in front of Kerisma and Imagination. Hawthorn said the breeze was alright, until the yachts headed to the windward mark for the third time.
'Merlin and Quest got around before it got too light, but then the breeze really died and we struggled in 4 knots against a southerly set – it was terrible,' Hawthorn remembered.
'The Farr 40 (Enigma) struggled around the mark and it took us another half hour of tacking back and forward, but it was worse for those behind us,' he said.
However, Hawthorn and others got the surprise of their life when, re-entering the Harbour to sail up to the finish line, they found a lovely nor’ easter waiting for them. 'It got up to around 16 knots, it was really nice. It’s unusual to find more wind in the Harbour than there is offshore,' he said.
Imagination had led Kerisma for much of the race, but once the kites were up in the Harbour, Dawson/Lawson’s Ker 11.3 mowed down the Beneteau 47.7 and crossed the line 27 seconds in front of the Hawthorns’ boat. However, it was not enough to beat Imagination overall for second place.
Ocean Pointscore leader, Julian Farren-Price, sailing his Cookson 12 About Time, finished Race 5 of the OPS in fourth place overall, allowing him to maintain the series lead by five and a half points over Paul Clitheroe’s Beneteau 45, Balance, with a further half point to Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire, a sistership to Balance. Merlin is a further eight points behind.
Race six of the Ocean Pointscore Series will be held on Australia Day, January 26, starting at 11.00am. Competitors will be racing for the City of Sydney Cup. The Lion Island Race on March 16 brings the nine race OPS to its conclusion.
Full race results available here.