Julian Farren-Price with his 14 year old Cookson 12, About Time, has won a fourth consecutive Ocean Pointscore Series (OPS) on countback from David Forbes’ Kaiko 52 Merlin, after About Time finished third overall in the Lion Island Race, hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia today.
Farren-Price also adds the ORCi division win to his season accolades, having bounced back from a poor result in the first race of the series to Lion Island (which he was able to drop), when he and several other boats in the fleet rounded the wrong mark. His scorecard includes three firsts, two seconds and a third and a fifth place, handing him the title of the CYCA Ocean Pointscore Series champion.
'I’m absolutely ecstatic,' Farren-Price said this afternoon. 'We were very lucky to have prevailed by such a narrow margin over Merlin. David Forbes and his crew have been fabulous opposition all season.
And that tough opposition continued in today’s race Farren-Price recalled. 'We kept on their line the whole way up the coast. They went higher than us at Barrenjoey and we got caught after some bad tacks.
'It was almost as if the race stopped at the mark – lots of boats got parked up as the breeze had dropped out under the headland. There were a few boats doing circles in the current and no breeze.
'We managed to get ourselves out of it by staying low and then had a good tussle with Balance, Pazazz and Much Ado V on the way back. We couldn’t quite catch Balance and they couldn’t break away from us,' Farren-Price added.
The mild-mannered Sydney jeweller was still contemplating how he was going to hold off Merlin in next week’s race to Wollongong until he was reminded that the OPS ended with today’s race.
'This is our 14th season with About Time – she’s an incredible boat and my crew and I know her strengths and weaknesses. I would like to thank my crew who work hard all the time to keep the boat going. There’s a great vibe on the boat – my crew are great people to be at sea with.
In fact, Farren-Price has won eight out of the last ten OPS with his Cookson 12 and when asked the question about whether he would consider buying a new boat, he said 'I’m a bit of a traditionalist. We’ve had such good results with this boat that I’d like to maintain her record. I’d also have to find the right boat too.
'Plus, it was a big step-up for us, when we went from the Northshore 38 to this boat and it took us three - four years to really understand how to sail this boat well,' he added.
Darryl Hodgkinson’s canting keel Cookson 50 Victoire, the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart overall race winner, with Sean Kirkjian at the helm, secured the IRC and ORCi divisional wins today. Merlin finished second under IRC with Balance (Paul Clitheroe) finishing second in ORCi behind Victoire with About Time third.
'It was a nice one to win,' Kirkjian said. 'It was probably the most enjoyable sail I’ve had all year.
'We got out of the Heads with the tide behind us and tacked onto starboard and held that all the way up to Long Reef. We changed onto a port tack for a little while but then reverted back and were able to lay all the way into the mark.
'There was a fair bit of current at the mark, which caught some. We had anticipated it and were able to lift up underneath it. We went offshore as we headed home – one gybe all the way.
'It was tricky negotiating our way to the finish line with all the Saturday Harbour races with 13-14 knots,' Kirkjian added.
Racing got underway off the start line at Point Piper at 10:00am in a light north easterly of six - eight knots that built gradually as the fleet of 21 made their way to the Heads. Three boats, Midnight Rambler, St Jude and Balance, were a little eager to start jumping the gun and being forced to return and re-start.
Andrew Wenham’s Volvo 70 Southern Excellence and Victoire had a 25 minute tacking duel up the Harbour, which Wenham described as: 'We made a tactical decision to go right and they went left. They got to transit area at Hornby Light before us.'
Matthew Brown’s canting keel Shaw 10, Orbit, was the surprise packet off the start. The crew put themselves in a strong position, getting some good boat speed up on the relatively flat water, to be in the lead pack out if the Heads.
Southern Excellence II was the first boat home in the OPS Lion Island Race - Ocean Pointscore Series 2014 - Brett Hemmings-Sailpix
Southern Excellence II crossed the finish line at 14:22:15, with an elapsed time of 4hrs, 22mins and 15seconds for the 30 nautical mile course with Wenham calling today’s race as 'one of the best races I’ve sail for a long while.'
'A couple of tacks and a spinnaker run back. The nor’easterly breeze kicked in about ten minutes before the start, so the Race Committee was able to get us away without delay. It was a bit lumpy going out (and on the way back in) at the Heads.
'The weather was perfect, the crew work was excellent and we found the mark this time around (as opposed to the first race in the OPS when half of the fleet rounded the incorrect mark). I couldn’t have asked for much more,' Wenham added.
Orbit secured the PHS win from Much Ado V (John Stephen) and Wax Lyrical (Les Goodridge).
Noel Cornish’ St Jude finished third in the overall Ocean Pointscore Series behind About Time and Merlin; with Balance and Victoire, second and third respectively in the ORCi division.
Merlin won the PHS division of the OPS from Wax Lyrical and Samarkand (Walter Carpenter), both of whom finished on equal points but were separated by a countback.
One race remains in the Autumn Ocean Pointscore, the Sydney Wollongong Race, which commences at 10am, next Saturday 22 March, with the non-pointscore Wollongong to Sydney return race, to commence at 10am Sunday 23 March.
For full results, click here
Victoire took the IRC and ORCi double win today - Ocean Pointscore Series 2014 - Andrea Francolini