A steady consolidation and playing the numbers game for the season’s second half has seen Robin and Clare Crawford’s MC38 Assassin climb into bed with the top ranked crews and today on Sydney Harbour they took out ‘boat of the day’ at the MC38 Open Regatta.
Following jockey Michelle Payne’s remarkable Melbourne Cup win less than two weeks’ ago, sporting journalists have sought parallels between horse racing and other sports where men and women compete on equal terms. On a damp and very grey spring day in Sydney the MC38 class’ only woman helm showed sailing is one of those rare sports.
Two wins from three starts for Assassin’s amateur team up against Australian MC38 champions and America’s Cup sailors and national and world champions in various classes shuffled the typical finish order.
“Once you are out in front everything’s easy,” an ecstatic Crawford, daughter of the boat’s owner Robin, said back at the host Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron this evening. Good placement and taking a gamble paid off in race two and their second bullet she felt they earned even more.
Assassin’s tactician Evan Walker spoke highly of all the crew but singled out Clare then Alex Gough from North Sails’ Brisbane loft for special mention for his strategic input.
A fracas between Leslie Green’s Ginger and John Bacon’s Dark Star in the opening race also rearranged the scores. Dark Star took the heavy hit of a DNF, or Did Not Finish, after Bacon’s Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club crew rightly completed a penalty turn on the wrong side of the finish line then unwittingly failed to return and go through the line again in order to finish properly.
Consistent placings put Howard Spencer’s Kiwi campaign on Menace in to second, a point off Assassin, and Ginger is third in the overall standings after a tricky day one outing for the class’ season curtain-closer.
Menace’s tactician Ray Davies acknowledged their primary goal is to win the MC38 Season Championship they lead by a point, though they’d love to win the deciding event as well. “The competition was pretty fierce out there and the venue was tricky given the harbour traffic and wind shifts. The cloud cover meant an unsteady breeze, which is a good leveller.”
The highest profile sailor in the MC38 contest and part of Emirates Team New Zealand America’s Cup effort paid tribute to the top tier newcomer: “Assassin had a clean day and after some very smart sailing they thoroughly deserve boat of the day. They’ve got a good roll on,” Davies praised.
There’s more than a weekend regatta trophy up for grabs for the trio in with a shot at taking out the inaugural Season Championship – Menace, Dark Star and Ginger. Ginger in particular played hardball out on the track, picking up two penalties from the all-seeing on-water umpires.
Swirling sou’easterlies up to 12 knots slowly faded over the course of the afternoon and when thunderstorm activity played further havoc with the late afternoon breeze, RSYS Principal Race Officer Rob Ridley in consultation with umpires Richard Slater and David Tallis decided not to proceed with the fourth race.
All owners agreed with an earlier start tomorrow of 11am to try and complete the full seven race schedule. The Bureau of Meteorology’s closed waters forecast for Sunday November 15, 2015 is southerly winds 15-20 knots and a 70% chance of showers.
MC38 Open Results Overall (Scratch)
Pos Pts Name R 1 R 2 R 3
1 8.0 Assassin 6.0 1.0 1.0
2 9.0 Menace 3.0 2.0 4.0
3 11.0 Ginger 1.0 5.0 5.0
4 12.0 Dark Star 7.0 3.0 2.0
5 12.0 Hooligan 5.0 4.0 3.0
6 15.0 Vino 2.0 6.0 7.0
7 17.0 Ghost Rider 4.0 7.0 6.0
– Lisa Ratcliff