The annual Sydney Amateur Sailing Club pre-Easter race from Sydney Harbour to Pittwater was again dominated by vintage yachts. Sailed in glorious sunshine and a brisk Southerly of up to 23 knots that saw most of the fleet clear the Heads inside 20 minutes, the ‘Bob Bown’ was won on handicap by Paper Moon (Dennis Williams), a Spencer 32 built in New Zealand back in 1976.
Second, by a margin of four minutes, was last year’s winner, the 1965 Swanson 36 Mister Christian (David Salter and Ben Gray), followed six minutes later by Magic (Chris Manion), a Beneteau First 325 launched in 1986. Fourth was another vintage yacht, Reverie (John Barclay), sailing with its original gaff cutter rig.
Eleven yachts faced the starters at Clark Island and ten finished. The only retirement was Carabella V (Matthew McCann), a powerful new XP 50. McCann and his crew were well clear in the race for line honours but prudently decided not to risk grounding at low tide on the Pittwater sandbar as they approached the line at Coaster’s Retreat.
The fresh Southerly allowed a spanking spinnaker run past the Northern beaches, although the rhumbline to Barrenjoey was so square that most boats edged out to sea to improve their angle. Mister Christian, with its long straight keel, was able to hold an inshore track and gybed their spinnaker abeam of the entrance to Broken Bay, in second place behind Carabella V.
But it wasn’t long before the windless ‘hole-of-death’ behind Barrenjoey claimed Mister Christian. Williams and his crew of Katherine Sainty, Louise Macaulay and Julian Ledger then deftly sailed Paper Moon around the lee of the headland and toward the far shore at Mackerel Beach for a close-hauled leg to the line. Coastal cruising stalwarts Ian and Wendy Anstee performed the radio, finishing and timekeeping duties on their elegant Moody 41 Mystic II.
In previous years the dying breeze inside Pittwater had meant that some of the smaller entrants often failed to make the 20:00 time limit, a disappointing end to a 20-mile sail. But for 2014 the SASC moved the start time to 13:00, one hour earlier than the traditional Bob Brown 'off', and the entire fleet was able to finish safely in daylight.
The other yachts participating this year, in handicap finishing order, were Classic Blue (Michael Brennan), Molly (Frank Hetherton), Maris (Tiare Tomaszewski), Manu Kai (Peter Robinsoin), Hagar IV (Rodney Childs) and Shibumi (Paul Thompson and Bryon Moore).