The 175th Australia Day Regatta, sailed into the nation’s history when more than 160 harbour racing yachts, classic yachts, ocean racers and modern and historical skills celebrated this remarkable yachting anniversary on Sydney Harbour.
The regatta is the world’s oldest, continuously-conducted annual sailing regatta, a celebration of the arrival in 1788 of the First Fleet to found the penal colony that eventually became the great Commonwealth of Australia.
Despite a morning sea fog that blanketed the city and suburbs and the harbour, the misty conditions cleared somewhat and a light east to north-easterly breeze cooled conditions and provided close racing around fixed marks.
In Hobart, Australia’s second oldest seaport, yachts, dinghies and windsurfers competed in the Australia Day Green Island race and the Sandy Bay Regatta.
Another icon of Australian yachting, the 1970 and 1977 America’s Cup Challenger Gretel II took line honours in the 40 nautical mile Green Island Race, helmed by her 1977 skipper, 85-year-old Gordon Ingate.
On Sydney Harbour, a fleet of 49 yachts, mostly built of wood, many gaff-rigged and several more than a hundred years ago, contested the Classic Yacht division.
Winner of the Australia Day Regatta Trophy and the Australia Day Council Trophy was Antares (R Keeson and D Wood). The Centenary of Federation Gold Medal went to Reverie, owned by Nigel Berlyn and John Barclay.
Division 1 non-spinnaker saw Peter Davenport’s Arcturus II win from Molly (Frank Hetherton) and Willyama (R Barron/S Sanlorenzo/Trish Stanley). Division 2 non-spinnaker went the former Yachting NSW president Lyndsay Brown and Jim Nettlefold with their Folkboat Dreamtime. Second place went to Intrepid (Gary Ferress), third to Primary Wave (Ronald Montague) which also took line honours.
Division 1 saw a win by Barracuda (Greg Nolan) from Akela (Alan Mather) and Scarlett O’Hara (Robert Skol) while in Division 2, line and handicap honours went to Balmain Tiger (Neil Hamilton & Brian Wood) from Senta (Terry & Julie Clarke) and Brittania (Glen Ilic).
In Division 3, Gingerbread Man (Doug Russell) won to the double of line and handicap honours from The Holy Gale (Paul Harris) and Antares (Costa Rozakis & Anthony Tyson). Winner of the International Ynglings was Hamish Jarrett’s Miss Pibb from Karma (Gary Wogas) and Black Adder (Gary Pearce).
Only four Historical Skiffs turned out with Tangalooma (Peter Le Grove) winning from Australia IV (Eric Priestley) and Australia (Chris Haskard).
The Botany Bay race saw headwinds heading south and fickle breezes on the return leg, with some yachts not finishing until 7pm, after more than eight hours at sea on a hot, humid and misty day.
Line honours went to Jim Cooney’s famous conventional maxi, Brindabella, giving her the Geoff Lee Trophy, while the City of Sydney Sesquicentenary Trophy went to Rod Wills’ X43 Great Expectations.
In the PHS division which decided the City of Sydney Trophy, Great Expectations took just under seven hours to sail the course, winning on corrected time from Lisdillon (Desmond Fagan) third to Solahart-Rum Jungle (Scott Russell).
Sydney skipper Evan Walker and his crew from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia have won the 2011 Warren Jones International Youth Regatta, they emerged the winners after a day of hard fought match racing, with the final against Perth’s David Gilmour going the full five races.
“It is unexpected,” was Walker’s confession when he came ashore. “We are ecstatic, it was a long day, we felt powered up going into the final, after winning the semis in two races.”
Perth turned on classic Swan River conditions, with a fickle south easterly in the morning, which was replaced by a gusty sea breeze in the afternoon.
It was a day packed with rivalries, trans-Tasman, trans-Australia, and trans-Sydney Harbour, and tack-for-tack, gybe-for-gybe racing.
In an east versus west contest in one all-Australian semi-final, David Gilmour beat the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s David Chapman 2–1.
The other semi was that age old rivalry Australia versus New Zealand, with Walker scoring two straight wins over Auckland’s Will Tiller, last year’s winner of the event.
Though Walker, from the Cruising Yacht Club on the south side of Sydney Harbour, didn’t face Chapman from the north shore’s Yacht Squadron, there it no doubt he would have been under pressure to make sure he finished higher up the leaderboard than his cross-harbour rival.
With a steady 15 to 20 knot sea breeze blowing for the final in the afternoon, the stage was set for a great competition, and Walker against Gilmour didn’t disappoint.
