Perfect day sailing for Beneteau Cup on Sydney Harbour

Sydneysiders cooked under a spring blowtorch that took the temperature in the CBD past 30 degrees at 9am last Friday morning, November 21, 2014. Out on the harbour the real sizzle came from the class rivalry in the 23rd annual Beneteau Cup Sydney.

Most of the 39 skippers and crews competing across four divisions were nonchalant and friendly enough at the morning gathering and official briefing as they sipped fine champagne. Once the start gun for race one fired, the competitive gene kicked in among the more ambitious in the spinnaker and non-spinnaker fleets.

Fickle afternoon breezes kept the tacticians guessing.  A perfect nor ‘easterly wind greeted crews at the start off Darling Point then waned and shifted east as the air temperature rose into the high 30s. Some of the back markers missed the time limit in the opening race, mostly the Lagoons catamarans which were the last to start, though the crews weren’t too bothered given it was lunchtime anyway.

A slick on-water performance by a crew all aged over 60 resulted in two line honours wins against much bigger boats and a non-spinnaker division 1 victory for Max Prentice’s First 40.7 Ticket of Leave. “We have a lot of old farts on board, but that worked pretty well,” said Prentice. “We found the courses fair and we blitzed the field.” He praised Vicsail Sydney’s organisation of the two-race series, “It’s the only regatta of its kind for a specific class. Congratulations to Vicsail.”

Other divisional winners were Graeme Neuhaus’ Crowded Haus (spinnaker), Robert Swan’s Elusive Spirit (non-spinnaker division 2) and Anthony Bishop’s Espresso, the prizewinning Lagoon.

Out of the top results but definitely in the spirit was the full crew on Jim Lelliott’s Beneteau 47.7 called AusReo. They traded polos and caps for hard hats and matching bright orange high visibility work shirts.

A comedian racing on another boat pointed towards the Harbour Bridge and called out to them “Barangaroo is up that way”, referring to James Packer’s harbourside casino development. AusReo supplies reinforcing steel and the company has sponsored the boat’s second Rolex Sydney Hobart challenge. Look out for them on Boxing Day when the crew is dressed once again in construction chic. “We are not the Village People, contrary to what some say, though we can do the YMCA,” Lelliott volunteered.

Back off the water NSW’s Beneteau agent Graham Raspass said, “Judging by the looks on everyone’s faces, a good day was had by all. The weather was kind and it was fantastic to see so many Beneteau owners and crew, particularly the like Beneteaus such as the Oceanis 38s and 45s, challenging each other.”

Raspass skippered his Beneteau 44.7 Swift and other Vicsail staff supported owners by taking up crew positions among the fleet.

The series finished up with a sit-down dinner at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and an auction to raise funds for Mercy Ships, the unique medical hospital ship charity Vicsail supports. A donation of $2,000 from Raspass and his team kick-started this year’s Beneteau Cup fundraising effort and with the generous support of skippers and crew $5,000 was raised for Mercy Ships.

A multi-generational 39 strong fleet representing Beneteau designs from the mid-1980s up to the very latest from the French manufacturer enjoyed the 23rd edition of the Beneteau Cup Sydney thanks to event sponsors Sydney City Marine and KPMG.

Top 3 div results

Spinnaker division

1.       Crowded Haus, Graham Neuhaus

2.       Ménage a Trois, Karl Matiszik

3.       Vanishing Point, Bill Wheeler

Non-spinnaker div 1

1.       Ticket of Leave, Max Prentice

2.       Inkonkoni, Arthur Lane

3.       Santé, Rob & Sue Segaert

Non-spinnaker div 2

1.       Elusive Spirit, Robert Swan

2.       Eau De Vie, Kevin Gray

3.       Flying Circus, John Greenwood

Lagoon

1.       Espresso, Anthony Bishop

2.       Lagoon 39, Brendan Hunt

3.       GEM, Paul Noppen

– Lisa Ratcliff

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