In last year’s opening Ocean Point Score race to Lion Island and return, Shane Guanaria skippered Julian Farren-Price’s About Time to a line and overall win, only having to retire after sailing the wrong course – but her owner made sure the mistake did not occur twice, and his care paid off when the Cookson 12 was declared overall winner of that race today.
This evening, after a long day on the water, Farren-Price said of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s race: “There was no way that was going to happen again. I checked the Sailing Instructions carefully and put the mark in the GPS plotter so we wouldn’t miss it.”
The Sydney jeweller has won the last four consecutive OPS races and an incredible seven of the last eight series – both undisputed records. Today he overcame line honours winner, Balance, which finished second overall, and Steven Proud’s third placed Kernan 44, Swish. There was seven minutes overall between the top two and a further five minutes to Swish.
Farren-Price has owned his Cookson 12 for close to 15 years and has been unable to find a better boat to replace her, so instead put a new rig in About Time. “It cost nearly half as much as the boat – but it was worth it – we were smoking today,” he said.
The yachtsman said he was surprised to do so well, “Because the breeze was so light and we thought we’d get an east/nor-easter, so I chose the eastern side of the Harbour and blew it, because all the pressure was on the west side.”
Leaving the Harbour, About Time headed further to sea than the rest and made gains. “We made up time coming back into the Harbour too; the breeze increased to 16-17 knots to the finish. My crew, most of whom have been with me for around 10 years, put their heads down and worked so hard to make up the lost time,” Farren-Price said.
“It’s a very nice way to start the season,” he added.
Paul Clitheroe sailed his TP52 Balance to line honours at 15.51.20 hours, shortly after the last boat in the fleet was rounding the Lion Island mark off Pittwater. The ‘Money Man’ was not aboard today, but claimed from Moonah Links Golf Course on the Mornington Peninsula: “I played a lousy game of golf, but I made a magnificent contribution to our line honours victory today.”
Sailmaker Bruce Hollis skippered Balance to a great start under spinnaker in an unstable ultra-light breeze. Darryl Hodgkinson’s Cookson 50, Victoire was away best though, carrying the breeze down the Harbour and away from the fleet. Balance and Tony Kirby’s Patrice were in pursuit. The rest were struggling to keep air in their kites, so were left behind.
By the time the fleet reached Sow and Pigs, Victoire’s luck ran out, as Balance mowed her down. “We pantsed Kirkjian and Greeny,” Hollis said, referring to Victoire's helmsman Sean Kirkjian and tactician, Mike Green.
“Browny (Adam Brown) placed us beautifully and we sneaked around Victoire. The change to the north-east favoured us massively. It was like a game of cards; you had to play the hand you were dealt.
“Fortunately, we didn’t look back and nobody overtook us, although Victoire took some time out of us on the run home,” Hollis admitted, saying the most the north-easter could breathe out on the way to Lion Island was 6-8 knots.
The light breeze looked to be playing into the hands of the big boats from outset, but did an about face, pumping in to bring the smaller boats home quickly. The sea breeze reached 10 knots as Balance arrived back in Sydney Harbour just after 3.00pm, and continued to increase.
“It was a long but perfect day to be sailing – and a perfect result,” Julian Farren-Price said.
Sixteen yachts contested the Lion Island Race. Richard Barron’s Beneteau First 40, Willyama, brought the race to an end when she crossed the Rushcutters Bay finish at 18.19.22 hours this evening.
The nine-race OPS series continues on Saturday October 25 with the Botany Bay Race, starting at 10.00am on Sydney Harbour.
By Di Pearson, CYCA Event Media