by John Curnow
Earlier on in the week, there had been a promise of the breeze being fresh to frightening for Saturday’s racing on Port Phillip. This would have been more than good for TP52 Southern Cross Cup. Sailors would have been even more exhausted and spectators would have been completely thrilled.
Cougar II are keen to do well in this regatta. - TP52 Southern Cross Cup
Saturday began with an owners meeting, where they all sang praise for the level of support provided by the sponsors, Brighton Jeep and Coopers Brewery and also Sandringham Yacht Club. All are happy with how this inaugural event has gone, so far. The terrifically spectacular downwind start has remained, provided it is used in under 12 knots, in the main. Many developments will no doubt come from this session; they’ll be designed to keep it fun and affordable for the owners, so as to promote the overall growth of the class and events.
'We did not start all that well yesterday, so it is something for us to look at today. On starboard tack we were not as good as port, so we do have some things in the plan for today. We are consistent with our results, so that is pretty much the way to get on the scoreboard and possibly win a regatta', said Marcus Blackmore as he went off to race.
Rob Hanna from Shogun V said, 'Getting a good start is certainly part of the way to do well and the centre gate means that you can never go off on a flyer, so the chances to make up some ground are not as prevalent as with normal racing. You need to be going on pace when you get to the line, too. We did not sail all that well yesterday, but today is another day and you have to focus on that. I have come last before, you know. I use this mantra a bit with the Olympic teams I manage - Remember that there is more to life than winning. There is losing, which is why winning is so important.'
Pete Williams substituted back in to Calm 2 today to steer due to Ian ‘Barney’ Walker losing a battle with a dog and its food. Everyone hopes he recovers well from the surgery. 'He can slot straight back in and it is not a major disruption to us, as Pete has been part of the whole campaign for over 12 months. Stepping back to have some time for other duties is just a part of covering one’s many aspects in this life', said Jason Van Der Slot. 'I’m feeling really good, had the one day off, so here we are again and I have blown all the brownie points already', said Pete of his short sabbatical.
Jason was also very happy to see just how delighted all the owners have been and that the crews are very much enjoying not only the racing, but also the post race activities each day, when the emphasis gets very much back to enjoying the camaraderie and fun that the sport of sailing provides so well for. Over 20 spectator vessels of many different varieties watched the racing off the breakwater at Sandringham today, so the message is clear. If you want to see great boats working hard on designer courses, then the TP52 Southern Cross Cup is there to offer owners, sailors and spectators all they could wish for.
Tony Lyall from Cougar II was 'Very happy to mix it up with the fleet yesterday and we did really enjoy that second place in Race Two. We’re really keen to get in to the charge today, as well.' The happy, smiley crew seemed to relish that particular comment and gave a unanimous thumbs up to us in a sign of their approval.
The reason we are able to go around and see all the crews before racing was that racing had been delayed under Answering Pennant up until 1330hrs, at which time, the Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson sent them back to the marina for a little while. The shifty breeze had remained from yesterday and moved anywhere from about 160 through to 130 and even 110 there, at one point later during racing.
Indeed they were called back at around 1400hrs, but it would take the TPs another half hour to appear on station. A Megayacht came through the vicinity to see what the action was all about and then anchored further South. The start sequence was then begun, as such, at around 1450hrs with the dropping of the AP.
That start was clearly and emphatically won by Beau Geste, with a lot of congestion down at the pin end. Hooligan and Calm were others to do well up at the boat end. Scarlet Runner would get in to a solid second place on the first work, but by the time the top mark was reached on an axis of 130 degrees, Beau Geste lead Hooligan around, with Shogun V, Scarlet Runner, Calm 2, Cougar II, Calm and then Frantic, next. At the intermediate gate on their way down for the first time, there was a change to 310degrees for the bottom mark, around 1.9nm below the top. The major change in the order there was that Scarlet Runner and Calm 2 both got in front of Shogun V.
As they went in for the finish, the gaps had grown between them all, with Beau Geste the victor over Hooligan, Calm 2 and then Shogun V got back a bit from all their efforts to be the mover and shaker. Cougar II, Scarlet Runner, Calm and Frantic took the other places in that order.
John Cutler from Beau Geste commented on the water, 'Two pretty big shifts left during racing and one back to the right on the final run as well. It is going great for us and with Gavin’s (Brady) starts and the hard work from everyone over the last few days, we are tracking well, opening up the lead a bit as well. No lead is too great sometimes, so you just have to keep at it. We are wondering what is going to come out from under these clouds, but there’s another race to had yet, for sure.'
A little more waiting was to be had as well, with the AP going back up at 1600 hrs before the start of Race Five. An axis of 110degrees from the start to the top was set. The fabled downwind start was removed when the breeze made a real 10 knots for the first time during the racing, as the axis was shifted to 155. There was 1nm to traverse to get to the top and 0.9 to make from the gate to the bottom, so that racing would be all done and dusted in around 50 minutes.
Calm 2 won the start, but Hooligan was possibly the one with the hull at speed as they went over the line. Hooligan would take them in to the top, but it was a lot closer this time. The four newer craft would lead the fleet, with Calm 2, Beau Geste and Shogun V coming around in close order behind Hooligan. Cougar II, Calm, Scarlet Runner and Frantic was the way the other four went around.
On the run down, Beau Geste would climb over Calm 2, with Shogun V, Scarlet Runner, Cougar II, Calm and Frantic coming in after that. Hooligan would go on to be the go to wo winner, with Beau Geste, Calm 2, Shogun V, Scarlet Runner, Cougar II, Calm and Frantic arriving in that order.
The upshot of all of that is Beau Geste increase their lead to four points over Hooligan, who are on 12. Calm 2 are in third with 14 and then it is on for fourth place, with Cougar II, Scarlet Runner and Shogun V having a five point spread amongst themselves. In could end up being the race within the race, if you like.
So with five races in the bag so far, competitors have to hope that they all get to at least six of the eight planned races to enjoy having a drop. The final set of racing gets underway on the Sunday, at 11am, so it will be entirely up to Hughie the God of Wind to see how many the TP52 Southern Cross Cup will end up with.
If you are in Melbourne presently, you can see all of the action by simply coming along to the clubhouse at Jetty Road in Sandringham. To arrange your best vantage point, simply contact Sandringham Yacht Club directly on 9599 0999. They will do their best to assist any member of the public who wishes to see this great spectacle. Victorian club members can sign in at the Reception Desk and then go to Member’s Bar for the best views on offer.
Well done to all crews and the armada of volunteers running everything that made the day happen. Many thanks to Marcus Blackmore for providing his Protector support vessel for me to observe today’s racing and the very amicable John Biffin for driving it.
The TP52 Southern Cross Cup is all made possible with the generous assistance of Brighton Jeep and Coopers Brewery. See syc.com.au and transpac52.org/home for more information.