Gascoigne Cup 2011, organised by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, was held today, Saturday 22nd October off the coast of Sydney.
Quest on her way to winning the 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart - Gascoigne Cup 2011
Two-times Sydney Hobart winner Bob Steel today added another famous trophy to his long list of ocean racing successes when his TP52 Quest won the prestigious Gascoigne Cup short ocean race.
Quest had a triple success, taking line honors in the 30 boat fleet, winning the 125-year-old Gascoigne Cup on PHS handicaps and also placing first in the IRC rating division.
The TP52 outsailed the opposition in the 6-7 knot east-north-easterly sea breeze, powering to windward in the relatively flat conditions offshore to win the Gascoigne Cup on corrected time from Wild One (Larki Missiris) and Occasional Coarse Language (Warwick Sherman).
This was the 103rd running of the Gascoigne Cup race, one of three short ocean races conducted each year by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. The first Milson Cup race was sailed in 1886, but no races were held during the world wars.
With strong support from yachts in the Squadron’s inshore division fleets, this year’s Milson Cup saw 30 boats start in two divisions.
The fleet got away from a start line off Watson’s Bay in a light ENE breeze which increased slightly during the afternoon, with race officer David Reid setting a windward leg of just one nautical mile from the leeward mark off the Heads, on a course of 050.
'Conditions off Sydney are absolutely fabulous for a short ocean race, the sea is sparkling in the 6-7 knots knot breeze, and out to sea we have sighted a whale,' Reid said as the committee boat followed the fleet to sea.
The RSYS’s Rob Ridley, on station at the windward mark, had more than whales to add to an afternoon of sealife watching. 'We were surrounded by thousands of small fish and ten or twelves sharks, leaping out of the water as the chased the little fish,' Ridley said. 'For the yachties, it was an easy race, with Quest opening up a big lead.'
Quest also had a close encounter with a whale. 'A baby whale dived under the boat and I reckon missed the keel by less than a metre,' skipper Bob Steel said after the race.
Quest finished more than 20 minutes ahead of AFR Midnight Rambler, Ed Psaltis and Bob Thomas’ new Ker 40, which finished second to Quest on corrected time in the IRC division, which is part of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Grant Thornton Short Ocean Pointscore.
Third place on IRC went to another new boat, Warwick Sherman’s latest Occasional Coarse Language, a GTS 43, fourth to pointscore leader Jake, Ray Enwhistle’s new J111.
'We had a most enjoyable race, even though the breeze was rather light, and I even got to do some steering as the others had pay attention to navigation as Quest had no-one to follow around the course,' Steel added.
Steel won the Rolex Sydney Hobart in 2002 and again in 2008 with his current Quest, a TP52. As he went up to collect his Rolex watch at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Steel famously took off his existing watch and threw in into the Derwent. He later realised it was a gift from his wife and engaged a diver to search for the watch – and it was recovered!
His sailing these days includes twilights and the Grant Thornton SOPS but he is expecting some pressure from the crew to go south again – and from his wife not to!
PHS results for the Grant Thornton Short Ocean Pointscore saw Quest win Division 1 from Occasional Coarse Language and Enigma, skippered by Michael Cranitch. Division 2 went to Outlandish (Sean Barrett) from Out of Sight (Matt Wilkinson) and Zephyr Hamilton Elevators (Alex Brandon).
The Gascoigne Cup this year drew a strong contingent from the RSYS’s inshore divisions, with the added incentive of sailing for the new Perservence Trophy, a pointscore for Squadron boats contesting the club’s three short ocean races over the summer, the Gascoigne, Morna and Milson Cups.
Best of the Squadron boats in the Gascoigne Cup scoring was Ian Macdiarmid’s Hell Razor which placed eighth, beating Geoff and Debbie Davidson’s Jack Clare by just three seconds on corrected time.
Bob Steel famously tosses his old watch into the River Derwent before receiving his new Rolex after winning the 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart - Gascoigne Cup 2011