Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s Sydney Harbour Regatta - off to a flying start today when the overcast skies cleared and the predicted ‘sickly easterly’ turned into a perfect breeze of up to 15 knots on the Harbour and offshore courses, prompting Wild Thing owner, Grant Wharington, to comment: 'It was a great day; really beaut conditions.'
Wharington put the newly lengthened Wild Thing’s much anticipated first race to bed this afternoon, his 100 footer from Queensland taking line honours in the Premier Performance Class ocean passage race.
The class started off Shark Island at 11.30am in light airs that built throughout the race to 14 knots on a course that took the yachts offshore and north towards Pittwater. Wild Thing finished the course in just over two hours for fifth place overall, but it was Jack Stening’s Sydney 36, Stormaway that took first place overall from another Sydney 26, Botany Access Cocomo owned by Justin Brownbill.
'We had a great day apart from a little furling issue we had on the last gybe,' Wharington stated.
'The breeze got up to 14 knots and we got 16-17 knots boat speed out of that,' he said. 'The boat felt good – the crew are settling in well – this regatta means we’ll go to Gladstone (the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race) in pretty good shape.'
While Wharington and the rest of the class’ race was over for the day, the 25 other classes continued with up to three races for most.
Last year’s Melges 32 winner, 2 Unlimited, owned and steered by Greg Prescott, looks set to repeat his boat’s performance of last year, with three straight wins from three races, although the Tasmanian was quick to point out that the racing was extremely close.
'We had three very tight races; the tactics were to belt into the shore in all three. Apart from the close racing, we had the ferries and a ship to deal with,' Prescott said.
'We had a range of conditions which were tricky too, with the wind shifting 30 degrees between north-east and north-west,' he said of the Harbour course near Middle Harbour. The wind gradually strengthened from 8-10 knots, then 10-12, and 12-16.'
However, the surprise performer of the day was Chris Way and his new boat, Easy Tiger, Prescott saying Way, who has previously sailed Sydney 38’s and Farr 40’s, had made an easy transition to the class at only his second regatta. Way scored a trio of second places for second overall.
In the Melges 24, Warwick Rooklyn (NSW) was back on track with three straight wins after finishing a shock third at the Nationals in January. Rooklyn and his boat Bandit usually fill the top place on the podium and won the Melges 24 at the Sydney Harbour Regatta last year.
However, not all ran smoothly. On Ray Hudson’s XS Moment, a crew was hit with the boom, necessitating a trip to hospital in the ambulance, while a crew from another yacht was treated at MHYC for what is believed to be dehydration. Then Bob Cox’s Dk46, Nine Dragons, tangled with John Bacon’s MC38 Dark Star at the start of Division 1’s Race 3 of the Premier IRC Series conducted on an offshore windward/leeward course.
'They just tapped us,' said Dark Star crew David Sampson. 'It was a love kiss,' responded Nine Dragons crew and Middle Harbour Yacht Club commodore, John McCuaig.
In that division, Rob Reynolds sailed his DK46, Exile to a one and a half point lead over Paul Clitheroe’s Beneteau 45, Balance, with Leslie Green’s Ginger, the top placed MC38, in third place. Ray Roberts made his return to racing at this event, and is in fourth place after three races and just three and a half points off the lead.
In Division 2, it was Peter Sorensen’s well-sailed Philosopher’s Club to the fore again, ‘Sorro’s’ second place and two wins too much for second placed Just A Dash, owned by fellow Middle Harbour YC member, Phil Dash and Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore, Howard Piggott, both sailing Beneteau 40’s.
In an incident on another course, Out of Sight, Matt Wilkinson’s Masrm 920, through in a tack in front of the Historic 18 footer, Britannia, resulting in a man overboard, but as the story goes, Britannia rules the waves, as the latter ploughed into Out of Sight’s behind.
The Sydney 38 One-Design Nationals, which are being conducted on the same course area as the Premier IRC Series, Bruce Ferguson’s Whisper (RPAYC) is proving too good for fellow club member and ‘the boat to beat’, Mark Griffith’s Old School, three points separating the two after some extremely close racing.
Despite the help of multiple 18 foot skiff JJ Giltinan champion, Seve Jarvin, Bruce Foye’s The Goat is third, a further point behind after two days racing. Foye will be minus Jarvin tomorrow, when he returns to his Gotta Love It 7 skiff.
Marcus Blackmore made a successful foray into the former Olympic class Dragons today, and although Carl Ryves Sidewinder leads, Blackmore’s Hooligan finished the day in a good second place following a pair of second places in a class that features some hot names, such as Ryves, a past Olympian and Dragon champion, Gordon Ingate, who still steers a straight line at age 87.
The PHS classes boasted the most numbers; 57 in four spinnaker divisions and 26 in the two non-spinnaker divisions.
Their full results can be found on the official website below.
At 1.50pm, yacht crews had more than other yachts and ferries to contend with, when the cruise ship Diamond Princess chose her moment to exit the Harbour.
With over 220 boats racing in total, the Harbour was a mass of colour, especially when the four PHS divisions sailed up towards Rose Bay. Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, had a big job on his hands just working out course areas that did not interfere with each other too much.
However, Thompson and MHYC are thankful for the valuable resources and help of support clubs: CYCA, MYC, NCYC, RANSA, RPAYC, RPEYC, RSYS, SASC, and SFS, who made the job easier.
The Sydney Harbour Regatta is sponsored by leading water sports and technical apparel supplier, Helly Hansen, and supported by Sydney Ports, Robert Oatley Vineyards and Sydney City Marine.
by Di Pearson
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8:31 AM Sat 9 Mar 2013GMT
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