Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship preview

Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship fleet
The Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship (SSORC), is set to take place from the 26-27 November and reigning champions from multiple events have placed their bids to contest what will be the 34th edition of the race.

This annual event will feature a showdown between some of the sport’s heavy hitters, such as the winner of last year’s SSORC IRC Ocean Passage Division defending Blue Water Point Score champion, Loki, owned by Stephen Ainsworth, who is also chasing the title of the fastest boat around the track - for the John Hurley Gun Boat Trophy.

Ainsworth’s Reichel/Pugh 63 will be joined by other gun boats, including Marcus Blackmore and his TP52 Hooligan (the ex Emirates Team New Zealand), winners of Class A of the four-event Audi IRC Australian Championship. Blackmore has proved to be the class act, almost unbeatable when racing in a regatta format.

Blackmore was looking forward to trading blows with Victorian Rob Hanna and his new Shogun (the former Audi Azzurra), but it is not to be. Hanna says his new boat will arrive in Sydney mid this month and won’t be ready in time.

RPAYC and MHYC member Blackmore also won overall the Brisbane Gladstone race in April and has ocean racing’s top boat in his sights. 'Loki is on the radar too. Stephen Ainsworth says he’ll give us a go – we’ll see,' he said, with a big grin on his face – Blackmore loves nothing better than a good stoush on the water.

Victoire, Darryl Hodgkinson’s Beneteau First 45, and The Philosopher’s Club, Peter Sorensen’s Sydney 36CR from MHYC are two further championship winners.

A member of the CYCA, Hodgkinson won Class B of the IRC Australian Championship and is presently leading his Club’s Blue Water Point Score. 'I feel our time has come,' ‘Dr Daryl’, a plastic surgeon announced.

'That doesn’t mean we can get complacent; we have to be just as meticulous as the Lokis and Hooligans to keep winning,' he acknowledged.

Sorensen won the Australian IRC Championship overall in 2008 and won Class C this year after a change in format resulted in three Class winners being crowned. ‘Sorro’ also scored a divisional win in MHYC’s Sydney Harbour Regatta in March and drove away in a new Audi after also winning the company’s Drive Challenge.

Commodore Julie Hodder and Peter Sorensen aboard his The Philosopher's Club

'The SSORC is the first offshore regatta of the summer season, so it’s important, because you get to have a look at any new boats. It’s a bit of a test of what could happen later in the season and who your major threats might be,' Sorensen said.

Among others, the Sydney solicitor named Victoire, L’Altra Donna (Andy Kearnan’s Summit 35) and Exile as some of his major adversaries. 'Victoire will be very hard to beat, but so will others like Exile – all three are solid contenders,' he said.

The winner of last year’s Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship IRC Grand Prix Division, Rob Reynolds’ Exile, representing MHYC, is again set to provide the benchmark. Reynolds is an old hand, so won’t be letting the opposition intimidate him.

MHYC Commodore, Julie Hodder, said her Club was ecstatic with the calibre and number of entries received so far. 'The SSORC is the first premier regatta of the Australian summer program. This year we’ll be providing a variety of courses that will test out both boats and crews,' she said.

'After each day of racing, crews and supporters can expect a fun time, enjoying the music, dancing and socialising on the beautiful beach at MHYC,' added the Commodore, intimating there was further news on the way regarding entries that would be announced next week.

Competitors can look forward to a new racing format too. Recognising that the IRC rule works better when there is a variety of racing, the Club has included longer passage races and shorter races that include a reaching leg.

Racing will be conducted on three separate course areas. The main event will be windward/leeward courses on the Manly and Macquarie Circles just off Sydney Heads, the Passage racing will start and finish on Sydney Harbour and the Farr 40 One Design windward/leeward racing and Seven Islands Race will be conducted on Sydney Harbour.

An annual event, the Seven Islands Race is to be held In conjunction with the 34th Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship 2011 and offers a fun but challenging day navigating around Sydney Harbour’s islands. Beachside entertainment back at Middle Harbour Yacht Club will follow racing.

A vital component of the Australian summer racing program, many yacht crews limber up for the Rolex Sydney Hobart in the SSORC, which also gives a useful insight into the form boats of the summer season.

With entries closing at midnight on Friday 18 November, prospective competitors have only two weeks to sign on, so enter online now where the Notice of Race can also be downloaded from the official website.