Bob Cox’s DK46, Nine Dragons, came out on top of the pile in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s windward/leeward short ocean race on late Saturday afternoon, taking line, PHS and IRC honours, never putting a foot wrong all day.
Decided under PHS, Race 8 of the Grant Thornton Short Ocean Race Series started at midday near Shark Island on Sydney Harbour. The fleet sailed under sunny skies in a light breeze that flicked between 90 and 100 degrees at 9 to 12 knots with the odd gust to 13 knots.
Nine Dragons got off the start line well, with Robin and Annette Hawthorn’s Beneteau 47.7 Imagination to leeward and Phil Dash’s Beneteau First 40, JustADash, to windward. But it was Cox’s boat that made it out through Sydney Heads in the lead.
Contrary to the rest of the fleet, It gave Nine Dragons a significant lead at the top mark the first time, according to the boat’s navigator, Neil Rechlin.
The best was yet to come, as Rechlin recollected: “The crew worked hard after that mark and we extended, which was rewarding. The breeze was light, but there was and one and a half metre swell, so the sea was lumpy, some of which I attribute to the remnants of Cyclone Winston.
“It was by no means an easy race,” he recounted. “The wind was shifty and it was hard going in the lumpy sea.”
Nine Dragons maintained her performance to cross the Watsons Bay finish line some distance ahead of her rivals and scored big wins in PHS and IRC. The Sydney 36 Stormaway, owned by Jack Stening and Colin Gunn, was Nine Dragon’s nearest rival under PHS, but 16 minutes in arrears overall, with Imagination third.
Under IRC, Imagination was second overall, nearly five minutes off the winning time, once the handicaps were applied, with Stormaway third.
PHS Division 2 went to Damian Barker’s Sydney 36CR, Alpha Carinae, followed by Sean Barnett’s Outlandish, a Jutson 31. Chris Ryan’sX35, Next Light, rounded out the top three.
Neil Rechlin said the Nine Dragons crew was pleased with their performance ahead of the coming weekend’s Sydney Harbour Regatta, which a number of his rivals from this race will contest.
“Our sistership (Khaleesi) usually keeps us honest. They have been sailing so well. They have changed the game for us. We had to reappraise how we were sailing the boat, which has been good for us,” he said of Andrew and Pauline Dally’s DK46, which did not one of its better days.
“We’ve been finding our way, tuning the boat during the last few months, and I think we are getting close. This is important coming into the weekend’s regatta and looking ahead to other regattas. We’re looking forward to next weekend,” he said of the Sydney Harbour Regatta, which is hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club, where Nine Dragons and Khaleesi live.
The Grant Thornton Short Ocean Race series wraps up with Race 9 on 12 March, starting at midday.
For full race results and provisional Grant Thornton Short Haul standings log on to:
By Di Pearson, CYCA Media