Shorthanded Sailing Association of Australia's (SSAA) first race of the 2012 Winter Series was held on Saturday 14th April. Seven yachts were in Hunter Bay for the 10 am start.
There were two solo challengers – Bruce McKay on Wasabi and John Davies on Avanti, four yachts two-handed – First Light with Sue Rice and daughter Anna, David Mandelberg and Peter McCorquodale on Tanami, Bruce Watson and Iain Salteri on Imalizard and Doug Cuming and Tim Shipton on the only multihull, Voodoo Spirit. Peter Mooney and Henry Paterson had a third on board Endorphin for the race – Peter Frame, who spent at least some of his time taking the photos that accompany this article!
There was quite a cross section of designs, including four very different 40 footers. Wasabi and Imalizard both designed with the 2007 Melbourne to Osaka race in mind – both water-ballasted with big powerful rigs, Wasabi designed by Jon Sayer and Imalizard by Hugh Welbourn. Then there is First Light a great example of Joe Adams designs. And then there is Tanami designed by Peter Cole from the lines of the 5.5 metre Barrenjoey, built of timber, and a very different design philosophy from the other competitors.
A very light nor-westerly at the start allowed the fleet to drift out of Hunter Bay and towards the Heads, like a game of Snakes and Ladders as the breeze would fill in and one or another yacht would take the lead. The fleet drifted out to sea as the RSYS Squadron Cruise fleet motored past. Finally the nor-easter started to fill in, and that was pretty much the last we saw of Voodoo Spirit as she powered south under spinnaker.
This year the course was to a virtual mark, just south of Botany Bay in Bate Bay. Voodoo Spirit was first 'around', followed by Wasabi who was doing an amazing job given he had no autopilot. Third was Imalizard then Endorphin, Tanami, Avanti and First Light.
The work back up to the finish in the Harbour was quite a challenge for some – Wasabi having to take longer legs rather than short-tacking because of the lack of autopilot, which allowed Endorphin to overtake her. Imalizard had a few issues, such as jib cars exploding and water ballast in both sides at the same time, which let Avanti through. Behind all this Tanami and First Light were having a great battle, eventually rounding Hornby Light together, and dead heating across the line.
So Line Honours went to Voodoo Spirit from Endorphin and Wasabi. On SSAA handicap Tanami was first from Voodoo Spirit and Avanti. On PHS Wasabi was first from Voodoo Spirit and Tanami.
Next SSAA race is the Pittwater to Newcastle race on Saturday 19th May.
by Peter McCorquodale
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8:12 AM Tue 17 Apr 2012GMT
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