Entry to this year’s Ensign Yachts Beneteau Cup and French Yacht Challenge, to be held over the weekend of first and October 2nd 2011, closes on Friday 16th September.
by Tracey Johnstone
Organised by the Queensland Beneteau Owners Group and hosted by Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, the annual regatta is being held off Manly and is open to monohull French-built yachts.
The two day low-pressure regatta gives French yacht owners the chance to participate in an event with a pleasant mix of racing and socialising. For those skippers who don’t normally race their yacht, the weekend event gets them into racing mode for just a few days of fun on the water.
In the French Yacht Challenge last year's winner, Michael Schmidt's Jeanneau 32 footer Flight Deck, will be on the start line and hoping to successfully defend his title.
Returning this year and looking to move up to first place in the Beneteau Cup is Mark Hipgrave’s 36 footer, The Healer. Beaten last year by Gary McCarthy’s First 34.7, Brilliant Pearl, Hipgrave plans to bring out the big guns against the Brilliant Pearl team.
'A couple of months ago I bought a new Ullman mainsail and number three headsail which I am very happy with. I think they will make the difference for us,' Hipgrave said.
He also admits he has thought a lot about his mistake with the spinnaker hoist in the second race of the second day which may have cost The Healer team the regatta. 'Last year I packed the spinnaker wrongly and then hauled it up side-ways. I have now re-labelled the corners of the spinnakers with heavy black Texta and I plan to give extra special attention making sure I don’t get the corners mixed up when I am packing the bag.'
McCarthy promises to bring with him his race-ready team from Mooloolaba most of whom have just raced with McCarthy at the Airlie Beach and Magnetic Island Race weeks.
The Matrix lining up for the start - Ensign Yachts QLD Beneteau Cup - Tracey Johnstone ©
The largest entry is likely to be the First 50, The Matrix, owned by Dave Waller and Jane Virtue. The team were happy to finish fifth in the Performance Racing Division 1 in last month’s Hamilton Island Race Week after a dramatic time getting to the regatta and then encountering very heavy conditions. 'Our Hamilton campaign very nearly came to an end two days before the regatta when we hit a whale in the Lindeman Island Passage. We anchored as soon as we could and on inspection discovered the damage to the keel was not as bad as we thought.
'We were then a bit overawed by the regatta in the beginning and didn’t come to terms with the tidal patterns. However as we settled down we relished the strong winds and our crew training program paid off with two very good windward return races on the second last day,' Virtue said.
The team, while keen to compete in the Queensland Beneteau Cup and ensure line honours victory in all three races, have will busy over the next few weeks getting the boat fully checked out for possible residual damage from the encounter with the whale.
The format for this year’s event will be the Ensign Yachts French Yacht Challenge on Saturday with one passage race. Then the second part of the Beneteau Cup will be on Sunday with two short races. Racing will be under PHS with entrants nominating for the spinnaker or the non-spinnaker division.
The Notice of Race and online entry is available from the event website, www.sailing.rqys.com.au
For more information, please contact event organiser, Jane Virtue on firstname.lastname@example.org
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8:48 PM Thu 8 Sep 2011 GMT
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