St George Midnight Rambler steals show in Port Hacking Race

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race hopeful, St George Midnight Rambler, had a quick downwind ride to the finish in the Port Hacking Race this afternoon, to claim first place in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Ocean Point Score’s (OPS) Race 4 by four minutes over Balance.

However, owners Ed Psaltis, Bob Thomas and Michael Bencsik, who took the triple with their Ker 40, winning IRC, ORCi and PHS, are casual entries in the Series, leaving the door open for Series contender, Paul Clitheroe and his TP52 Balance, which overtook Brindabella for line honours and finished second overall in both IRC and ORCi, with Steven Proud sailing his Kernan 44, Swish into third place overall and fourth under ORCi.

Today’s results bring Balance to within three points of series leader, About Time (Julian Farren-Price) and Swish moves up into third place overall. Balance could be a serious threat to About Time, which has dominated the annual series for the last four years.”

Balance finished at 14.06.23 hours, nine minutes ahead of Jim Cooney’s Brindabella, which had rounded the Port Hacking mark first and set a spinnaker for the run home.  Balance picked the older and heavier yacht up off Maroubra in an 18-20 knot south/south-easterly, and kept up the momentum going to the finish line in Rushcutters Bay.

Clitheroe said, “Brindabella was going like a rocket, but she is heavier than us and we just skim over the waves.” The financial whizz was over the moon to discover they had done so well for the second week running and was unusually pleased for St George Midnight Rambler beating them overall.

“We’ve formed a team with Ed and Sam Haynes (ADA Celestial) for the Southern Cross Cup (which includes the Rolex Sydney Hobart) and today two of the team sailed and finished first and second. It goes without saying that Ed and his crew are great sailors,” he said.

“Sam’s leading the Blue Water Point Score and we’re one point behind him – that’s great for the team,” pointed out Clitheroe, who last week won the Cabbage Tree Island Race, a qualifier for the Sydney Hobart in the Blue Water Point Score.

The yachtsman said Steven Proud “Sailed a good all-round race. Once we got out of the Harbour in lightish air, and around the corner, we were amazed to discover a 14-16 knot south/south-easterly and Swish sailed the leg up really well and kept up the good work on the run home.

“It was surprising to beat About Time (the defending OPS multiple champion and overall leader of this current series). To beat Julian once is a miracle, so we’ll take that, thank you,” he said of the jeweller’s Cookson 12.   

The race may have got off to shaky start in the light breeze, with the lead changing as the boats headed out to sea, and while Brindabella, a Jutson 80, took control at the front, there were place changes going on all the way up to the mark south of Sydney – and on the way home.

Behind the leaders, Noel Cornish’s Sydney 47 St Jude rounded the Port Hacking mark just before 1.00pm, with Swish and David Pescud’s TP52, Wot Eva-SWD giving chase, but the downwind leg home changed the finish order dramatically, leaving St Jude out of the picture.  

Shortly after, 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart winner, Victoire retired after steering damage was reported from Darryl Hodgkinson’s canting Cookson 50, which had to be driven home under emergency steering. If it had to happen, better now than later down the track in the race he won last year. 

Just prior to the 10.00am start, conditions were not clear-cut, as Race Officer Steve Kidson explained: “I was a little nervous in the time leading up to the start, because we only had 3-4 knots of fickle breeze. I didn’t think we’d be able to get them away on time, but just at the right time, we got an 8 knot south-easterly.”

The Port Hacking Race was the third in the OPS series. Race 4 will be Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship on November 29.    

For full race results and provisional Ocean Point Score standings log on to:

By Di Pearson, CYCA Media

M.O.S.S Australia