Main photo: The Spinnaker Division jostle for position immediately after the start to get out of Taylors Bay.

The overarching sentiment of the magnificent 2022 Beneteau Cup on Sydney Harbour came down to one thing. So with total deference to Joni Mitchell, indeed one did ponder the lines of Big Yellow Taxi, ‘Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?’

Well. After a two-year, COVID induced hiatus; all the skippers and crew of the 28 entries seemed to be either humming the tune out loud, or sub-consciously living the dream. Even Huey, the God of Wind, ensured there was no paved parking lot, despite the Harbour being very busy.

A cheeky little Northerly swung right some 20 or 30 degrees, locked in, and then gave a delightful 10-15 knots for the duration of both races, thereby making the Harbour the swinging hot spot on a truly glamour day. A few bullets and wind shadows in the lee of Shark Island just made it all the more fun.

The breeze then completely crumped as the last of the competitors crossed the finish line and fired up their iron ladies to take them back to the pink hotel (host venue the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia), where there were some true fashion statements only a boutique from yesteryear could have delivered, and the new swinging hotspot began the fun that is the dinner, presentations, and dancing. Muscle memory certainly is a great thing, and all the guests laughed and smiled as tales were regaled.

2022 marked the 29th running of the Beneteau Cup on Sydney Harbour. It all began in 1990, and it was in 1996 that long-term Flagstaff Marine employee, Shane Crookshanks competed in his first. “I actually met my future wife, Lisa, 25 years ago at a Beneteau Cup here on the Harbour.” Three kids later, and Crookshanks can reflect on a few being lost to not just COVID, “…but also the GFC, and the recession we had to have. I’m not sure there was a little blurry in some of those records along the way for obvious reasons.”

Graham Raspass of Flagstaff Marine commented, “Our thanks go to Steve Kidson, the race officer for the day, for conducting six perfect starts in Taylors Bay, and providing some very good courses to race around. It was great to be back on Sydney Harbour again with sunny weather, a lovely breeze, and a whole load of Beneteau owners, crew and family.”

“The fleet ranged in size from 23 to 54 feet, and spanned every decade from the 80s to now. I think what was so exciting, and somebody mentioned it today when they were coming up to accept their trophy, is when you’re a Beneteau owner, you are part of a family. I’m very humble in the fact that I am the current custodian of the Beneteau family for the period of time that I own Flagstaff Marine. I’m also very confident that one day I will pass the mantle onto someone else, and they in turn will then take on the role of perpetuating the Beneteau family in Sydney.”

“We had a good representation of Beneteau Firsts, and they were certainly displaying their performance capabilities, but it’s also wonderful to see so many Oceanis owners out there just thoroughly enjoying a regatta on the Harbour. This is just fantastic, for some have not really been in any sort of racing mode ever before.”

These kinds of Beneteau Regattas are a great way to introduce sailors to the fact that racing isn’t just the Sydney to Hobart. There’s a whole spectrum from cruising to racing and many different facets for people to enjoy a challenge. I had Ariel Miners from our major sponsor MitchCap with me today. It was his first time at one of these regattas, and he’d never seen a race start before. To suddenly be right there with 10 or so boats all converging on the same patch of water, trying to hit it at exactly the same time, and also have an advantage over the other boats was something he found very exciting and marvelled at how it all seems to happen so quickly. Not too much shouting, I’m pleased to say, but you know, a fair bit of anxiety. It was all a really great introduction for him.”

Ariel Miners stated after the racing, “It’s an honour to be here for our first year as a principal sponsor of the Beneteau Cup. We hope that it is going to be a long-term partnership. We have a very strong partnership with Flagstaff Marine, so thank you Graham and Micah for hosting the event.”

“We’re currently developing a marine mortgage product to really assist yacht buyers to be able to fund these larger and more expensive pieces of leisure equipment. It’ll be available in calendar 2023.”

Miners evidently had a lot of fun pulling the sheets of the headsail on Knot a Diamond, and said about it all, “An absolutely brilliant boat. Shout out to the crew.  Thank you very much for having me. It was an absolute pleasure and honour to be there. I’ve got a little bit of excitement for sailing, so maybe you’ll see me back down here at the yacht club in the future.”

In terms of results, the Spinnaker Division was won by Wilde Rush, with Antipodes, and Bombolo taking the other places. Silver Cloud III won Non-Spinnaker A, with Boomerang and then Finn in the minor places. Crowd favourite Moondance won Non-Spinnaker B, with Currawong in second and Big Blue in third place.

Greg Newton is the Skipper of Antipodes, who placed second in the Spinnaker Division. He is also a very long-term participant and supporter of the Beneteau Cup, and said, “Another great event, and we have competed in over 30 of them on both Sydney Harbour and Pittwater since 1998 in a range of Beneteau yachts, from our 42s7, to the 47.7, 523 and now the Oceanis 45.”

“This time around, as is very often the case, the weather gods smiled on a very diverse fleet that enjoyed two well planned races around our fabulous Harbour, which went ahead without a glitch. Post race festivities were again A1, with great food, refreshments and traditional Beneteau mateship. Definitely looking forward to the Pittwater Beneteau Regatta next May.”

Newton’s loft, Rolly Tasker Sails, also sponsors the event. They provided laminated document sleeves, and product discount vouchers for all participants that can be used right up until the 2023 Sydney event. Mylar gear bags for the podium finishers were a definite hit with the lucky recipients, and Newton’s own one for being second was quickly snapped up by the division’s winner, Wilde Rush.

In this regard Newton commented, “It’s always a pleasure supporting the Beneteau Regatta, as so many of the yachts that we see out there carry Rolly Tasker Sails in either their cruising or racing wardrobe.” 

The next Beneteau Regatta will be held the glorious and picturesque Pittwater on Saturday May 13, 2023. Lock that one in now.

Words & Photos by John Curnow