Six Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race yachts are among the fleet of up to 46 boats expected to line up tomorrow for the 104th running of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s prestigious Gascoigne Cup short ocean race.
Bob Steels Quest the defending champion of the Gascoigne Cup
Heading the Sydney Hobart contenders is Bob Steel’s TP52 Quest which won the Gascoigne Cup last year as well as taking line honours and first place under IRC ratings. The Cup itself decided on Performance handicaps.
This will Steel’s second Rolex Sydney Hobart with the TP52 Quest with which he won in 2008, He also won with a previous boat named Quest.
Others entered for the Cup as part of their preparation for the Hobart race include Ed Psaltis Ker 40 AFR Midnight Rambler, Ron Forster’s Beneteau First 40 Ariel, Warwick Sherman’s Sydney GTS43 Occasional Coarse Language, Chris Bran’s Beneteau First 40 Brannew, and Jonathan Stone’s Davidson 34 Illusion, a past Sydney Hobart Race winner.
Psaltis is also a past Sydney Hobart winner with an earlier AFR Midnight Rambler.
The Gascoigne Cup is one of three short ocean races conducted each summer by the 150-year-old Squadron, the others being the Morna Cup sailed in November and the Milson Cup in February. All three perpetual trophies take pride of place in the Squadron's Kirribilli clubhouse.
The Gascoigne Cup is by the oldest and, arguably, the most prestigious short ocean race trophy on the Sydney short ocean racing calendar. Many famous yachts and yachtsmen have won this iconic ocean race since it was first presented to the club and raced for in 1886.
This Saturday's race, over a course of about 25 nautical miles, starting and finishing in Sydney Harbour, will be the 104th time the Gascoigne Cup has been contested as it was not awarded during the two World Wars.
The fleet includes yachts from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia will contest the race, which is also part of the Grant Thornton short ocean pointscore.
Among the fleet is another past winner of the Gascoigne Cup, Paul Clitheroe’s Balance while other prominent entries include CYCA Commodore Howard Piggot’s Flying Cloud and Victorian Rob Hanna’s Judel Vrolk 52 Shogun 5, while Squadron Division 1 yachts entered incude Hell Razor (Ian MacDiarmid), Euphoria (Tony Coleman), Jackie Clare (Geoff and Debbie Davidson), Wine-Dark-Sea (Peter Lowndes and Sarah Goddard-Jones).
Squadron yachts contesting Division 2 include Morag Bheag (John Maclurcan), alouette (John Waring), Senta (Terry and Julie Clarke), Aurelia (Norman and Thomas Longworth), King Billy (Phil and Elesa Bennett), Campeador (Jonathan and Mary Threlfall), Limelight (Alan Husband) and Arcturus III (Peter Davenport).
The Gascoigne Cup was presented to the Squadron in 1885 in honour of Captain Gascoigne, then Aide-de-Camp to Lord Carrington, Governor of New South Wales to honour the Captain for his heroic service in the Sudan campaign, which included an attempt to rescue the embattled General Gordon during the infamous siege of Khartoum in 1884-1885.
The original Deed of Gift specified an annual ocean race for yachts of over five tons measurement, until won three times in succession by the same yacht by the same owner. While a number of Squadron yachts were able to win two consecutive races in the first 45 years and even more in total, none could achieve three in a row. In 1933 the Deed of Gift was amended to make the Gascoigne Cup a perpetual trophy.
Remarkably, it was not until the 1950s that A F Albert's Norn achieved three consecutive wins (1952, 1953, 1954), achieving five wins in total. The most successful yacht, however, has been the famous Admiral's Cup team yacht Caprice of Huon which has won the Cup seven times, but with different skippers.