Bryan Thurston’s faith in his beloved Sydney 36CR This Way Up was rewarded when the yacht recorded the Division One double in last Saturday’s Ensign Race.
The gregarious Thurston and his Royal Freshwater Bay crew, renowned for their boyish enjoyment of the sport of ocean racing, were delighted when their great start and close second over the line in the hot fifteen boat fleet of IRC 1.030 to 1.080 raters was transformed into wins under both the IRC and YAH handicapping systems.
The Ensign Race is the second of four heats of the Valmadre Cup winter series, conducted by Fremantle Sailing Club on Gage Roads, the stretch of water between Fremantle and Rottnest Island.
With the moulds for the famous thirty six footer currently for sale on eBay, many (including Thurston) have been contemplating whether the design has a future as a modern IRC racer. Thurston has even talked about driving his utility from Perth to Nowra to collect the moulds - until it was pointed out to him that they might be rather too large for his Hilux.
Based on Saturday’s results, coming on top of the continued success on the East Coast of 36CRs like The Philosophers’ Club, one would have to conclude that the classic design remains a highly competitive IRC yacht – with the added bonuses of stability and a real cruising capability. Maybe Thurston’s dream has some potential?
Second place on IRC in Division One went to the Farr 30 Problem Child, skippered by Jonathon Clough, which also recorded fastest time and third on YAH. Third on IRC was awarded to skiff legend Scott Glaskin’s Foundation 36 The X Factor. Bill Henson’s C&C 115 Circa added another YAH second to lead the progressive YAH tallies from This Way Up, with Problem Child’s pair of IRC seconds enough to give it a narrow IRC lead over Anthony Kirke’s Archambault A35 Archimedes.
The highlight of the fourteen boat Division Two was the return of Ian Holder’s champion Whiting 32 Bad Habits, which immediately found a good groove to win convincingly on IRC, with Peter Hickson’s First 35 Mulberry adding the IRC second to its third in race one. Another Whiting 32, Peter Kennington’s Traffic Jam, recorded third, which when aggregated with its first in race one, is enough to lead by one point from Mulberry.
Under YAH, it was Mulberry first, from Kevin Palassis’ Farr 36 Apo Kato and the S97 Terra, skippered for the day by Red Witch and S80 veteran, Dennis Hill. Mulberry and Apo Kato, on six points, lead YAH progressive scores from Traffic Jam and Terra on nine points.
The competition was intense in the four boat Division Three fleet, which is contested only on YAH. Clodagh Irwin’s Beneteau Oceanis 33 Anastasia put in a scorching performance to record a good win to add to her second in race one. Graham Cole’s Cole 32 Double Vision was second, from Mark Trupp’s cruising sloop Chiara. Race one winner Paul Arns’ No Rehearsal incurred the wrath of the handicapper and had to settle for fastest time and fourth place.
On Division Three progressive scores, it is Anastasia leading on three points, from No Rehearsal and Double Vision locked together on five, with Chiara, which missed race one, on eight points but still in with a chance after the discard.
Tony Carter’s First 40 Just Cruisin’ appears to be marching away with the thirteen boat Division Zero IRC title after recording another first for a perfect score so far. The well-sailed cruiser-racer has competitors puzzling over how they can beat the low-rated yacht, but an examination of the boat’s all-star crew indicates that they are doing more than just turning up to win.
One of the yachts challenging Just Cruisin’s dominance is Trevor Taylor’s competitive Marten 49 Optimus Prime, which turned up the heat to lead all day and take the IRC second and fastest time. Another is Peter Ahern’s Farr 40OD Yo! 2, which added the IRC third to its second in race one. Under progressive IRC scores, Just Cruisin’ leads with two points, from Yo! 2 on five and Optimus Prime on nine – but the position is much closer after Optimus Prime’s disappointing race one seventh is discarded.
In Division Zero YAH, the 'fat’n’forty' brigade prevailed, with Robert Halvorsen’s Farr 395 Giddy Up winning from Jon Hanson’s Elan 410 Wasabi and Laurie Flynne’s Archambault A40RC Aardvark. On progressive YAH, the same three yachts are locked together in the lead, on six points, with Giddy Up favoured on count back thanks to its first place in race two.
The next race in the Valmadre Cup series is the Mayflower Race on Saturday week, 23rd July 2011. It is still possible to join the series for the final two races as a late entry by contacting Sailing Administration at Fremantle Sailing Club.