Fidelis, the line honours winner of the 1966 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, yesterday showed she is still a sprightly racing yacht at the age of 52 by winning line and handicap honours in her division of the 180th Australia Day Regatta. Skippered by her owner, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron member Nigel Stoke, she outsailed a fleet of 14 boats in the Classic non-spinnaker division for a comfortable line honours victory.
However, her winning margin over Fagel Grip (Jerry Lees) was just 11 seconds on corrected time with just over a minute more to third placegetter Sjo Ro (Jeremy Arnott).
Built in New Zealand in 1964 of triple, diagonal planked kauri to a design by Norwegian Knud Reimers, Fidelis was an immediate success in local ocean racing and in 1966 the then owner Jim Davern sailed her across the Tasman to contest the Sydney Hobart.
She set a new record elapsed time in taking line honours, and in 2006 current owner Nigel Stoke raced her to Hobart to commemorate the 40th anniversary of her line honours win in 1966.
Also racing in the Class Division 1 of yesterday’s 180th Australia Day Regatta were two former Sydney Hobart contenders which also contested the 1966 edition, David Salter’s Mister Christian and Maurie Evans’ Malohi.
Sydney Amateur Sailing Club’s honorary secretary Peter Scott sailed the gaff-rigger Cherub to victory in Classic Non Spinnaker Division 2 from John Barclay’s Reverie and Dennis Wood’s Antares.
The two Classic yacht divisions made up almost half the overall keelboat entries in the regatta, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia entrant Wld1 (Larkie Missiris) winning Division 1 spinnaker and SASC yacht Very Tasty (Al Chase) winning Division 1 non-spinnaker.
Division 2 non-spinnaker went to Midwicket (David Kinsey) while Akela (David Lamond) won from a small fleet in Division 2 spinnaker. Lindsay Brown’s venerable Folkboatg Dreamtime won Division 3 spinnaker.
For the first time, a fleet of high-performance catamarans, the F18s, racing in the Australia Day Regatta. Starting as first class, they provided an added spectacular to the regatta with C Horse (Jeremy Brookes) scoring an outright win.
In the Australia Day Regatta ocean race, from Sydney Harbour to a mark off Botany Bay and return, line honours went to the TP52 Balance, Paul Clitheroe’s overall winner of the 71st Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race last month.
On corrected time, however, first place on PHS scoring and the prestigious City of Sydney Sesquicentenary Cup went to Next Light, an X35 skippered yesterday by Mark Rutherford, one of three co-owners, the others being Chris Ryan and Derek Collins.
Co-owner Ryan arrived back from overseas just an hour too late to join the crew in yesterday’s race, sailed in a 12-18 knot ENE breeze offshore.
“The conditions suited the boat, one of only two Danish-built X35s in Australia, and the crew worked brilliantly as a team,” Ryan commented on reports from his co-owners after the traditional Australia Day Regatta ocean race to Botany Bay and return… in the wake of Captain Arthur Philip in 1788!
Rutherford, Ryan and Collins have owned Next Light for more than four years, their previous major win being a divisional victory at Hamilton Island Race Week.
Their previous boat was First Light, a Beneteau 36.7 in which they finished second in a Pittwater to Coffs Harbour and won the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s bluewater series.
“When we bought Next Light we decided to base our racing with the CYCA, to gain more experience from the high standard of competition out of Sydney Harbour,” Ryan explained.
The three owners and their crew dedicated yesterday’s City of Sydney Sesquicentenary Cup victory to former crew member Greg ‘Macca’ McIntosh, a Sydney waterways character who sailed regularly on Next Light.
‘Macca’ sailed his last race on 21 October 2014 and passed away after a brief illness on 21 November 2015. “His absence was noted by everyone aboard Next Light on Australia Day,” a crew member commented.
First Light won the PHS division of the ocean race, conducted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, from RSYS member Brian Carrick’s Peach Teats-Velocity and Merlin, skippered by Olympic gold medallist David Forbes.
Merlin also won the IRC division of the race from About Time (Julian Farren-Price) and Rolex Sydney Hobart Race winner Balance (Paul Clitheroe).
– Peter Campbell