Spring Series 2012 – Clarke, Croker make history for women's sailing

The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron fleet starting in a light nor’’easter off Double Bay
The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron Spring Series 2012 witnessed an historic day for women’s sailing after owners/skipper Julie Clarke and Cheryn Croker steered their boats to victory in Division 2 and 4 of the Spring Series.

In an historic day for women’s sailing at the Squadron, owner/skippers Julie Clarke and Cheryn Croker last Saturday helmed their yachts to overall wins in Divisions 2 and 4 of the Spring Series.

Julie, an experienced yachtswoman of long standing, sailed Senta, a Beneteau First 35 she owns with husband Terry, to victory in Division 2, taking line honours for the first time this season and placing second on corrected time.

Cheryn, in her first season of open competition in the Squadron’s Saturday racing, won the final race on Saturday with her Compass 29, Daydream, to clinch the Division 4 pointscore on a countback.

The Spring Series ended in a light to moderate and rather variable north-easterly breeze that ranged from 12-18 knots with a strong turn-out in all divisions and one-design classes.

'I didn’t’ realise we had a chance of winning the Spring Series until I looked up the pointscore last Friday, but I didn’t tell any of the crew, so they sailed without any tension about winning or losing,' recalled Julie Clarke, who helms the boat with husband Terry on mainsheet.

'It has taken us a year to get to know the new boat, but having a fairly regular crew has made the difference,' she added. 'The big thing has been to get the better of the J35s – and we did it on Saturday, getting the gun for first time. But we still have not won a race on handicap!'

Julie’s passion, other than for sailing, is grand opera and their boat, Senta, is named after the heroine in Wagner’s grand opera, The Flying Dutchman.

Senta won the Division 2 Spring Series with a net 41.54 points, with second place going to the J35 Soundtrack (John Amos) on 45 points and Arcturus III (Peter Davenport) on 47.62 points.

Cheryn Croker was ecstatic after the countback showed that Daydream had won the Division 4 Spring Series. 'The girls are tickled pink', she quipped.



Cheryn explained how the crew taped together a headsail that had been ripped the previous week and then damaged further in the strong breeze during the Friday twilights. 'Luckily, we got hold of some wider tape and hurriedly repatched it in the pond on Saturday morning,' she said.

'We also ripped the spinnaker from to end to end on our last downwind leg on Saturday. We only had four crew on board and we did not let off the halyard in time for the drop; it came apart in the foredeckie’s hands as she tried to haul it in.

'Saturday was the first time we had seriously kept up with the fleet, but there was a lot riding on it,' Cheryn added.

Daydream and Stafford Watts’ Folkboat Beowulf finished equal on 29 points after three discard races, but the countback went to Daydream with five first places to Beowulf’s four over the spring season. Kerstin II (John Bowman/Ken Chase/John Goldie) finished third on 33 points.

Division 1 saw another close result, with Charles Curran’s Sydney finishing on 45 points to Ian MacDiarmid’s Hell Razor’s 48.84 points, third place going to Impetuous Too (Graeme Lambert).

Division 3 Spring Series ended with just one point separating Mystere (Malcolm Shaw) and Tingari (John Jeremy) third place overall going to Zeus II (Jim Dunstan).

The International Etchells Spring Series of 25 races went to Ciao (Doug McGain) on 68 points, with McGain not needing to sail the final race. Alchemist (Richard Hammond and Roger Gain) finished second on 77 points with a last race win, third in the series going to Unami (Matt Whitnall and Ant Elliott) with 107 points.

Mexico Olympics sailor Carl Ryves followed up his New South Wales championship win in the International Dragon class by dominating the Spring Series, winning seven of the nine races with Sidewinder to finish with 7 points. Liquidity (Richard Franklin) ended with 23 points, with Indulgence (Robert Alpe) third on 27points.

With the previous weekend’s Dragons states restricted to five races, Sidewinder had a 4-3-8-1-1 scorecard with Riga (Martin Burke) second and Hooligan (Marcus Blackmore) third. The Dragons are now heading to Botany Bay for the Prince Philip Cup in January.



In the Intentional Yngling class, Miss Pibb (Hamish Jarrett and Max Hayman) notched up five wins and two seconds to comfortably win the Spring Series from Black Adder (Gary Pearce) and Shining Star (Chris Harper).
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