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ORCV Melbourne Winter Series - Great racing in cool conditions

by John Curnow on 3 Jul 2011
Despite the grey skies, there was some colour around - ORCV Melbourne Winter Series Alex McKinnon
41st Ocean Racing Club of Victoria’s Winter Series was held today, 3rd July, on Melbourne’s Port Phillip. There was very close racing in some very cool weather.

The ORCV Winter Series has attracted just under 40 of Melbourne’s best racing crews. The boats they are racing range from 52 to 30 feet.

Race one was conducted in 20-25 knot Northerlies, with the seas very much under a metre and that means it was fun and games for all concerned. Assisting the ORCV’s Race Director, Robin Hewitt, was PRO David LeRoy from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria. He said of the day, 'The wind played the game for us and that allowed a course to be set. It flicked one way and then the other, but on the whole it allowed for a fair run around the track.'

Today was the old Olympic Course day, which involves the use of wing mark, which is set halfway along the course and perpendicular to it. 'We set Course Two for Division One (One triangle and two sausages) and Course One for Division Two (One triangle and one sausage). They flew spinnakers on both reaches, so it must have been at the correct position and the flat water certainly helped. At the bottom of course it was lucky to be 750mm high', said David.

The square run was indeed very square. 'Chutzpah ran deeper and deeper and then ultimately fell over. They had a handy lead before it occurred and it looks like it cost them the race. The gybe set at the top mark seemed to have helped those brave enough to do it. Flare shoot is always a highlight and today it went particularly well.' There seemed to be some good learning’s for some of the crews out there, as a few of the rocket flares were fired a bit horizontal and so did not stay aloft as long as may have been desired.

There were some good gusts to come out of the breeze finding its way through the buildings of the CBD and so a few round ups left a couple of boats head to wind. One sailor commented that the Summer Season may have been over for just a couple of months, but there was some rusty crew work out there.

The oh-so-experienced Robin Hewitt commented, 'The wind eased, as forecasted, by the time racing got underway with 20-22 knots from 330 deg Magnetic. The starts were both clear and orderly, although that of Division Two was much closer to line. The Secretary was first away in that second start, but not with a lot of speed, so was soon passed. Showers and threatening sky loomed, however we received no more than a sprinkle. Stampede had to retire before the first mark unfortunately, due to some equipment damage. Goldfinger lead all the way for Division One and therefore had to race the clock to stay in contention.'

'One yacht 'flagged' a change of direction at the wing mark, but the wipeouts and dramas started on the square runs. I heard a competitor remark on shore later saying, 'Flat sea and reasonably steady wind - almost boring', but for sure he was not on any of several boats who experienced wipeouts', reflected Robin.

It was a partially Commercially Viable Day for sailmakers out there with Dry White loosing the bag that the spinnaker comes in. 'We saved all the spinnakers from damage, however', said one slightly sheepish crew member.

The little 30-footers, Toecutter 2 and Godzilla sailed well all day, especially Toecutter, who was the leader until the last work back to windward. She finished third over the line in Division Two, in the end. For their efforts, they were rewarded with a win in the Australian Measurement System (AMS) category. In the International Rule Club (IRC) category, Division Two was won by INSX. Rob Sill and the crew have been the winners of the Lord Warden Trophy for the last two years. This prestigious award goes to the crew with the lowest point score across all divisions and categories in the entire Winter Series. The J44, The Secretary, won the Performance Handicap title in Division Two, as the prevailing conditions would have very much suited her.

In Division One, last year’s Melbourne to Hobart winner and Eastcoaster record holder, the Farr52 Goldfinger, lead the fleet around. Alas, the seven and a half minute win for the Line Honours title was not enough to see her place in IRC, which was taken out by the Bakewell-White 39, Jazz Player. Jazzy, as she is affectionately known, also took out AMS with the doyen of Victorian yachting’s, Challenge, in second place in both handicap categories. Another Sydney 38, Chutzpah38, was in third place behind Lou Abraham’s entry.

In a clean sweep for the day, Jazz Player also won on performance in Division One, with Rush taking second ahead of Spirit of Downunder. It is good to see Rush back out, having had a break from racing in recent times.

So it may have been a bit cool out there on Melbourne’s Port Phillip today, but the hot racing certainly made up for it, with some crews missing out on podium places by just the one second.

The crews are next out in the ORCV Winter Series on July 17, 2011.

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