Tomorrow, Saturday, 3 September 2011 will mark the opening of the 149th season of racing on Sydney Harbour by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, with strong fleets in all divisions and classes expected to line up for sailing in a moderate to fresh breeze.
More than 100 yachts have been nominated for the summer season of Saturday club racing that the Squadron has conducted with great dignity and proficiency since 1862.
Next year the Squadron will celebrate its the 150th anniversary with a range of special events, ashore and afloat, with the racing program including world championships for the International Yngling and International Etchells classes.
The Yngling worlds will be held on the Harbour from 3-8 January 2012 the Etchells Worlds on the Manly Circle from 18-25 February 2012. Strong entries from overseas are expected for both regattas.
The Notice of Race for the 2012 Etchells world championship have just been released, with Regatta Director David Sturrock commenting: 'It is only appropriate that Sydney and the Squadron host the worlds in 2012 as it will be the sesquicentenary of the Yacht Squadron and this event will bring the best yachtsmen in the world to Australia.'
Tomorrow, the Squadron will start four divisions of racer/cruiser yachts, ranging from Hood 23s up to former ocean racers such as the 60-footer Sydney, and three one-design classes, for the Etchells, Dragon and Yngling classes.
Division 1 has attracted 17 entries, including several boats new to the division, including Philip Grove’s Sydney 39CR Huntress, Peter Lowndes’ Lyons 49 Wine-Dark Sea, and Peter Davenport’s new Dufour 405, Arcturus III, although this boat will not be racing for about four weeks.
Division 2 has got a new lease of life, with the J35s that previously raced in Division 1, Soundtrack (John Amos) and Ambitious (David Matthews) moving to this division and being joined by several new boats, including a new Senta II, with owners Terry and Julie Clarke moving up a division with their new boat, a Beneteau First 35.
Joining the always competitive Division 3 will be Hole Gale, a Beneteau First 27 skippered by Paul Harris.
Division 4 again has a good line-up of smaller boats, with the regulars being joined by Cheryn Croker in her Compass 29 Daydream. This is Cheryn’s first venture into Saturday racing after competing in the Squadron’s ladies’ midweek program.
Saturday week will see the first qualifying heats for the Etchells Worlds, with a three race offshore regatta on the Manly Circle, the first heat of the Dragon Gold Cup and the first Short Ocean Pointscore as part of Sydney Amateur Sailing Club’s Lion Island Race.
The Dragon fleet includes a brand new Ridgeway boat, built in Tasmania for former Squadron Commodore Norman Longworth and named Tom Thumb III. Longworth is expected to be a number of Squadron-base Dragons heading for Hobart in the New Year for the prestigious Prince Philip Cup.