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Matador takes third Pallas Capital Gold Cup Act

by Nic Douglass 28 Apr 03:20 PDT 26-28 April 2024
Quest on a mission during Pallas Capital Gold Cup Act 3 © Nic Douglass for @sailorgirlHQ

The Australian TP52 fleet returned to action at Sail Port Stephens for Act 3 of the Pallas Capital Gold Cup. Eleven boats took to the waters surrounding Nelson Bay and completed the series of six races.

The TP52s also formed Division One of the NSW IRC State Championships, resulting in both the primary TPR and IRC handicapping systems being hotly contested.

Act 3 of the Pallas Capital Gold Cup marks the second half of the series and David Doherty's Matador, series leader after the first two Acts, was for the first time under serious pressure going into the final day, with Craig Neil's Quest on equal points. Matador rose to the occasion and took their third win from as many events on TPR by two points over Quest, with Seb Bohm's Smuggler pushing up to third overall.

On IRC, Marcus Blackmore's Hooligan took the top honours, with Matador in second, and Geoff Boettcher's Secret Men's Business rounding out the podium in the IRC NSW Championship.

The regatta had a full mix of conditions and course configurations, from breezy and lumpy conditions from the south on day one with three windward leewards, a mix of drainage westerly and easterly for the Passage Race on day two, and a beautiful northeasterly sea breeze to finish off the regatta with two windward leewards on day three.

Friday's three windward-leeward races were offshore from Cabbage Tree Island. Race one was a two nautical mile beat in a shifty 15 to 18 knot breeze. Most boats were caught in a battle at the boat end, which proved to be futile, with the breeze pivoting left some 30 degrees on the first beat. Gordon Ketelbey's Zen got away cleanly in the middle of the line, as did Mark Spring's Highly Sprung, and Smuggler which put them in contention at the top mark.

Hooligan made the most of the left hand shift and were the early leaders on line honours. With the breeze shifting further left, the Race Committee reset the course for the second work from 325 degrees to 220 degrees, just to starboard of Cabbage Tree Island, which split the breeze. Overall, the rich got richer on the left hand side of the track.

Race two was set to 185, to the left of Cabbage Tree as the breeze settled in the south. A strongly pin favoured line had a less bunched fleet heading straight into the building wave state. Geoff Boettcher's Secret Men's Business (SMB) was first to tack onto port and came back on an early right shift to dig themselves out of the pack.

Race three was the second in a row where Quest shone in the breezier conditions, taking back to back second places on TPR.

"We were fast but created some problems for ourselves," owner/skipper David Doherty said of their day, despite taking three wins from three races.

"We fought back. It was really choppy, with big shifts, but we can pretty well change our modes now to meet the conditions. And we certainly had some things go our way tactically."

Day two saw a significant change to conditions for the passage race. The line was split with the boat end tending east southeast, and the pin end tending west southwest, each seeing four to five knots. Shortly after the start the pin end starters found themselves caught in a hole, as did Matador who opted for a conservative start and headed off the boat towards the Islands in an attempt to use the remaining westerly. Celestial and Hooligan went offshore searching for breeze, and led at the Boughton Island turning mark when the southerly filled in from offshore.

"It felt like a punishment but our navigator Alex Nolan was confident it was the right way to go, and our tactician David Chapman agreed," skipper Sam Haynes said of their tactic to start at the boat and head offshore.

Michael Martin's Frantic had a fantastic race, leading significantly higher rated boats around the course, and having their best finish so far in the Pallas Capital Gold Cup.

"It's a pleasure to sail against a lot of good crews, professional crews that train and do all that sort of stuff. So it's not too bad for a Corinthian crew, with an old boat", said Martin.

Hooligan eventually ran down Celestial to take line honours for the shortened course just off Yacaaba Head and the mouth to Port Stephens. Quest had a massive comeback to take the win on TPR, and to equal the overall lead for the regatta. Matador had their worst result of the Pallas Capital Gold Cup to date, which left them tied with Quest for points heading into the final day.

There was an early change up on the morning of day three, from racing inshore to pushing offshore again, with the hope of a north-easterly sea breeze coming to play.

Race five started in a building breeze shifting from the west to the northeast. The 1.6 nautical mile course started at 030, but the shift saw it moved to 045 for the second lap. With overall points on TPR and IRC tight it was an anxious start line with a heavily crowded boat end, which resulted in SMB being squeezed out. Also losing out were Zen and Hooligan, called over the line early by the Race Committee.

Matador and Quest made the most of their clean starts and pushed each other into the race lead in their battle for the TPR overall trophy. Behind them SMB continued to show their strong form with a third place across the line, a big recovery after their start.

Quest and Matador were glued together during the start sequence of race six, which was set at 050 degrees, with a leg length of 1.8nm in the building easterly. Matador secured a fourth, ahead of Quest in fifth to secure their third Act win on TPR.

Hooligan were launched at the start, and were never headed, taking the line honours win, as well as third on TPR in the final race, and securing their IRC NSW Championship.

"It's very hard to do", said owner/driver of Quest, Craig Neil on beating Matador. "It was a few seconds in that last race, and we would have been even I think, but yeah, it's a few seconds. That just shows how close the racing really is".

Results can be found here.

All eyes will be on the final event of the Pallas Capital Gold Cup which will be sailed out of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club inside Pittwater on 18-19 May.

For more head to the TP52Aus Facebook page.

Thanks to sponsors Pallas Capital and Zhik for their support.

More about the TPR rule.

Full crew lists and more information on the TP52 Aus Website.

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