• Matt Allen at the helm of Ichi Ban. Photo Andrea Francolini, ABRW.
    Matt Allen at the helm of Ichi Ban. Photo Andrea Francolini, ABRW.
  • Weapon of Choice. Photo Saltwater Images.
    Weapon of Choice. Photo Saltwater Images.
  • Balance duking it out with Old School at the Sydney Harbour Regatta last year. Photo Andrea Francolini/SHR.
    Balance duking it out with Old School at the Sydney Harbour Regatta last year. Photo Andrea Francolini/SHR.
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Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s 2016 Sydney Harbour Regatta is just 10 days away and over 150 boat owners have pledged their support for the 11th running of the autumn event, among them some high profile names.

Winner of the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart and the 2015 Blue Water Pointscore, Paul Clitheroe and his Balance are on a winning streak, so will come to the Regatta, to be held over the weekend of 5-6 March, as the boat to beat in the Open Class (IRC and ORCi).

Clitheroe’s TP52 underlined her ability on the weekend, breaking the Sydney Newcastle race record and taking out every category in the race: line honours and overall wins under IRC, ORCi and PHS, leaving the crumbs for her opponents. 

However, Paul Clitheroe believes otherwise, with the likes of Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, the undisputed star performer at Airlie Beach Race Week and the CYCA Trophy in 2015. Allen owns the former Shogun V, which is highly regarded as the best regatta boat around. Add Ichi Ban’s impeccable crew work, and she will be almost impregnable. 

“Ichi Ban is very fast downwind, and while we have a good boat, I can guarantee our crew work won’t bel flawless like Ichi Ban’s,” Clitheroe said with laughter. “This is an excellent regatta and it will be challenging for us. Our program is set up around offshore racing, and I don’t believe we’ve done any short course racing since Sail Port Stephens last year,” said Clitheroe, adding they would find time to get a practice day in before the event.

“We’re really looking forward to the Sydney Harbour Regatta.  I’m looking forward to having a barbecue back at Middle Harbour after racing – instead of being on the ocean at night eating cardboard food,” he said. “I don’t have high expectations. Win, lose or draw, we’ll be happy."

A third TP52, Koa, was purchased by Andy Kearnan and Peter Wrigley late last year. With some miles under their belts now, Koa should be competitive. Other major regatta winners in for the series, to be sailed on windward/leeward courses, include The Goat (Sebastian Bohm/Bruce Foye) and The Philosopher’s Club (Peter Sorensen).    

New to the regatta is the NSW IRC Inter Club Challenge, for which Middle Harbour Yacht Club will naturally nominate a home team. Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club has shown its enthusiasm for the inaugural Challenge by nominating two teams and MHYC Commodore, John McCuaig, has invited the other clubs to submit teams. 

The VX-One class will once again hold its NSW Championship at the Sydney Harbour Regatta. Andrew York returns with Speedwagon to defend his title. Runner-up, Fred Kasparek, also returns from Canberra with his ‘Weapon of Choice’.

In all, the Regatta is open to 21 classes, many of them one-design, which will make for spectacular racing – and viewing, as they take over Sydney Harbour for the weekend.

Prize Presentation and Prizes

All winning yachts will be entered into a prize draw for the major prizes, to be drawn on Monday 7th March:

1st prize – two Sydney to Auckland return tickets, donated by Air New Zealand plus two nights’ accommodation 

2nd Prize – Voucher for $1000 to be used at Sydney City Marine

3rd Prize – Two tickets to MHYC Vivid Cruise on Sydney Harbour in June 2016 plus a Wine Lover’s Pack (six assorted wines)

Divisional winners and placegetters will receive sailing gear from Helly Hansen and wine from Robert Oatley’s Vineyards at the official prize presentation.

On Sunday, following racing, a lucky door prize of $1800 worth of superior Helly Hansen sailing gear will be drawn. The winner must be present to receive the prize

Entry to the Sydney Harbour Regatta closed on Monday, but organisers will accept late entries, which attracts a late entry fee.

MHYC thanks: the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Manly Yacht Club, RANSA, Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Sydney Amateur Sailing Club and the Sydney Flying Squadron for their continuing support.

Thanks also to sponsors Helly Hansen, Trina Solar, Sydney City Marine, Robert Oatley Vineyards, Rocks Brewing, Air New Zealand and Travelview Cruiseview for their continued support of the Sydney Harbour Regatta.

For all information on the Sydney Harbour Regatta go to: www.shr.mhyc.com.au/

By Di Pearson, MHYC media

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