Merlin conjures up Port Hacking Race win

Merlin, the Kaiko 52 owned by Olympic gold medallist Dave Forbes and skippered by Joe Earl, has won the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Port Hacking Race today, after a race-long battle with second placed Swish, Frantic and The Goat.

Earl and his crew beat Steven Proud’s Kernan 44, Swish, overall by over one minute, and Midnight Rambler, the Ker 40 owned by Ed Psaltis, Michael Bencsik and Bob Thomas, by over two minutes.

Merlin, from Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, also conjured up the best ETA at the finish of Race 3 of the CYCA’s Ocean Pointscore, according to Principal Race Officer, Robyn Morton.

“They radioed from Hornby Light they would likely finish at 14.27 hours – they finished 45 seconds later than that time – that’s as good as it gets,” she said.

At 81, Forbes does not race his boat offshore anymore, preferring to leave the boat in the skillful hands of Joe Earl. But Forbes was happy to see his boat win.

“It doesn’t happen too often in the competition we race against in this series,” he said tonight.

“Joe and the crew have done a great job,” said Forbes who has represented Australia many times, including at the Admiral’s Cup.

“We put a new North main and headsail on the boat, and looks like they did their job. Our old sails had done 1100 hours’ worth of racing, so it was time to replace them,” he conceded.

For his part, Earl said: “It was the first time we used the new sails and they are fantastic. It helped that we had a reasonable start, and picked a good line for sailing down the coast to Port Hacking. We went a little out from the coast – those who went too close lost time.”

“We hung on to Frantic (Mick Martin’s TP52), The Goat (Bruce Foye/Sebastian Bohm’s Rogers 46) and Swish, until they set Code Zeros for the Port Hacking to Botany Bay run – we run under normal spinnaker – but we held our own in the 12 to 16 knot winds from the south, south-east and east/south-east at various times around the course,” said Earl, whose crew feels more confident with the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on the horizon.

Swish took out ORCi overall from Midnight Rambler and the Ker 46, Patrice. Swish also won PHS overall, from Merlin and Patrice. The three are also Rolex Sydney Hobart entrants.

Tony Kirby’s Patrice took line honours at 14.16.37 hours, but it was a drawn out affair for the smaller boats in the fleet. The smallest, Shane Kearns’ 34 year-old S&S 34, was last boat to the Rushcutters Bay finish line at 17.28.46 hours. Travis Read’s China Easyway and Ted Tooher’s Chancellor beat her to the finish by one hour and nearly half an hour respectively.

A fleet of 30 started Race 3 near Point Piper on Sydney Harbour at 10am on a high tide which turned at 10.30am, helping the yachts make their getaway at a faster pace.

“What a murky day. This rain wasn’t forecast – it’s non-stop fine rain and grey skies. Not the best for the 30 starters, but they at least got away cleanly in a 7 knot breeze swinging either side of south,” Principal Race Officer, Robyn Morton, commented from the start boat this morning.

“Balance was an early retirement. She started, but then reported damage to her forestay,” Morton reported of Paul Clitheroe’s TP52, which will line up for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in December.

“As the fleet was leaving the Harbour, the wind picked up to 12 knots and was settling into the south-east,” she said.

Race 4 of the Ocean Pointscore Series is a second Port Hacking Race on January 30, 2016, starting at 10am.  

For full results and provisional Ocean Point Score standings log on to:

– Di Pearson, CYCA Media

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