Record Reward

The Adelaide-Lincoln record was smashed and the Lincoln regatta remains as enjoyable as ever, by Bob Ross, words and pictures

SOUTH AUSTRALIA'S most dedicated offshore campaigner, Geoff Boettcher earned a milestone reward when his Secret Men's Business 3 broke the ten-year-old line honours record for the Lexus Adelaide to Port Lincoln race and also won on IRC corrected time.

Secret Men's Business 3, a Reichel/Pugh 47, disappointed in her early racing after launching last year and is going back to builder Mal Hart's shed for a hull modification to improve her upwind form. Similarly to the alterations made to the slightly later R/P designs Limit and Loki during the building process, she will have the chines shaved off the afterbody.

But while she has been obviously slow upwind, SMB3 is an absolute projectile downwind. In the 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart race, she was hanging in with the TP52s on the fast slide to Tasman Island. But while they laid across Storm Bay on one leg, she had to tack all the way over the remaining 41n miles to the finish to place a worthy ninth on corrected time.

Boettcher is reluctant to change SMB3's mast position, as the 62-63 footers Loki and Limit did, but will concentrate on refining the hull. “We are going to nip and tuck the transom because the turbulence there is like a whirlpool,” he says.

SMB3 broke the Adelaide-Lincoln record set by Grant Wharington's Murray Burns & Dovell 70-footer Wild Thing in 1999 by 40 minutes, with an elapsed time of 14hr 21min 37sec for the 156n mile course.

The conditions this year were similar to those of 1999, said SMB3's navigator Steve Kemp from Port Lincoln who also navigated Wild Thing in 1999. The wind was 18-20 knots from 185 degrees for the first leg, of 46nms from the start off Outer Harbour across the Gulf of St Vincent to Marion Reef.

SMB3 stayed low on port tack, footing fast, anticipating the usual shift to the left under the sea breeze influence during the afternoon, which ended up at about 155 degrees. “We were cracked three to five degrees to keep our speed over 8.5 knots all the time and getting nine knots, which kept us on the pace and luckily enough the breeze did lift us up to the Marion Reef mark so by the time we got there, we knew we might have a chance for the record,”
said Boettcher.

SMB3 set a jibtop for the tight reach along the end of the Yorke Peninsula to Cape Spencer. “This boat really loves those conditions,” said Boettcher.

“Right on the Cape itself we came away and went straight to a kite. We had to tack down breeze to get around Dangerous Reef, which lost us a bit of time. We had breeze most of the way, with a couple of little quiet spots but doing 12 knots all the time.”

Steve Kemp had been worried about the breeze dropping off in the early morning, as it had in 1999, but the breeze stayed in for SMB3 right through Boston Bay to the finish off the Port Lincoln Wharf.

SMB3, from the Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia, won the race's IRC division on corrected time by 48 minutes from Alan Woodward's Beneteau First 45 Reverie from Royal Brighton Yacht Club while Andrew Saies' Beneteau 40.7 True North, also from the CYCSA, was third.

Peter Young's Young 39 Hanson Monkey Puzzle, from the Port Fairy YC, won the PHC division; Calypso (Tim Pearce), a Space Sailer 8m from the Port Lincoln YC won the cruising division and Ocean Mentor (Simon Turvey, Port Lincoln YC) the Sydney 32 division.

Lexus Lincoln Regatta

Reverie, with consistency and excellent upwind speed, went on to win the IRC division of the Lexus Lincoln Regatta, which follows the Adelaide-Lincoln race after a lay day, by ten points from SMB3. Michael Keough's Farr 42 Spirit of Lexus, fast in the lighter winds, was third on a placings countback from Nick George's DK46 Exile in a quality fleet.

The regatta, a mix of short-course windward/leeward races on Boston Bay and short passage races, was sailed in a variety of breezes from 20-22kts with 30kts in gusts on the first day down to 10-12kts then a drifter on the last day, which forced abandonment of the last short-course race.

