Neville Crichton’s MC38 Maserati is out of the shed and back on the water with a new-look team and pledge starting off with this weekend’s MC38 Autumn Regatta hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club with racing on Sydney Harbour.
After a year-long absence due to a crazy work schedule, Crichton pulled the trigger for his MC38 class comeback just a few weeks ago, charging Moth and dinghy sailor Joe Turner with assembling a crew and well-known Sydney bowman Mitch White with getting the boat out of mothballs and prepared for racing.
The luxury car importer is realistic about their first session back with the one design fleet in a few days’ time and says he will be happy just to get around the course. “I’m back with a team of young guys and we’ll be very green,” Crichton said. “They’ve never sailed together as a group and only a couple have been on an MC38 before so it will be a learning process. We’ll be very much the new boys; we just want to get around the course for our first regatta back.”
Maserati’s crew line-up promises plenty and Crichton’s an experienced helm, but they know their place up against a well-rehearsed fleet fresh from the class’ Australian title in February and Sail Port Stephens last month, on top of years’ of practice compared to Maserati’s brief foray following the boat’s October 2014 launch.
“I was asked to pull a team together two to three weeks ago and it’s been a mad rush trying to find good Sydney guys with nothing on this weekend,” Turner admitted. Maserati’s crew includes Crichton as skipper, Turner on tactics, Doug McGain on main, Mitch White “who goes alright when he faces forward and stops talking” on the bow, James Corrie, Russell ‘Rusty’ Ely and Gus Williams, the CYCA match racing hot shot and Manly 16ft skiff sailor as back-up trimmer/runners.
Turner knows if Maserati is to eventually climb to the top level there can be no excuses, which means dedication to a proper training regime and the boat competing at all class regattas even if Crichton isn’t available to skipper. “We can’t have any excuses in our training. These boats are so fun and lively, and they make an idiot of you if you stuff up. A bit like racing Moths and dinghies, there are big rewards for big effort – and big punishment for mistakes.”
Frontrunner this season and defending champion, Howard Spencer’s Kiwi based Menace which is kept in Sydney for the high-level of competition the Australian class offers, will have some different faces on the rail for the autumn series. Noticeably they’ll be missing regular tactician Ray Davies who just took out the New York stage of the America’s Cup World Series last weekend with his Emirates Team New Zealand crewmates.
Starters for this weekend also include second and third on the progressive season pointscore, Leslie Green’s Ginger (AUS) and John Bacon’s Dark Star (AUS), with their tendency to seek each other out on the race track, and Robin Crawford’s MC38 Assassin. In the last 12 months Assassin has posed a real threat to the previous natural finish order and at the Australian Championship on Pittwater, won by Ginger, Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan team pulled together some encouraging top three results.
Seabreeze’s long range forecast indicates warm daytime temperatures and an easy outlook for both Saturday May 14 and Sunday 15, starting out N-NNE 6-8 knots on Saturday afternoon then trending to WNW into Sunday and remaining light.
The Autumn Regatta begins with a registration and crew weigh-in 0800 – 0900hrs on Saturday then race committee briefing led by the PRO Phil Yeomans at the host club at 0930hrs. The first scheduled warning signal of the day is due at 1100hrs on Sydney Harbour, likely to be in The Sound vicinity, followed by up to four races, daily prize giving and announcement of the North Sails boat of the day.
Sunday’s program is also due to start at 1100hrs with up to three races scheduled.
David Tallis is chief on-water umpire.
The MC38 Autumn Regatta is the second of a three-part Season Championship to be decided at the third and final event, the MC38 Winter Regatta in June.
– Lisa Ratcliff