Lion Island victory goes to the Victoire

Darryl Hodgkinson sailed his Cookson 50 to first place on Day 1 of Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s 37th Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship (SSORC), in the race from Sydney Harbour to Lion Island and return today.

Hodgkinson, representing the CYCA, is preparing to defend his Rolex Sydney Hobart overall crown. Saturday brought him one step closer to that dream when he defeated Steven Proud’s Swish, Bob Cox’s Nine Dragons, a DK46 and 11 others in Division 1. Victoire and Swish, a Kernan 44, finished top two in ORCi also, with Paul Clitheroe’s Balance third overall and fourth in IRC, her recent run of wins coming to a halt today.

A smiling Darryl Hodgkinson spoke for all when he said “champagne sailing,” adding, “It was a beautiful ride up – slightly cracked sheets. Coming home, we popped one of my new weapons,” a new spinnaker tested for the first time today. The Double Bay plastic surgeon said they were a “little bit lucky” to win, after selecting what he thought was the wrong sail to come home with. Fortunately, a slight change of the compass needle put them back in the picture.

“It was the most thrilling finish we’ve ever had. We got Triton (the champion LC60 formerly known as Vanguard and now owned by Michael Cranitch/David Gotze) by a bow. It was a little frightening; as we aimed for the pin end of the finish line in Watsons Bay there were three canoes right on it – I don’t know how we missed them,” he said.

Julian Farren-Price’s unstoppable Cookson 12, About Time, dominated the other 13 yachts in Division 2, beating Adrian Van Bellen’s J/122, Jackpot, by over four minutes on corrected time, and Rod Wills’ X-43, Great Xpectations by exactly eight minutes. Farren-Price also won ORCi, with Matt Bassett’s BH36 Local Hero second, and JustaDash, Phil Dash’s Beneteau First 40, third, after finishing fourth in IRC

Even though Divisions 1 and 2 are scored separately, they are on the same race course, prompting Victoire’s owner to say, “Paul Clitheroe (Balance) and I are trying to gang up on Julian – he’s an incredible sailor and very hard to beat.”

The Sydney jeweller’s About Time sailed parallel with Ian Box’s XP-44, Toy Box 2, nearly all the way to Lion Island. “There was only a piece of string between us, until they overtook us just before we got to the Island,” said Farren-Price, who later described his crew’s work and the day as “ten out of ten.”

Farren-Price and a number of others’ scores will count towards their Ocean Point Score tally in the CYCA series. He will not be on the course tomorrow, leaving the door open for others to come to the forefront, including Toy Box 2.

Initially, MHYC officials could not start the race at the appointed time, because the Harbour was glassed-out, more suited to swimming and canoeing than sailing, but 10 minutes later, at 10.10am, the nor’easter delivered 8-11 knots, allowing the fleet to aim for the mouth of the Heads in good time.

Once outside, the breeze piped in and continued to build throughout the race, basically north-east but shifting a little to the right at times. By the time the fleet turned for the finish line at Watsons Bay, a blaze of colourful kites could be seen from the Northern Beaches as breezes exceeded 15 knots.

In PHS, Walter Carpenter’s Samarkand scored a win over John Anet’s Precision and Laurence Freedman’s Espresso Forte

Seven Islands Race

Patrick Delany (Powerderchalk) took honours in the pursuit-style race which takes the fleet from the start off MHYC to many of the Harbour’s best-known islands on both sides of the bridge and back to the finish off the Club. As expected, Brian Lees was in the money too, finishing second overall with his Adams 10, Contentious, while Geoffrey Charters’ No Friends finished third.

Eleven Jeanneaus also contested the race as part of a three-race series, and as predicted in the preview, the super-competitive Ron Jacobs came out on top, with Peter McClelland’s Macscap second and Laurie McAllister’s Zeussus third.

Late this afternoon, yachties and friends were enjoying a few well-earned drinks and a barbecue on the beach at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, while a band was tuning up, preparing the troops to let their hair down this evening.

Racing in the SSORC concludes tomorrow with a short passage race followed by a windward/leeward race which will decide the winners.

Middle Harbour Yacht Club thanks it sponsors and supporters: Helly Hansen, Sydney City Marine, Two Rivers Hunter Valley Wines, and Key Sun Zinke.

Full results, photos and all information will be available at: www.ssorc.mhyc.com.au

Di Pearson, MHYC Media

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