SMB3, after winning the first short-course race on day one, dropped to seventh in the second after dropping a spinnaker over the side on a leeward mark rounding.

Reverie, with Col Anderson calling tactics, put together an impressive 2-1-2-2-1 scoreline for her IRC regatta win. A Philippe Briand design, she was launched last year, optimised for rigorous sailing on Port Phillip and placed second to Rod Jones' Archambault 40RC Alegria in IRC division 2 at Skandia Geelong Week in January.

Owner Alan Woodward was sailing in his fifth Lincoln Week. “I had a Farr 38 here with David Binks and we won the regatta with that many years ago. I came here with a Beneteau 40.7 a couple of times. Lincoln Week is a great week.

“Most of the crew has been with me for 20-odd years. We have local talent from Port Lincoln, Tim Nelligen, Col Anderson from Doyle Sails; he's a very good tactician and keeps us honest. The rest of us are what you might call corinthian sailors from Royal Brighton Yacht Club.

“We go out and have a very good time and now and then we win the odd regatta. Hamilton Island will be our next adventure. We are mainly regatta sailors; we don't like ocean racing.”

Andrew Corletto's Sydney 38 Shining Sea won the performance handicap division from another Sydney 38, Hold On, owned by CYCSA Commodore Peter Page with race veteran Dick Fidock steering.

Dick's son Richard, who usually sails on Secret Men's Business 3, joined his father on Hold On because Dick had said that this would be his last Adelaide-Lincoln race. He had done more than 40 of them. Dick, who is 79, said after the regatta, “I might go again. You can call me Mr Melba.”

Meantime, he sailed his own Beneteau 40.7 As Good as it Gets, in Royal Sydney YS' annual Squadron Cruise on Pittwater at Easter.

Third in performance handicap division was the Sydney 40 OD Running Wild (Barry Levinson), from the Port Fairy Yacht Club; one of seven entries from the Victorian port to travel to Port Lincoln.

Another seven boats took on the nine and a-half hour drive from the water-starved Goolwa Regatta Yacht Club on the lower Murray River to race in the 18-strong Sports Boats and Trailable division.

They included three of the club's immaculately-restored Restricted 21-footers, the ballasted centreboarders that until 1955 raced in the Forster Cup interstate championship.

Goldigger (Tony Gold), an Austral Clubman 8 from the Brighton and Seacliff YC won the division from the Boatspeed 23 Bohica (Todd Bartlett) from Victor Harbour YC with Alternative Therapy (Michael Lane), an Austral Clubman 8 from the CYCSA third.

One of the Goolwa Restricted 21s Nerana (Randal Cooper) showed great light air speed to win the last race while the other two, Brightun (Michael Schirmer) and Milsonia (Steve McArdle) dead-heated for fourth in that race.

The cruising division went to Trevor Mudge's Beneteau First 50 Nellie Myra from the CYSA. Kym Clarke's Fresh from Port Lincoln YC won the Sydney 32 division.

The Adelaide-Lincoln race had 62 starters and Lincoln Week had 47, a good turnout considering that the usual Etchells and J/24 fleets were absent; the Js at their state championship and the Etchells committed to the world championship soon afterwards in Melbourne. “The numbers were better than expected with the economic downturn,” said regatta chairman Dave Buckland.

The organising committee intends to strongly promote the 60th Adelaide-Lincoln race next year and the Lincoln Week regatta, which began in 1976, hoping for a 60 to 70-boat regatta fleet. The Adelaide-Lincoln race will start on February 19 and the Lincoln regatta will run from Feb 22-25.

Lincoln? Love it

Some things never change in Port Lincoln. The town has grown from 11,000 to 14,000 since I sailed there in my first Lincoln Race Week in 1982.

The proliferation of aquaculture, developing alongside the traditional fishing fleet chasing tuna and crayfish, has added fish farms as a navigational hazard but there is still more than enough smooth water in protected Boston Bay to run a couple of Olympic regattas simultaneously.

