Only four points separated the first four boats in the 2011 Sydney 38 National Championships hosted by Royal Geelong Yacht Club during Audi Victoria Week. The championship attracted 13 entries, three of which were from interstate. Eight races were sailed in a variety of conditions ranging from very light shifting breezes to a gusty southerly reaching 25 knots at times.
With four heat wins it was 'The Goat', skippered by Bruce Foye from NSW which dominated the championship. 'The Goat’s' only blemish was a DNF in heat 4 after an altercation with 'Sierra Chainsaw’ (Andrew Mollison) in a start line altercation. However, the team including Bobby Wilmot on mainsheet were good enough to carry that penalty to win the eight race series by three points.'Zen' (Gordon Ketelbey), also from NSW, was placed second on a count back from 'Challenge' (Lou Abrahams) from Victoria. Close racing was the feature of the series.
After 2 restarts due to light and variable winds, only 2 races were completed. Race 1 set the scene with 'The Goat' winning comfortably from 'Chutzpah38' (Bruce Taylor) from Victoria with 'Challenge' a boat length away third.. 'Another Challenge' (Jonathan Neate) sailed a brilliant second race to hold off a fast finishing 'Zen' by one second with 'The Goat' consolidating its position in third. It was a long, hot day on the water and crews were happy when the PRO Greg Sinclair called it a day.
The conditions for day 2 of racing were at the opposite end of the spectrum. The wind was over 20 knots and gusting to 25 knots at times making for interesting races, the occasional broach none more spectacular than that orchestrated by 'Another Challenge' which destroyed a spinnaker in its shrouds. Even 'Challenge' suffered the indignity of an uncharacteristic wipe out as a result of a particularly vicious gust!
After exchanging places on the first beat in race 3, 'The Goat' escaped the cover of 'Challenge' to record her second win of the series. Local boat 'Cinquante' (Ian Murray) did particularly well on the preferred left hand side of the course to place third.
In the absence of 'The Goat' and 'Sierra Chainsaw' due to sail damage, 'Zen' sailed a clean race to beat 'Chutzpah38' with 'Cinquante' again doing well in race 4. 'The Goat’s DNF in a no drop series opened the door for others to win the series only if they were good enough!
Race 5 again started with most yachts opting for their heavy weather jibs. 'The Goat' lead from start to finish and was again the dominant boat. 'Chutzpah38' also enjoying the conditions was a clear second with 'Audacious' improving with every race doing well to finish third. This race was a defining one for 'Zen' which was pipped at the post by I second by 'Audacious' whist 'Challenge' exploded a main halyard block to effectively end her chances of a better result. Crews were tired and relieved to head back to the to the club to heal their wounds after an exciting and eventful day on the water.
Where did all the wind go? The plan was to complete the final 4 races, so the fleet was sent out early only to face another protracted wait for wind. The Race Officer finally got the fleet away in a very light north easterly. 'Audacious' jumped clear of the fleet and dominated the race with superior speed to win from 'Zen' and 'Challenge' enjoying their own battle for honours.
'Zen' and 'Challenge' were the early leaders in race 5, but a major shift to the left on the second beat enabled the fleet to close. Whilst 'Zen' was able to hang on to second place, 'Challenge' on the extreme right was hung out to dry and finished seventh. 'The Goat' made the most of the dual between 'Zen' and 'Challenge', attacked the left and won the race with the boat of the day, 'Audacious' third.
Another race was started in the fading breeze but this time the shift was to the right and the Race Officer had no choice but to abandon proceedings.
The sea breeze eventually kicked in from the south at 14 knots late in the day and these conditions no doubt were responsible for the best and closest racing of the regatta. Being the last race of the day, the start was keen with a general recall and a black flag restart. The whole fleet finished within 2 minutes and there were extremely close finishes. For example, 3 seconds between 'Challenge' and 'Sierra Chainsaw' and 2 seconds between ‘38 Degrees South' (John Chatham Vic) and 'Clockwork' (Gordon Mather & Frank MacDermont Vic) illustrated the attraction of one design racing. 'Chutzpah38' sailed well to win her first race of the series from the series winner 'The Goat' with 'Challenge' third. FINAL PLACINGS
!st The Goat Bruce Foye 28 points 1, 3, 1, 14, 1, 5, 1, 2
2nd Zen Gordon Ketelby 31 points 8, 2, 4, 1, 4, 2, 2, 8.
3rd Challenge Lou Abrahams 31 points 3, 4, 2, 4, 5, 3, 7, 3.
4th Chutzpah Bruce Taylor 32 points 2, 7, 5, 2, 2, 4, 9, 1.
5th Sierra Chainsaw Andrew Mollison 44 points 6, 6, 6, 6 rd, 6 rd, 6, 4, 4.
6th Audacious Geg Cliinick 57 points 11, 14, 12, 8, 3, 1, 3, 5.
7th Cinquante Ian Murray 57 points 7, 10, 3, 3, 6, 12, 5, 11.
8th Clockwork Gordon Mather 57 points 4, 5, 7, 7, 8, 7, 12, 7.
9th Another Challenge Jonathon Neate 62 points 9, 1, 10, 6, 7, 9, 11, 9.
10th Shining Sea Andrew Corletto 68 points 5, 8, 9, 5, 9, 8, 10, 14.
11th 38 Degrees South John Chatham 77 points 10, 11, 13, 11, 10, 10, 6, 6.
12th Adrenalin Ian Beer 79 points 12, 9, 8, 10, 11, 11, 8, 10.
13th Mille Sabords Stephane Howarth 95 points 13, 12, 11, 9, 12, 13, 13, 12.
The Corinthian Division was won by 'Sierra Chainsaw' from 'Audacious' and 'Another Challenge'. 'Shining Sea' from South Australia was awarded the Special Effort prize in recognition for their determination to make it to the regatta after breaking a rudder in the Sydney to Hobart. The popular Bruce Taylor won an award for being the most tolerant skipper! (He knew what it was for!). The series was sailed in good spirit and the Race Management team, lead by Greg Sinclair are to be congratulated for their on water management in difficult conditions. Our Victorian Measurer, John Chatham also deserves recognition for ensuring all entries conformed to the class rules.
However, there may not have been an event without the regatta sponsor, Ian Murray of Morris Finance Ltd. Ian and Mel also organised the hugely successful social function held on Monday night as well as the trophies. The Southern Chapter really appreciates your support each time we come to Geelong. A presentation on the lawns of the RGYC concluded a very successful National Championship.
Congratulations to Bruce Foye and 'The Goat' team who were clearly the best performed boat of the series.
Southern Chapter Sydney 38 Association