The final races of the Ullman Sails Sprint Series for the Sydney 38 class was run and won last Sunday at Sandringham Yacht Club. Under a grey overcast sky, an excellent fleet of seven Sydney 38s came out to play.
Three races were completed to wrap up the 10 race series. The series was dominated by 'Sierra Chainsaw' owned by the Mollison family for the second year running. Second was ‘Audacious' (Greg Clinnick and Paul Holden) from the improving 'Clockwork' (Gordon Mather and Frank Mc Dermott).
Race 1 was sailed in a southerly wind of 16 knots with a nasty choppy sea. 'Challenge' (Lou Abrahams) got the best of the starts at the pin end of the start line and hit the left hand corner to lead comfortably at the weather mark from 'Cinquante' (Ian Murray) sailed by Tony Bull from Ullman Sails on this occasion. 'Challenge' extended her lead to the finish whilst 'Cinquinte' did well to beat the fast finishing 'Sierra Chainsaw'.
With the wind showing signs of abating, spanners were out as crews loosen rigs in the search for power before the start of race 2. 'Challenge' again won the pin but had a race on her hand with 'Clockwork' showing good speed. On a tight lay line 'Challenge' being helmed by Mark Bulka, was able to squeeze around the weather mark to take the lead enabling her to which sail her own race to win comfortably. Back in the pack racing was close and willing. There were a number of close encounters and a rules night may well be necessary in the future. Again it was 'Sierra Chainsaw' to come from behind to pass 'Cinquante' to finish strongly behind 'Clockwork'.
The final race of the day was a real test. The wind was dying but still over 10 knots so the jib selection was critical. Once again 'Challenge' wanted the left but on this occasion it was 'Cinquante' who won the start. With a well timed start 'Bully' took the pin, was headed and immediately had a 100 metre lead. 'Challenge' bailed early but whilst she crossed the rest of the fleet, the wind continued to go left allowing a number of the fleet including '38 Degrees South' (John Chatham) and 'Sierra Chainsaw' to lift on port to the mark. 'Cinquante' and 'Sierra Chainsaw' engaged in combat on the run allowing 'Challenge' the opportunity to close the gap by the leeward mark. 'Challenge' changed to the light jib on the run and this paid dividends immediately. The wind was now under 10 knots but the sea state was still very choppy. This allowed 'Challenge' to power her way to the lead on the favoured left side of the course. 'Cinquante', which had sailed the forty miles across the bay from Geelong to compete in the days racing, finished a good day with another second place with the consistent 'Sierra Chainsaw' third.
The Sydney 38 class combined with a number of Rotary Clubs used the day to take some young members of the community who would not otherwise have the opportunity, to go sailing and from the smiles on their faces, the experience was a terrific success. A barbeque presentation was held on the deck of the new SYC clubhouse to conclude the activities.
Many thanks must go the host clubs Sandringham and Royal Brighton Yacht club and the sponsor Sam Haines of Ullman Sails. Ullman Sails have recently relocated to Sandringham and have been great supporters of the class. No doubt the involvement of Ullman Sails has contributed to the improvement in 'Audacious' during the year.
The next major regatta for the Victorian Sydney 38 fleet is the Sate Titles to be hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club on the 16th and 17th of April, 2011.