Rarely more than a boat’s length apart through all five races, Walker opened the scoring, before Gilmour levelled it, and the race trading went on until the fifth race was won.
For Walker and his crew of Edward Hackney, Will McKenzie, Tom Scardifield and Henry Kernot, this was their second regatta win in two weeks, having collected the Colin Mullins trophy last week, in a contrastingly light wind event, beating David Gilmour by a more comfortable 3–1 margin in that series.
In the final day’s racing the Sydney team seemed to have the advantage upwind, while the Perth crew was stronger under spinnaker, so with a downwind final leg Walker’s advantage was never safe.
The Warren Jones International Youth Regatta was hosted by the Royal Perth Yacht Club, and organised by Swan River Sailing.
Blackmore’s Hooligan routs opposition in Audi IRC Series
Marcus Blackmore did not have to sail the final race of the Audi IRC Series on Australia Day, but the Sydney yachtsman said there was no way his crew would miss the final race – and the TP52 crew came out and won the final race to make it six wins from eight races to claim a 10 point overall victory of the Division A series.
Melbourne yachtsman Michael Hiatt sailed a good last race, finishing second to Hooligan for second place overall with his Farr 55 Living Doll. Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki finished third overall in the Audi Victoria Race Week event.
Blackmore was disappointed in claims that his boat is just a regatta boat.
“It is a regatta boat, that’s what I bought it for, but even in winds over 20 knots we were winning, so it is more than ‘just a regatta boat’,” he said at Royal Geelong Yacht Club.
“It was great to win the final race. I wanted to go out and change the crew around a bit, but Tom (tactician Tom Slingsby) said we should go out to win and the rest of the crew agreed,” Blackmore said.
Usually the line honours leader, Loki struggled in the early stages of the final race. She spent most of her time on the course playing catch-up, before finally taking the lead on the penultimate leg to take line honours, but was down in eighth overall, Ainsworth not putting enough distance between Loki and the rest of the fleet.
Blackmore, who is originally from Queensland, took a big early lead of the three-lap windward/leeward race, with Living Doll and Rob Date’s RP52 Scarlet Runner giving chase.
The Hooligan line honours lead looked insurmountable, but changes occurred throughout the race, with some great duels going on in the shifty breeze that pressured up and down regularly, just to make tacticians’ jobs even harder. Hooligan, Living Doll and Loki had spectators spellbound as the lead continued to change.
Hooligan’s tactician and three-time Laser world champion, Tom Slingsby, explained.
“The shifts were big, I noted one at 35 degrees and the breeze clocked between 6 and12 knots.”
“No side of the course was favoured, it was all about timing; it was an ‘our turn – your turn’ sort of cycle. Whoever got the last shift got the edge,” Slingsby said.
Hooligan (1 point), Living Doll (2) and Loki (3) are now the top three on the Class A leaderboard for the fifth running of the Audi IRC Australian Championship.
Round 2 of the prestigious Championship is the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta in March. All three yacht owners have said they will be on the start line.
William Tiller steers Kiwis to Hardy Cup victory
Three 21-year-old sailors from Auckland’s Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron outsailed their Australian opposition to regain the prestigious Hardy Cup ISAF 3, under-25 match racing event on Sydney Harbour in February.
Over the past four years, young Australian crews have won the Hardy Cup twice, and now New Zealanders have notched up their second victory over the same period.
William Tiller, Harry Thurston and Shaun Mason started the final day with a 2-1 semi-final win against the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s Jordan Reece and then went on to defeat the defending champion Evan Walker in three straight matches in the final.
Over the four day regatta, Tiller and his crew, who sail for Full Metal Jacket Racing, lost only three match races in two round-robins and the semi-final.
The performance of Tiller and his crew epitomises the quality of match racing helming, tactics and crew work that constantly emerges from New Zealand in the wake of the nation’s ongoing involvement in the America’s Cup.
Graduates of the RNZYS youth training scheme, they have been match racing together and against each other for the past three years. Tiller has twice won the Governor’s Cup in California, while Thurston sailed with another New Zealander, Adrian Short, when he won the Hardy Cup in 2009.
While Tiller and Thurston are Kiwis born and bred, Mason began his sailing in Mirror dinghies at Portsmouth, England, before his family moved to New Zealand.
Now fulltime sailors, the trio are heading for another match racing regatta in Wellington and in March will spend a month in California, contesting the Ficker Cup and then, hopefully, the prestigious Congressional Cup. All this leads towards the international circuit of match racing at a senior level.
