by Di Pearson
Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship (SSORC) is being held this weekend at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. Darryl Hodgkinson and his crew on Victoire had two causes for celebration this afternoon after taking Division 1 of the Lion Island Race.
VICTOIRE - Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship 2013
The Victoire crew stepped ashore for a quick celebratory drink after defeating their nemesis, Patrice (Tony Kirby), by one minute and seven seconds overall and local hero, Nine Dragons, Bob Cox’s DK46. It was quick as Hodgkinson’s long term principal helmsman, Sean Kirkjian, rushed away to pick up his wife and brand new baby boy Alex from hospital.
'What a way to end the day,' a thrilled Hodgkinson said. 'We’re back,' he said referring to being back at the top of the sailing pile as he was with his previous Victoire, A Beneteau 45. 'We had a quick drink to toast Sean and his new son too – I hope the fun continues tomorrow.'
The plastic surgeon purchased the former Jazz, a canting keeled Cookson 50 with attitude earlier this year and had to adjust from a fixed keel to canting. 'I’m not sure we’re fully used to it yet, but we’re getting there,' Doctor Darryl confirmed.
Victoire’s owner, who says his new boat is 'a dream,' described the day as 'wonderful,' as boat and crew thrived in the 15 knot southerly that bent east at times with 30-40 degree shifts; enough to keep everyone on their toes.
Their win over Tony Kirby’s brand new Ker 46 was also a psychological won ahead of the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart in which they are both entered. 'Patrice was always going to be our main problem,' Hodgkinson admitted.
'We were about four and a half minutes in front of them at Lion Island and we took a little bit more out of them coming home – there was a nice set and we surfed to the finish. It was very intense not knowing whether we had done enough,' said Hodgkinson, after being beaten by Patrice by one place in the Cabbage Tree Island Race this month.
In Division 2, Phil Dash pulled out all stops with his Beneteau 40, Just a Dash, to claim victory over Andrew Hurt’s Sydney 36 Onya by just over two minutes. Nigel Smyth sailed his aptly named Mat 1010, Tomato, into third place, nearly two minutes behind Onya.
All SSORC results are provisional pending any protests and the outcome of such.
Although the morning was cloudy with rain showers, by 1.00pm, the sun was out, although the cool southerly breeze made it no summer picnic for competitors as they headed north for the island off Pittwater after Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson got the two divisions away on time at 10.00am.
Tomorrow, the SSORC will continue with a short offshore race, to start in the Harbour and finish offshore, followed by a quick windward/leeward sprint to decide who is the all-round master of the annual Championship.
After a tight tussle between two Adams 10’s, Jim Curtis (Another Dilemma), shut the gate on Paul Saunders at the helm of Let Loose to claim Division 1 honours in the Seven Islands Race. Curtis finished second last year, so would be pleased to be in the winner’s circle.
Stuart Jordan made the best of the fresh breeze at the helm of his Farr 30, Optimum, but could not match the speed of his rivals, however, he did pip fellow Farr 30, 2Xcess (Peter Woodhead) to the post by just one second to take third place.
'This is the first time we’ve raced at this event and the first time we’ve raced against the other Farr 30,' Jordan said.
'We started at the same time and we seemed to have a slight advantage going upwind, but we didn’t use the kite as much as we should have and they (2Xcess) clawed us back a bit. Then we both set our big kites at Middle Head and carried them almost to the finish. It was so close and a lot of fun,' Jordan ended.
In Division 2, old age and treachery once again proved superior to youth and skill when 91 year-old John Walker helmed his Peterson Three Quarter Tonner, Impecabble to take out Division 2 from two J24’s; John ‘Hector’ Crawford’s Innamincka, and Chris Lee’s Vortex
Division 3 went to Jon Short’s Beneteau 40.7, L’attitude, from Mark McLean’s Bavaria 39 Pindimara and Col Wildman’s Beneteau 43, Oarsome.
As usual, it was a hotly contested event with a handicap pursuit start of Middle Harbour Yacht Club before the yachts turned right and wended their way up Sydney Harbour past all the famous islands, including Shark and Clark Islands to Fort Denison and under the Bridge to Goat, Cockatoo, Snapper and Spectacle Islands before again passing Fort Denison and on to the finish line off MHYC.
From the finish, it was back to MHYC for the signature Beach Party and barbecue where the day’s events were relived before a live band entertained all.
For full results in the SSORC and Seven Islands Race, including divisional placings visit the event website.