Pace versus grace at the Festival of Sails 2016

The owner’s blurb for his Festival of Sail’s sports boat division entry simply states: “Thompson 8. Great fun. Fast boat”. A handful of words that sums up Julian Newton’s trailerable sports boat Game On, the first entry for the division that always draws a good crowd thanks to Geelong’s reliable summer sea breeze and flat-water sailing on Corio Bay.

Positive things are happening in South Australia in terms of the number of boat owners competing interstate and making the journey along Cape Otway and by road to the iconic waterfront event Royal Geelong Yacht Club hosts annually.

Newton is normally a good talker and happy to chat about his crew’s regular Festival attendance but after hitting oil on the track in his Nissan GTR R35 at the Adelaide Motor Sport Festival at 216 clicks and crashing into a concrete barrier, he is laying low.

His navigator Nick Wotton says the Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia crew has a rule that dictates regardless of weather, they always fly their biggest spinnaker. “We can hit 24 knots of boat speed in heavy winds and I’m sure this has afforded us Platinum membership with the local chandlery at Geelong. I think we’ve paid for the shop renovations over the years,” Wotton joked. “We’ve got to know many of the locals over the seven years we’ve been coming to Geelong; we love the environment, and the town and people are brilliant.”

Though they’ll both fall comfortably under the Festival umbrella next January 22 – 26, Game On and the classic boat division’s first entry are worlds apart; carbon fibre versus Oregon planking over Maple frames and ribs, lightweight at 760kgs versus nine tonne, pace versus grace.

Cardinal Puff, the first of two classic boat division entries so far, is a Ron Swanson & Wally Ward design built in the mid-1960s by Graeme ‘Bluey’ Williams in a disused Brisbane dairy. It was commissioned by the late yachting great and two-time Sydney Hobart winner, Peter Kurts, and sailed with distinction in many ocean races.

Bought in 2009 by RGYC member Bill Chittenden, the owner with the old English surname complementary to his classic boat, Cardinal Puff was completely rebuilt over five years in keeping with her original design and traditional lines, but with improvements made and safety enhanced.

Chittenden must love the smell of varnish as Cardinal is the second boat he’s brought back to life. The first was an S&S 40 his owner syndicate shipped to Ireland for the Fastnet Race before Chittenden finished up with the job of refurbishing the beauty.

Nowadays Chittenden enters Classic Boat Association events, cruises and polishes the “old Lady” for timber boat festivals, in particularly the Geelong and Hobart festivals, which alternate year about. “She’s a lovely old boat but very slow, which suits the owner…. he’s a bit slow as well”, Chittenden jests. His Festival of Sails highlight is “catching up with old friends from all over the country – the regatta really has that national drawcard.”

Owners of eligible boats considering a Festival of Sails entry are reminded that online entries lodged before the closing date of November 30, 2015 go in the draw for the major prize of a trip for two to New York valued at $10,000. Enter & view entries here

A bonus incentive for interstate entries is the Bausele watch valued at $1,000, the special prize for one lucky winner who hails from a territory or state beyond Victoria, plus any international entrants.

Two national titles, for the VX One class and the second the Morris Finance Sydney 38 One Design Australian Championship, will be decided at the Festival of Sails, January 22 through to Australia Day, January 26, 2016.

 -Lisa Ratcliff/FOS Media

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