The last day’s Hardy Cup racing, off Point Piper in a shifty 8-12 knots nor’easter, saw boatspeed, tactics and use of the racing rules play significant roles in the outcome of most races.
However, the Australia versus New Zealand final proved somewhat of an anti-climax, with William Tiller beating Evan Walker 3-0, winning by 22 seconds in the first match, 20 seconds in the second and by a close six seconds in the third and deciding match.
Tiller used superior boatspeed to completely outsail Walker in the first match of the final, and in the second the New Zealand crew’s rig setting proved superior in the fresher breeze. Nor did a penalty on the first windward leg help the Australians.
Walker tried his best tactical manoeuvres in the third match but was still outsailed by Tiller.
“We sailed a lot better as the regatta progressed and everything fell into place for us,” Tiller said after the final. “It was our first win in six months, so we are delighted with the result and hopefully we can maintain that form in Wellington and then in Los Angeles.”
In the petit final to decide third and fourth placings overall, Adrian Short added to New Zealand’s good day by defeating Jordan Reece 2-0.
Darryl Hodgkinson and his Victoire crew remained patient to take out the Flinders Islet Race overall last month, while Bill Wild and his Rodd & Gunn Wedgetail claimed line honours in the CYCA Blue Water Pointscore series race after hanging on all night and early morning waiting for a decent wind to reappear.
Hodgkinson’s Beneteau First 45 finished the race in the elapsed time of 18 hours 12 minutes 30 seconds to secure overall victory of close to four minutes over Hugh Torode’s Beneteau 40.7, Shepherd Centre. Roger Hickman’s Farr 43 Wild Rose rounded out the podium places, even though she finished last at 4.41pm.
Victoire’s win has lifted her to second overall in the BWPS, five points ahead of Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin and eight behind Loki which retired from the race and has used it as the drop. Hodgkinson, from the CYCA has had a run of wins of late and was pleased with this latest win.
“An amazing race, interesting, long,” the plastic surgeon said. “We had a great start then it all went pear-shaped. We went the wrong way and then the breeze died. We had our Code Zero up at 1.00am still sailing towards Flinders and finally got there around 4.30am.”
Like the rest, Hodgkinson expected the north-easterly to fill in, so stuck to the coast. “It (the wind) kept dropping out, then it would come back, finally a north-westerly came in this morning,” he said.
After a cracking start in a 12-14 knot north-easterly at 8.00pm, the 92 nautical mile race became a shambles when the breeze shut down shortly after 10.00pm and was a glass out until around 9.00am the next morning.
None of the 15-boat fleet banked on such a long race. The prediction was for 15-21 knot winds clocking from north to north-east throughout the race and expected to go north-west in the early morning, which would have been ideal.
When it became clear the race would head well into Saturday, BWPS leader and race record holder, Loki (Stephen Ainsworth), along with EZ Street (Bruce Dover) and Reverie (John Turnbull) radioed to say they had retired. Other commitments had forced their hands.
The remainder of the fleet had to wait it out until shortly after 10.00am when light north-westerly went around to the west and kicked in at up to 20 knots. After struggling in the light conditions, Queensland’s Rodd & Gunn Wedgetail made it from the Hornby Light at South Head to the Rushcutters Bay finish line in just 14 minutes!
Greg Zyner’s Copernicus continues to lead the Tasman (PHS) by seven points over Victoire, with Shepherd Centre third, a further five points adrift, with Loki just one point behind her.
In the Cape Byron Pointscore, Ragamuffin remains the leader from Colin Woods’ Pretty Fly III by six points, with Copernicus two points away in third place.
Australian F18 Catamaran National Championships
The 2011 Australian F18 Catamaran National Championships were held at the Gosford Sailing Club 21-24 January. The 33 strong fleet carved up the racecourse at Brisbane Waters in ideal gusty conditions under clear, sunny skies.
These Cats comply within a box rule that offers fast acceleration, excitement and a few hair-raising moments among a highly talented bunch of sailors including, many A Class skippers, an America’s Cup strategist, F18 World Champions, Olympians and AC45 aspirants.
The final day served up to 25 knots with huge bullets and some flukey nor’west and sou’westerly winds that came in significant shifts out of the west.
