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2023-24 Combined Club Harbour Series Race 4 Preview

by Liz Rountree 18 Jan 22:30 PST 20 January 2024
The Fork in the Road crosses Cockwomble © Michael Vincent

Teams will be shifting gears from long ocean races over the holidays to the short sprints offered this Saturday by the Combined Clubs Harbour racing series. Racing, hosted by Bellerive Yacht Club, kicks off at 1:30pm, and offers the 'Windward-Return' course for the Division 1 fleet, with a shortened geographic race around the Derwent for Divisions 2 and 3.

For Div 1, the Windward-Return style of racing offers more intense boat on boat decisions, as the small course artificially creates more traffic.

Which is why Andrew Smith's Cockwomble has entered the series. Smith and his crew are the current reigning IRC Australian Yachting Champions and are looking forward to 2025 when the event will be held here in Hobart. For large yachts like current PHS leader in the series Fork in the Road, these races are the best way to tighten crew-work.

According to Bellerive Yacht Club Vice Commodore Troy Grafton, the forecast looks tricky, "Race crews will need to keep their heads out of the boat," which is a phrase that means any team that catches the first sign of fresh wind will land on top.

Something that young Bowman Jack Harris aboard Div 1 series leader Intrigue is soaking right up.

"I'm learning so much from the crew, particularly how to read weather on the water and how to sail the boat more tactically using weather."

The learning is not just for the young(er) guns.

Just off an impressive 2nd overall in the Launceston to Hobart, Heatwave Fish Frenzy will be mixing it up this weekend. Skipper Matt Keal reports, "I have invited a few legends of the sport to sail with us. Their knowledge and experience is invaluable."

Hopefully that knowledge gives them an edge, as there are only 3 points between them in 2nd and 6th place Joint Custody in the IRC standings.

The shorter geographic courses also make for more dynamic mix-ups in the Div 2 and 3 fleets.

In Div 2 Kamehameha and Wings Three are second and third to IYKYK on ORC, and Serica leads on PHS. Results such as this prove that not only older boats (beauty of the Derwent Serica is in her 55th racing season), but older salts are just as competitive.

Innovator leads Zest in Div 3, with Joie de Vie and Astrolabe on equal points in 3rd and 4th respectively, while Hornet and Miss Conduct are not far behind.

We all started out as a young gun, surrounded by old salts. And sometimes we find ourselves as the old salt or the young gun, depending on the company of the day.

And then there's the moment of the old salt becoming a young gun because we've jumped ship. Jimmy Dodd has found himself at this fun and frustrating crossroads. Skipper of Wednesday reports that she won't be racing any more this season (she's on the market).

"Racing for me at the moment is getting to know a new boat, starting again with improving and tuning." His new steed Firefly will enter a few twilights and Winter Pennants in preparation for a full dance card next Spring.

Not all fun and games Dodd admits, "It's actually been a bit frustrating having had Wednesday so dialled in after 2 years!" All part of the fun of this life-long sport.

Although the yacht is off the roster for the remainder of the series, Dodd shouts out to Wednesday's standout crew member Hanna Phillips, also skipper in the BYC Women's Twilight Regatta.

Good luck to RO Grant Sutton and his team of volunteers to run the racing. And reminder to all the sailors to bring the right mix of gunpowder and salt.

Full Results:

Combined Clubs Hosts:

Bellerive Yacht Club * Derwent Sailing Squadron * Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania

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