The MC38 Spring Regatta this coming weekend marks the penultimate event of the class’ inaugural Australian Championship, and with the Kiwis leading the topmost Aussie team by one point there are sail bags full of national pride at stake.
The racy one design fleet will gather on October 10-11, 2015 on Pittwater, north of Sydney’s CBD, as part of a huge weekend the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club is rolling out to highlight its Integrated disAbled Sailing (IdS) program http://rpayc.com.au/sailing/integrated-disabled-sailing
The current MC38 season pointscore shows Howard Spencer’s MC38 Menace (Royal Akarana Yacht Club) leading John Bacon’s Dark Star (RPAYC) by one point and current class Australian champions, Leslie Green’s Ginger (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia), is third by a two point margin, with two events remaining. Fourth and fifth aren’t far off, squeezing the top handful and setting up a brilliant showdown for the Spring Regatta and final MC38 Open event, November 14-15 on the harbour out of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.
Changes for the MC38 Spring Regatta include former British Sailing Team Laser gun Chris Dawson driving Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan, the owner and regular skipper unavailable to lead his team due to overseas commitments.
Dawson sailed with the Dark Star crew at the class’ first speed training weekend back in August and in light of good breeze thought driving an MC38 was “awesome fun. The Spring series will be my first opportunity to do a class regatta with the Hooligan team, and race the boat in anger,” he added.
Other than achieving “reasonable success” in international Laser Masters events, Dawson has been busy with the big boat circuit. On shifty Pittwater he commented: “Having been an RPA member since 1991 and owning a Sydney 38 for 12 years I know the ins and outs – not that anyone really knows!”
The MC38s will be part of the RPAYC’s annual flagship fundraising Link Healthcare Islands weekend for IdS, featuring a gala fundraising dinner on Saturday evening with live music and a silent auction. Bacon is the IdS program’s founder and major sponsor and his Dark Star crew will be there dressed in their fancies. Ginger’s Leslie Green is kindly supporting the MC38 class’ Spring Regatta social activities and has made a significant donation to IdS.
As well as keeping the Hooligan program rolling using a guest skipper, local Warriewood businessman Marcus Blackmore has sponsored a table at the gala dinner. MC38 Association president John Bacon said, “I believe that returned injured Australian Defence Force members who are part of the IdS’ partnership with the Soldier-On charity will make use of Marcus’ gifted table.”
Saturday is always busy on the popular waterway. In addition to four windward/leewards for the MC38s inshore starting at midday, the RPAYC will conduct a Sprint Series for Etchells, Melges 24s, Vipers and Stars.
Sunday October 11 is mad busy too; two more w/ls scheduled for the MC38s, again starting at midday, then a final passage race fitting around the rest of the Pittwater traffic including the 1100hrs pursuit start of the Link Healthcare islands race, centreboard racing commencing at 1300hrs and all day RPAYC Youth Development training.
Lejen Marine has agreed to support the MC38 class once again by supplying a high-class Highfield RIB for on-water umpiring. Chief technical adviser to the MC38s, Richard Slater, says “We use RIBs all over the world at many varied venues and nothing compares to a Highfield.”
Most of the likely eight MC38 teams are coming to the Spring Regatta with new confidence and ability having attended a first-time training weekend back in August coordinated by Terry Wetton, the RPAYC and North Sails. The on and off water master classes in sail trim and tactics focused on speed training and knowledge sharing, to lift the entire fleet to a new level of competition.
Wetton is passionate about providing training programs for owner/skippers and crews who are part of existing classes and the backbone of yachting in Australia but might have missed racing in dinghies or being part of club youth development programs in their younger days. “That's where we need to build stronger classes, not just training kids to become professionals,” Wetton believes. “The feedback we received, from new skippers in the class to some of Australia's best sailors, was that everyone got something out of the weekend and want to do more.”
– Lisa Ratcliff