March 07: News

Australia Day regatta

Australia Day in Sydney went off with a bang and with glorious weather as many celebrated the occasion on the Harbour. Hundreds of Sydney sailors, their crews, friends and families celebrated as their forebears have done each year since 1837 ‘ by competing in the 171st Australia Day Regatta on the Harbour on 26 January 2007.

They enjoyed a wonderful day of competitive sailing on a hot and sunny day, tempered on the harbour by Sydney’s summer sea breeze ‘ a nor’easter of 10-15 knots, gusting to 20 knots as the fleet close-reached to the finish line.

Of the 86 yachts competing in 11 divisions of the 171st Australia Day Regatta, again sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, all but one boat completed the course as the regatta got under way following the spectacular RAAF F-18 flyover, a Surf Ski race, the Ferrython, the Tall Ships Race and the Army parachute drop into Farm Cove.

The fleet of yachts in the short ocean race to Botany Bay and return for the City of Sydney Sesquicentenary Cup, made a spectacular sight as they swept back into the Harbour under spinnaker towards their finish line in Rushcutters Bay.

Hundreds more dinghies, skiffs and catamarans raced in special Australia Day Regattas on Botany Bay, Lake Illawarra, Pittwater, Lake Macquarie, Manly and on the Lane Cove River.

‘It has been a brilliant day on Sydney Harbour ‘ a vast array of on-the-water and in-the-air activities, and a great fleet of racing boats ranging from historical skiffs to state-of-the-art grand prix racing yachts,’ commented John Jeremy, chairman of the 171st Australia Day Regatta management committee from aboard the Flagship, HMAS Manoora.

A feature of the Harbour fleet was the number of classic yachts competing ‘ gaff-riggers such as Ranger and Redpa, historical skiffs such as Britannia, and International 5.5 metre class yachts including Pam and Baragoola which once sailed for Olympics.

Winners on the day included famous Irish yachtsman Harold Cudmore at the helm of The Mistake, a historic 18 foot skiff and with an iconic Australian monikder, Gumleaf, skippered by Orion Alderton. In the larger racing division CYCA Commodore Geoff Lavis's SBS Wild Thing won and in Division 2, Greg Mason’s Davidson 37 Sinewave won a fine claret jug recently donated to the Australia Day Regatta by the Davidson Family. Line honours and the Geoff Lee Trophy went Dick Cawse’s 60-footer Vanguard in a fast elapsed time of 3 hours 25 minutes 13 seconds, also winning the IRC division of the CYCA Ocean Pointscore. The PHS Division of the Ocean Pointscore saw a win for Occasional Coarse Language, Warwick Sherman’s Cookson 12. The Sesquicentenary Cup went to Rick Fielding’s Elliott 1050 Spearhead as the yacht with the lowest PHS corrected time in the Botany Bay Race.

America’s Cup
The AC is drawing to its climax this year with the last of the challenger series, the Louis Vuitton Cup on April 16 and the finals starting on June 23. The challengers race in the Louis Vuitton Cup, to earn the right to face Alinghi, the Swiss defender. The team has just taken delivery of its second new boat, SUI 100 to defend the 32nd America’s Cup. It arrived in Valencia, Spain where the finals take place. Other teams are already sailing their second boats. Team Shosholoza began sailing in January after the South Africans returned to Valencia following an extended Christmas break. Since the team last sailed from Port America's Cup, RSA 83, the first new America's Cup Class boat built for the 32nd America's Cup, has undergone a major refit. This was the plan settled on by the team as an alternative to building a second new boat. Shosholoza struggled initially with RSA 83 when it first raced in the opening Louis Vuitton Acts of 2005. But by the end of the season, the team was enjoying its first victories at the Cup. And by last season, Shosholoza had leapt off the bottom of the table to finish mid-fleet in seventh place, a vast improvement over the previous years. With RSA 83 re-configured, the team will be hoping to continue that upward trajectory.

