by Tom Spithill
A strong fleet of 22 took part in the RPAYC’s 47nm Pittwater Newcastle race. The fleet got under way at 1000hrs in perfect autumn conditions with a spectacular spinnaker start in a light 5 knot westerly.
Tight squeeze at the start down at the boat end with Sirocco on the left getting the best of the start - RPAYC Blue Water Series Pittwater to Newcastle Race
The heavily congested boat end of the line saw RPAYC’s John Ellis’ Elan 37 ‘Sirocco’ manage to thread a path through the pack to win the boat end and get a favourable start. At the pin end of the line, the MHYC’s Morton/Buckeridge Frers 62 ‘Margaret Rintoul V’, managed to stay clear of all the commotion at the boat end to have a clear start with another MHYC contender, Ian Box’s X442 ‘Toybox’.
Shortly after starting the wind started to drop out and the boats were facing the tactical decision of going high early to the coast line or taking some depth. Ian Box’s ‘Toybox’ took the low road first and managed to hook into a 8 - 10 knot north westerly that slingshot them into an early lead along with ‘Margret Rintoul V’ whilst rivals Curtis/Trembath/Snedden's Murray 42 ‘Secret Men’s Business’, Bruce Staples Farr 40 ‘Witchcraft’ & the Sydney 38 ‘Old School’ skippered by Mark Griffith were left in a parking lot waiting for the wind to get to them.
After a few more 'parking lots' the fleet managed to sail into a building 10 to 12 knot North Easter as they tacked their way up the coast in what RPAYC Vice Commodore Rob Curtis described as 'champagne sailing'.
By Norah Head ‘Margaret Rintoul V’ was in her element and had stretched out to a comfortable lead, with ‘Old School’ deciding to go away from the coast searching for stronger winds offshore.
‘Margaret Rintoul V’ held onto her lead to cross the line in first place at 1745hrs in a time of 7hrs 45mins 55secs. Mark Griffiths ‘Old School’ was the big mover of the day with the gamble to go offshore clearly paying off, reappearing close to the finish to cross the line 30 minutes later to take second place over the line and in doing so beating some of her bigger and faster rivals. ‘Witchcraft’ was third over the line.
Spectators at the finish where treated to a spectacle when the next trio ‘Secret Men’s Business’,’ Toy Box’ and the smallest in the fleet Garry Holder’s ID35 ’The Real Thing’, crossed the finish line separated by only a couple of boat lengths between them.
‘Old School’ dictated terms teaching everyone a lesson on the day by taking out first place in both PHS & IRC, by a comfortable margin on corrected time. 'We had a great race, the call was made to go a bit further offshore and it ended up paying off,' said a jubilant Griffith representing the RPAYC. MHYC’s ‘Toy Box’ was second in IRC with another RPAYC competitor Shaw Russett’s Beneteau First 40 ‘Tailwind’ in third. In PHS, ‘Old School’ was followed by the Middle Harbour double of ‘Margaret Rintoul V’ and ‘Toy Box’.
Mark Griffith 'Old School' getting into the zone pre race - RPAYC Blue Water Series Pittwater to Newcastle Race
The Pittwater to Newcastle Race hosted by The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club is part of a four race Blue Water pointscore Series including races to Bird Island, Botany Bay and the prestigious Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race. The race is also a feeder race for Sail Prot Stephens.
The IRC series was taken out by Bruce Staples Farr 40 ‘Witchcraft’ following some consistent results over the series in front of ‘Secret Men’s Business’ and Robert Alder’s J35 ‘Jayhawk’.
A fourth in this final race was enough for Garry Holder’s ‘The Real Thing’ to take out the series in the PHS Division following victory in Race One and a second placing in Race Three. She finished in front of ‘Secret Men’s Business’ with David Boekemann’s Beneteau 40.7 ‘Bombolo’ rounding out the series in third.
The Real Thing took the honours in the Blue Water Series PHS Division - RPAYC Blue Water Series Pittwater to Newcastle Race
Pittwater to Newcastle Race Results:
1st Old School – Mark Griffith
2nd Toy Box – Ian Box
3rd Tailwind – Shaw Russett
1st Old School – Mark Griffith
2nd Margaret Rintoul V – Graham Morton
3rd Toy Box – Ian Box
Bluewater Series Results:
1st Witchcraft – Bruce Staples
2nd Secret Mens Buisness – SMB Syndicate
3rd Jayhawk – Robert Alder
1st The Real Thing – Gary Holder
2nd Secret Mens Business - SMB Syndicate
3rd Bombolo – David Boekemann
Champagne sailing - Secret Men's Business amongst the spinnaker action soon after the start - RPAYC Blue Water Series Pittwater to Newcastle Race