By Lisa Ratcliff/OCC
The Beneteau Pittwater Cup sailed last Saturday attracted 31 class yachts of various sizes to the annual Sydney northern beaches fray.
Two Beneteaus were so keen to make the start line there was a port/starboard incident prior to leaving the dock and eventual spinnaker division winner, Gerry Hatton’s First 40.7, Bushranger, pulled up fenders and left the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club minus a headsail.
“We took about 300 kilos of cruising stuff off the boat, but we were so keen to get to the start we realised we’d taken the sails off as well and had to go back,” confessed heavyweight tactician Michael Fountain.
He attributed their win to the combination of “a light boat and a good start with new sails, which saw us basically able to stay in front of the pack for most of the race.
“While they were fighting it out behind us we were in clean air having a great match race with Le Billet,” added Fountain. He also paid tribute to owner/driver, Gerry Hatton, for being “good enough to concentrate for two and a half hours in tough conditions”.
The fleet set off upwind from their start line near Scotland Island to Lion Island in an 8-10 knot northerly, which spun from the north west through to north east and back again.
The non-spinnaker division led the charge up to Lion Island, John Dorling’s First 40.7, Adios, doing just that, farewelling its contemporaries.
“We put our win down to a great start, and being able to pick the shifts up the first work. It was a typical day on Pittwater with big holes,” said Dorling, who also sails Etchells on Sydney Harbour.
“I thought the winner had to have a sponsor on board so I don’t know how we got the trophy,” he joked.
Three Beneteaus were hammered at Lion Island, Bob Southerton’s First 50, Bulrush, Brendan Hunt’s First 42s7, Agnes, and David Mason’s Wauquiez 45, Europa, parking up and being forced indignantly to watch the fleet sail by while they sat in the no-go zone of outgoing tide and NW versus NE wind.
With the breeze on the way out, Beneteau’s Pittwater agent, Shane Crookshanks, made the sensible call to shorten the course, adopting a somewhat non-traditional method of finishing a race fleet by cruising up through them calling out from his Beneteau powerboat.
Crookshanks had more to add to this version of events, “the word is that some fridges were running low so a few boats motored home early to get the good parking spots. This would have been very bad for crew morale.”
Mark Waterhouse and Mark Tindel’s First 44.7, Le Billet, was declared line honours winner in the spinnaker division while Dorling and his crew collected the double, the non-spinnaker line honours and overall divisional win.
Proudly and with a full fridge, Richard Fleck’s Oceanis 37, Scuffy, was the last boat to finish the nine mile course on an overcast but mild Sydney autumn day.
That evening at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, yachting supremo Rob Brown emceed the traditional après function and presentation of trophies to divisional placegetters and awarding of novelty prizes.
Results spinnaker -
1st First 40.7 Bushranger, Gerry Hatton
2nd First 44.7 Le Billet, Mark Tindel and Mark Waterhouse
3rd First 40 Alibi, Barry Jackson
Results non-spinnaker -
1st First 40.7 Adios, John Dorling
2nd First 40.7 Mutley, Barry Irwin
3rd Oceanis 50 The Waughship, Barry Waugh
Thank you to all the sponsors who provided fabulous prizes to the Beneteau crews: JL Lennard, Zanussi, Sunzapper, Club Marine, Wild Oats Wine, Covervision, Raymarine, Skipper a Clipper, European Yacht Services, Sailtime, Harken, North Sails, Lewmar, Quantum Sails, Bob Sims Diving, Hood Sails and the RPAYC.
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