by Rick Steuart
As a forerunner to the Fremantle Harbour Classic, an intrepid bunch of America’s Cup legends resident in West Australia stepped out onto the water with a number of like-minded senior sailors and their crews.
The reason: try out their skills on the water as a precursor to the Harbour Classic held in Fremantle harbour last Sunday.
Ten SB 20’s were at hand and with the help of the Fremantle Sailing Club and race officer Terry Milton, the racing began.
Sailing in a moveable feast of gusts out of the nor east, most of the skippers were sailing on the SB 20’s for the first time, though some had been seen sailing on them earlier during the week, testing the water as so to say.
John Longley pointing the way
The betting was brisk and with such luminaries as Damian Fewster, John Longley, Skip Lissiman, Andy Fethers, Ben Durham, Peter Gilmour, Scott McAllister and Chris Sutherland, the race was loaded with talent. Then there was the addition of the Keogh’s who had started the SB20’s in Fremantle and featured so prominently in the Harbour race last year. Anything could happen.
Sailing windward / leeward races, the wind pressure did not get above 10 knots, but the gusts gave advantages to those who could pick them and whilst all the crews were improving, it was a matter of learning the boat and sailing it to your advantage.
The Gilmour Gang
Given that the crews were loaded with talent, it was up to the abilities of the crews to mesh. The only family on the water was the Gilmour gang and it was clear that they had the advantage from the go. With all the experience on the water, the betting was hard on the family and they did not fail the punters.
A close finish in the first race and then two bullets in the next two races had them as clear winners of the Legends race and as Skip Lissiman said in an email thanking the club the next day.
Caitlin Elks at the front of John Longley's SB20
'Well done to FSC and all the team! I can’t speak on behalf of all of the old AC guys out sailing yesterday - but from the feedback I had in bar after the racing - all had a great day! I certainly did! So well done for the idea and making it happen.
Can we make it an annual event??