In Sydney Harbour the second Ocean Passage race of the 32nd Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship got away at midday in a gusty westerly and finished in a sea breeze, Paul Clitheroe's Beneteau 45 Balance scoring the IRC and PHS overall win in the two-race series.
“It was a good outing for us. The 12-20 knot range and into the wind is the definitely this boat's sweet spot,” said the winning skipper this afternoon.
It's the second victory for Clitheroe after scoring divisional honours at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August, the boat's debut regatta.
Balance beat Bill Ebsary's well sailed Beneteau First 44.7 Le Billet in both the IRC and PHS divisions, robbing Ebsary of the chance at a fourth win on the trot in this Championship.
Clitheroe aptly described today's conditions as “odd”, the fleet of nearly 30 starting in a brisk westerly, running into the sea breeze at the laid mark, another westerly as they entered the harbour and up to Sow and Pigs and a sou'wester on the other side of the navigational marks.
Today's conditions also made it technically a very difficult day for the race committee, Principal Race Officer John Hurley admitting it was hard to make decisions let alone the right ones. “While they weren't typical summer conditions, they do exist and we just had to get on with racing”.
After starting in a building westerly, which produced a number of round ups as crews struggled to hold onto their spinnakers in the gusts funnelling through the heads, the fleet was sent to a laid mark eight nautical miles on a 130 degree bearing.
“We got half the race in in good upwind downwind conditions with variable reaching and running for the remainder,” said Hurley.
Hurley thanked the huge team of volunteers both on water and ashore for their assistance, and the support of the combined clubs, which provided logistical support to this year's Championship.
– Lisa Ratcliffe