Leslie Green and his Ginger crew from Sydney have taken out the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron hosted MC38 Harbour Regatta by the narrowest margin from the lone New Zealand entry, Howard Spencer’s Menace, on Sydney Harbour this afternoon.
One point behind the Kiwis after four races were completed yesterday, ex-dentist Green scraped home by the skin of his teeth, finishing on equal points with Howard Spencer’s Kiwi entry, Menace following the final three races today.
The Kiwis lodged protests against Ginger in Race’s 5 and 7 involving overlapping incidents. Ginger lost the first to be disqualified from Race 5, but survived the second, from which Menace was disqualified.
Winemaker Chris Hancock’s Vino, representing Hamilton Island Yacht Club, finished third overall, two points behind the top two after benefitting from the protests. It was not all plain sailing though; as the well-named Vino was caught short a couple of times by wineglasses in spinnakers, prompting wry comments from rivals about wine on board.
All competitors had their chances, but it was hard going in the gusty and shifty 18-25 knot south/south-westerlies which caused minor damage. It was a day for staying one hundred percent alert as every little mistake proved costly.
“I enjoyed the strong winds, especially sailing these exciting boats,” said a smiling Green, Ginger’s Octogenarian owner. “The racing is so close and exciting; that’s what I love about this class.
“I feel we are well-prepared for the Australian Championship and we’re looking forward to it,” he added of the next MC38 event, to be held in conjunction with Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in mid-August.
Ginger crossed the finish line first in Race 5, which opened racing today. Her subsequent disqualification meant Vino moved into the winner’s circle, with Ghost Rider second and Menace third. Ghost Rider was locked out of the start and lost a lot of ground, but superior windward boat speed allowed her to round the top mark first.
Spencer and his crew struggled somewhat in that race, being boxed in by both Ginger and Vino on various stages of the track. They could not catch a break.
In the gusty Race 6, however, the Kiwis did not put a foot wrong; spinnaker sets and drops were flawless and tacks clean. Their diligence translated to a one minute 26 second win over Ginger, with Assassin, owned by the newest fleet owner, Robin Crawford in third.
The Menace crew, including America's Cup pros Ray Davies and James Dagg, will be dangerous at the World’s to be held on their own waters in October, and hosted by the Royal Akarana Yacht Club, where Menace calls home.
Ginger won Race 7, while Assassin moved up to second place and Vino third, after Menace was disqualified and Ghost Rider suffered spinnaker problems, losing her a lot of ground.
Assassin had problems throughout the series, but her third and second places gave Crawford, who has been out of competitive sailing nearly 16 years, some comfort. “I’m learning to sail the boat,” he said.
Three windward/leeward races decided the winner today after four races, including a tough Harbour Passage course were completed yesterday.
All took their chances but mistakes and damage robbed some. Fourth placed Ross Hennessy (Ghost Rider) looked close to stealing the limelight a few times, but mistakes and damage cost him. “You win some, you lose some. It was practice for the Australian Championship, so better we learn from our mistakes here,” a philosophical Hennessy said.
Full results: http://www.rsys.com.au/index.php/sailing/results
– Di Pearson, MC38 media