Australian Olympic coach Victor Kovalenko, after attending the 470 national championship there earlier in the year, admired the venue, asking the locals, “How long has this been here?”

The regatta is no longer run from the yacht club on the town beach, with tenders ferrying crews to moored boats, but from the tavern at the extensive Lincoln Cove Marina on nearby Porter Bay, with its surrounding infrastructure of villas and apartments offering reasonable rental accommodation during the regatta.

The climate is still Mediterranean-warm and dry, the regatta management is good and above all, the generous country-style hospitality of the Port Lincoln sailing fraternity make this one of my favourite regattas.

That's what I'm thinking after the last race of a very successful 2009 Lincoln Week Regatta, when Darcy Harvey picks us up from The Marina Hotel and drives us to The Shed for his traditional Thursday evening gathering of friends and family, before we have to move on to the presentation dinner in the yacht club.

The Shed in the backyard of Darcy's home is given over almost completely to hospitality with a bar decorated with sailing pictures, posters, flags and memorabilia, much of it sent by Darcy's sons Neil and Mick who left Port Lincoln many years ago for the USA to become professional sailors in America's Cup and offshore racing campaigns. They're still on the phone to Darcy at least once a week.

Darcy, a life member of the Port Lincoln Yacht Club, is still one of its most dedicated volunteers. He still sorts through the garbage each week salvaging bottles and cans to raise funds for the club. He still helps run the Holdfast Trainer program for children. It's hard to appreciate that this lively and cheerful fixture of Port Lincoln is 87 years old.

We leave The Shed party early to make the start of the presentation dinner, sharing a taxi with another of the club's dedicated volunteers, Geoffrey (“Megga”) Bascombe, the legendary yacht delivery skipper whose generosity is as ample as his frame. He has been driving a mark-laying boat during the regatta.

Catering and service for the crowd of 250 people at the dinner, which fills the upper floor of the clubhouse is, like the regatta's on-water activities, all handled by volunteers. Like the race management, it all looks casual but it works.

It's a wonderful effort from a club with a total membership of about 500 and only the manager, Wendy Lambert, on the payroll.

Even the principal race officer Stewart (“Jock”) Ross, a notable 14ft skiff sailor in his younger days in Melbourne who now lives in Adelaide, is a volunteer. I liked his approach to discouraging premature starts. “After the first general recall, I hang the black flag over the stern and tell them I'm airing it.”

Each afternoon when competitors gather at the Marina Tavern after racing, besides prizes of Eyre Peninsula wine and glasses for first and second in each class, a draw for all yachts is held to win three large crayfish.

With most boats renting villas or townhouses around the marina, the crays are a welcome addition to in-house crew barbecues, which invariably feature seafood. After all, Port Lincoln calls itself the seafood capital of Australia and its big fishing fleet is also based on the marina, so crays, tuna, prawns, mussels, abalone, feature on those barbecues as well as in the town's restaurants and hotels.

One of the regatta's social high points is “Megga's barbecue” beach picnic in Spalding Cove after a short passage race on Wednesday. While Megga founded it, the event has outgrown the big fella and is now run as a fund raiser for local causes and this year the Victorian bushfire appeal, by volunteers from Port Lincoln Rotary who man a convoy of four-wheel drives for the three-quarter hour journey from Lincoln on a dirt road through national parkland to get there.

It's a gathering of competitors with the atmosphere that the Whitehaven Beach party at Hamilton Island Race Week once had, before the resort staff kids and backpackers crash-tackled it.

Almost all the boats anchored off the beach after the race, for the crews to be ferried ashore in tenders by young volunteers from the Port Lincoln YC.

It was great to wander barefoot through the shallows and in the sand to catch up with some old South Australian sailing acquaintances like Geoff Vercoe, Noel Welfare and Ross Haldane, munch on steak and salad and down a friendly beer or a local wine.

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