Veteran International Etchells helmsman Michael Coxon in North Star on Saturday won the opening race of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s 152nd summer sailing season Sydney Harbour.
‘Summer’ was hardly the apt description – wet, windy and certainly chilly by Sydney standards – and less than half the total fleet entered for the season turned up at the starting line.
The wind blew from the SSE and SE at 12-18 knots, gusting over 20 knots at times, with Sydney’s temperature dropping from 17 knots as the starting signal fired to 14 knots by mid afternoon.
The Etchells fleet did, however, attract 15 starters and produced keen one-design competition, with North Star scoring a 21 second win from Top 40 (Peter Merrington and Geoff Bonous) with another 24 seconds to Alchemist (Richard Hammond and Roger Gain).
Only three International Dragons started with Richard Franklin steering Liquidity to victory from Ascalon (Jim Hawkins) and Sidewinder (Carl Ryves). There were no starters in the Yngling fleet.
Charles Curran’s Sydney streaked away from the five boat Division 1 fleet, taking line honours by more than 13 minutes, but slipping to fourth place on corrected time.
Division 1 handicap honours went to Wine-Dark Sea (Peter Lowndes) which was third boat to finish, winning comfortably on corrected time from Bill Meiklejohn’s Braveheart and Ultreya (Rod Pearse).
Jessica Rabbit (Bruce Millar) was on a run in Division 2, but had to accept second place on corrected time from one of the tailenders, Roman Tarnawsky’s Can Can, which ended up with a winning margin of 4 minutes and 22 seconds. Third place went to Jonathan Threfall’s Campeador.
Division 3 this season combines boats from the old Division 4 and it was two of the Division 4 boats that took line and handicap honours today. ‘Til the Fat Lady Sings (David Smith) had fastest time but first place on corrected time went to Stafford Watts’ Beowulf.
Mingara III (Philip Crane) took second place, third going to the smallest boat in the fleet, Richard Staines’ Hood 23, Esquisse II.
While today was the first day of racing in the Squadron’s 152nd season of racing on the Harbour, the formal Opening Day will be on Sunday, 14 September when the Squadron’s Commodore in Chief, Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, will fire a field cannon to start the season and then take the salute at a sail past of Squadron boats.
– Peter Campbell