Velux Leg 2
Kiwi skipper Graham Dalton was forced onto home soil to replace contaminated food stores during the leg that departed on Fremantle January 14 and fellow competitor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston inverted his yacht at the eve of the start to clear a rope from the propeller. The New Zealand solo skipper racing his Open 50 A Southern Nan Agd in the Velux 5 Oceans pulled into the port of Bluff, at the southern-most point of the South Island. Dalton was forced to make the unwanted pit stop after he discovered that one of his diesel tanks had leaked and contaminated around one third of his food stores, making the food inedible. A 48 hour time penalty applies in the race rules for receiving outside assistance. At the time of going to press Dalton is still ahead of Unai Basurko(ESP) and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (GBR) in third position in the second leg of the round the world race. But the 48 hour pit stop will most likely push the Kiwi skipper to the back of the pack. First leg winner Bernard Stamm (SUI) continues to lead the fleet on Cheminees Poujoulat, with Kojiro Shiraishi (JPN) on Spirit of Yukoh 768 miles back in second. Following Dalton’s pit stop, the three back markers will be bunched together, although they will trail the leader by over 1,700 miles. The second leg of the Velux 5 Oceans is one of the most challenging in solo ocean racing, covering over 14,000 miles from Western Australia to Norfolk, Virginia (USA). The fleet are already battling the freezing expanses of the Southern Ocean before rounding Cape Horn and heading north through the Atlantic.

Skandia Geelong – A Record Week
Skandia Geelong Week continued its growth this year with a record 448 entries taking part in 110 races. Melbournians flocked to the Bay to watch several new events including the Dockland Invitational, which involved 18 of Australia’s leading yachts departing the Waterfront City location, witnessed by many holidaymakers. The event, completed at the end of the week, saw Sydney’s Ray Roberts Quantum Racing win, his DK 46 completing the final race at Corio Bay on the last day.

During the week the racing was fierce across the myriad of events, with Hardys Secret Mens Business topping the 30 strong the Audi Series.

The Reichel/Pugh, skippered by South Australian Geoff Boettcher took the seven race event, aided by a crew of notables including Sydney sailors, Sean Kirkjian (tactics) and Michael Dunstan (mainsheet). It was a close run thing as Boettcher explained: ‘Sean got us out well today. He and I don’t always agree, but I go with what he says ‘ he knows what he’s doing. And Michael did a great job ‘ he reads me and the boat well. I thought Flirt had it, they sailed a good consistent regatta.’

Early on, it looked as though Bob Oatley’s 98 foot super maxi Wild Oats XI would sweep all before her with three straight line and handicap honours wins, overseen by skipper Mark Richard and navigator Adrienne Cahalan. Grant Wharington’s 98ft Skandia and Matt Allens’ Jones 70 (the former Volvo 70) followed Oatswake around the course. Victorian Wharington had a hard time with Skandia. Unable to keep up with Wild Oats XI in all but one race because of a malfunctioning canard.

However, a kite mishap by Oats in Race 4 let Shogun top the overall leader board. The DK46 owned by Rob Hanna from the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, the host for Skandia Geelong Week, had been let in.

Then came the Passage Race, one of the slowest on record with Wild Oats XI taking line honours after nearly five hours. The slow conditions gave the smaller yachts the advantage. They came home fast under spinnaker in an east-nor-easter, with the Lou Abrahams’ Sydney 38 Challenge winning by making the best of every shift and bit of breeze on the course. Lou took home the trophy named in his honour.

Four races followed, on Geelong's Corio Bay over two days. On both, winds were strong 15-25 knots with solid and regular gusts up to 30 knots. These conditions added others to the top of the board and going into the final day, any of the top eight could have won.

Disaster struck Wild Oats XI on the final day, ending its regatta winning hopes, when the giant gooseneck broke. The boom was held by a strop, but that broke too, the boom injuring crew member Ian Smith as it fell. ‘We raced the whole course under jib only, but at least we finished,’ said crew member Barney Walker.

Shogun, the Geelong DK46 owned by Rob Hanna was also dealt a blow when they blew their main out just prior to Race 6, which ended their chance for the top prize.

Graeme Troon’s Melbourne entry XLR8, and sistership to Hardys Secret Mens Business, was another contender, but hooked the top mark in Race 6, ending their race.

Elsewhere veteran Lou Abrahams took home the Morris Finance Trophy for winning the Sydney 38 Division of the Audi Series with runner up Bruce Taylor (Chutzpah), a fellow Victorian. Third went to Geelong sailor Ian Murry on Cinquante. In the Audi Series Division 2, the winners were Rod Jones Archambault 35 Alegria from Mornington in Victoria, with Robert Hick’s self designed 31 footer Toecutter from Melbourne second and True North, Andrew Saies, Beneteau 40.7 from South Australia, third.

In Division three of the Audi Series, two Adams 10s topped the scoreboard. Grant Botica skippered Executive Decision to a win by two points from Max Peters Topgun, with Gordon Mather from Sandringham YC, an 18 year Skandia Geelong Week veteran, third.

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