Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron yachts took out the top honours in Saturday’s Morna Cup race, with Andrew and Pauline Dally’s DK46 Khaleesi leading home the fleet and winning Division 1 and John Maclurcan’s classic Illingworth and Primrose-designed Morag Bheag taking out Division 2.
Remarkably, the 46-year-old Morag Bheag recorded the lowest corrected time of both Division 1 and 2, as she did in the Gascoigne Cup a few weeks ago.
The Morna Cup is the second of three short ocean races conducted each year by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and is also part of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Grant Thornton Short Ocean Pointscore.
The trophy is sterling silver and was presented to the Squadron in 1913 by its then Commodore Sir Alexander MacCormick and named after his yacht Morna.
The Morna Cup perpetual trophy goes to the winner of Division 1 on PHS scoring with the winner of Division 2 winning the G Carter Trophy, also on PHS.
Race officer Ian Kingsford Smith sent the fleet of 17 Division 1 boats and six Division 2 entrants away to a clear start from a line off Watson’s Bay, signalling Course 1 – Sydney Harbour to Botany Bay and return.
“It was a clear start in an easterly breeze of about 10 knots, swinging between 80 and 120 degrees when we started Division 1 at 12 noon,” added Kingsford Smith, normally one of the Squadron’s regular race officers for one-design class mini regattas.
Enjoying a fast spinnaker reach back from Botany Bay, Khaleesi won a close-fought race for line honours n Division 1 from MHYC entarant Nine Dragons (Bob Cox).
On PHS corrected time, Khaleesi’s win was near six minutes from a past Morna Cup winner, Robin Hawthorn’s Beneteau 47.7 Imagination, third place going to Nine Dragons, also a DK46.
Unlike Khaleesi, Morag Bheag finished second last in the small Division 2 fleet but on corrected time she won by a massive margin of 12 minutes 15 seconds from two CYCA entrants, Outlandish (Sean Barrett) and Alpha Carinae (Damien Barker).
Overall, her corrected time was 1 minute and 46 seconds better than Khaleesi’s.
“Two weeks ago I managed not to win the Gascoigne Cup. This week I managed not to win the Morna Cup,” Morag Bheag’s owner/skipper said after Saturday’s race, reflecting that it was he who advised the RSYS to split the two short ocean race fleets.
“Who’s complaining….the Thelma Plate and the G Carter Trophy will do just fine,” Maclurcan added.
Morag Bheag was designed in 1963, based on an English production yacht. “My father father Donald saw it being built and bought it unfinished, launching it in May 1969,” Maclurcan added.
“I raced on her from launch and following my father’s death in 1999 took on the role of owner/skipper and ‘caretaker’.”
Built of Honduras mahogany, the veteran yacht was given a major refit last year and has returned, with success, to short ocean racing. “Do you want to know our secret – varnish, large amounts of varnish,” quipped Maclurcan.
“I recall Jim Dunstan saying about his Currawong Zeus II, that if you were at the front or the back of the fleet, your day will come. It sure did for Jim when he won the Hobart,” the RSYS life member added.
“Morag Bheag now is very much Tail End Charlie and today we benefited from the southerly which eventually blew in about 3.45pm. We held a kite almost from Botany Bay, first shy, then square, all the way until off Macquarie light – the only boat in sight to do so.
“The crew work was outstanding – down spinnaker, up with poled out headsail running into South Head at 7 to 9 knots. Our instrument said we hit 11 but that seems a bit much to me.
“Up with the No 3 to the finish and wacko! we made the time limit with 13 minutes to spare. I really was not focused on corrected time. I just wanted to finish the race….now I'm gob-smacked,” Maclurcan added.
– Peter Campbell