Sydney 38 sailors in a class of their own

Sydney 38’s and their sailors really are in a class of their own; the proof is in the pudding with the likes of Thierry Leseigneur’s Eye Candy taking out IRC and ORCi honours in the Groupama Around New Caledonia Race in June, while second and third overall also went New Caledonian Sydney 38s, Guilty Pleasures – Speed Marine and Poulpito MLS FCD.

Sydney 38
The Sal Balharrie owned and skippered No Man’s Land at the AWKR – Andrea Francolini pic – AWKR

In the ORCV’s Melbourne to Hobart, which takes the yachts from Melbourne down the treacherous west coast of Tasmania, it was Matt Fahey’s Sydney 38, Faster Forward that prevailed. One of the smallest boats in the fleet, she took overall honours from her adversaries of all sizes.

In the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart, Kim Jaggar’s Cinquante punched above her weight, finishing ninth overall in a race that favoured the TP52s, maxis and veteran yachts. Cinquante, which also placed second in Division 3, outsailed grand prix 40, 50 and 60 foot yachts in a fleet of 88 boats – and in a fleet where retirement numbers almost matched the number that finished.

When it comes to one-design racing, the Peter Byford and David Hudson owned Conspiracy is the boat to beat. This year alone, she won the won Sydney 38 NSW Championship, also scoring first place in the RPAYC Estuary Series Pointscore (under ORC), second in the Pittwater Inshore series (ORC) and third in the Lion Island Series (ORC).

“The class is doing well and activity is growing with new owners,” says a pleased Hudson, who is also President of the Class.

Sydney 38
Sydney38s downwind at an S38 Australian Championship – Andrea Francolini, MHYC pic

“We have 37 boats active in Victoria, South Australia, on Sydney Harbour, Lake Macquarie and in New Caledonia,”

Hudson should be pleased; Sydney 38’s regularly feature on offshore and around the buoys racing podiums in open fleets.

Mille Sabords (Paul Jenkins) won its division in MHYC’s Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship in November’s Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship, while South Australia’s Audacious (Stuart Johnson) landed on the podium of the 2021 and 2022 Adelaide to Port Lincoln races.

Peter Sorensen, a legendary skiff sailor and yachtsman, joined the class in 2019 with Advanced Philosophy. ‘Sorro’ has owned and sailed a variety of classy yachts and quickly made inroads with the ‘38’, with race wins and a Performance Division 1 win at MHYC’s 2022 Sydney Harbour Regatta.

“They’re a terrific boat and a very friendly and social class,“ says Sorensen, who was narrowly defeated by Conspiracy for the Sydney 38 One Design NSW Championship title in February, going into the final day tied on points with Conspiracy.

Sydney 38
Fast and furious competition at the S38 Australians – Andrea Francolini, MHYC

“The one-design racing is pretty good, when you lose it’s because you’ve stuffed up, not the boat. It doesn’t need loads of crew either and you can use it for any type of racing. It’s a good little boat to sail.”

At the same Championship, Liz Charles and an all-female crew sailed the S38 for the first time on Calibre (chartered by the Sydney 38 Association for the ladies) and had an excellent regatta. They just missed the podium, placing fourth overall on countback, an extraordinary result considering their limited hours on the boat.

In Melbourne, Sal Balharrie purchased Bruce Taylor’s multi-winning Chutzpah just before Covid lockdown set in and promptly renamed it ‘No Man’s Land’. Balharrie bought the yacht to train novice women to racing level – and it’s working a treat. They contest Melbourne events and in June’s Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta scored top three places.

Throughout the year, you will find the Sydney 38’s liberally sprinkled in club fleets, winning and finishing top three, as owners and crews hone their skills for major events. On Lake Macquarie, ‘Challenge’ (Greg Croak) was named 2021 Club Champion, proving the theory they are extremely competitive boats to race at club level.

As an additional bonus, the Sydney 38 Association is supporting members by maintaining a strategic stock of long delivery spares. It means owners can gain access to replacement parts speedily if they experience a breakage.

The list of spares is published on the Sydney 38 Class Association website at: where you can also find all information regarding the class.

Di Pearson/Sydney 38 media

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