The father and son duo of Greg and Brett Goodall from Bendigo in Victoria got up for the overall win, while Steve Brewin and Jack Benson snared the silver. In third place were the red-hot young guns, Jason Waterhouse and Josh McKnight from Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
There were three boats tied for fourth place. Emirates Team New Zealand’s Adam Beashel and Grant Pewell ultimately got it on a count back from Warren Guinea and Marja Van Helden, while the Far North Queenslanders, Adam Beattie and Jamie Leitner took sixth place.
“It’s been a long time coming as we have been the maiden in five Nationals before and it was great to finally get across the line and win it,” a very happy Greg Goodall said.
Brett reckons their success can be put down to time spent out on the water together and racing as teammates rather than as father and son.
“We’ve been sailing together for about six years now and we’re in tune with each other. We really don’t talk that much. We just know where we are going, stick to the game plan and off we go.
Looking ahead to the F18 World Championships in Lake Balaton, Hungary in July he said winning this event is a real confidence booster to know that they are fast.
Third place-getter Jason Waterhouse and his crew, Josh McKnight, fresh from 12th place in the recent Moth Worlds at Lake Macquarie, have a prosperous multihull career ahead of them. Their eyes are firmly set on the F18 Worlds and getting involved in the AC45s, being raced in the lead series prior to the 34th America’s Cup Challenger Series that will be played out on AC72 Winged Sail Catamarans.
Alex Whitworth to receive Cruising Club of America’s Blue Water Medal
The Cruising Club of America (CCA) will award its prestigious 2010 Blue Water Medal to Australian Alex Whitworth for a circumnavigation of the world via the Northwest Passage West to East. The first Blue Water Medal was awarded in 1923 and it is given “for a most meritorious example of seamanship, the recipient to be selected from among the amateurs of all the nations.”
The award will be presented on March 4, 2011 by CCA Commodore Sheila McCurdy during the CCA’s annual Awards Dinner at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan.
Whitworth was born in an air raid shelter on the island of Malta (Southern Europe) in 1942 and spent most of his childhood near Manchester, England or wherever his father was stationed at the time. His father, Alexander Whitworth, a Royal Navy pilot, taught him to sail at a young age. At 19, Whitworth also joined the Royal Navy and became an Observer on carrier-based Sea Vixen aircraft until 1965.
In 1966, Whitworth emigrated to Australia and joined Adastra Aerial Surveys where he worked both full and part time until 1975. In 1974, he received a B.A. (Honours) in Political Science from Melbourne University and in 1982 an MBA from the University of New South Wales.
In 1993, Whitworth and his partner Hilary Yerbury purchased the sailboat Berrimilla, a Brolga 33 designed by Australian Peter Joubert. Since the purchase, Whitworth has circumnavigated the world twice with Berrimilla.
The first time began in 2004 when Whitworth sailed to the UK via Cape Horn. On the way, Berrimilla was in frequent contact with Astronaut Leroy Chiao, Commander of the International Space Station (ISS) and for much of the time, Chiao was Whitworth’s nearest neighbour when the ISS orbit crossed her track.
When Whitworth arrived in the UK, Berrimilla competed in the 2005 Rolex Fastnet Race, finishing 11th overall and second in the double-handed division. After the Fastnet, Berrimilla returned to Sydney via the Cape of Good Hope, arriving just in time to sail in the 2005 Rolex Sydney-Hobart race.
The second circumnavigation began in 2008 when as a result of Berrimilla’s encounter with the ISS, Whitworth was invited by NASA scientists to rendezvous at Beechy Island in the Canadian Arctic. The plan was to view the solar eclipse on August 1, 2008, so Whitworth set out on April 10, 2008, sailing directly from Sydney to the Aleutians (Alaska) and then through the Northwest Passage.
Due to dangerous ice conditions, Berrimilla bypassed Beechey Island and arrived in Falmouth (UK) in September. That winter, the boat competed in the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race. After the race, Berrimilla sailed home to Australia via the Cape of Good Hope and the Kerguelen Islands and arrived in Sydney in March 2010 having completed her second circumnavigation of the globe.
In addition to the Blue Water Medal, the CCA will present the Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship to Alessandro Di Benedetto (Rome, Italy) for his resourcefulness when jury rigging Findomestic, a 21-foot monohull, near the rounding of Cape Horn in 2009. Alessandro is known for his single-handed open ocean voyages and has been commended for the many records he has surpassed.
Pirate boat regatta will help needy kids
If you are boating on the Georges River on Sunday 27 March, keep a sharp weather eye out for strange vessels with scurvy crews flying the Jolly Roger, particularly around Kogarah Bay … because these be pirate waters!
It is also the day St George Motor Boat Club gets together with Variety, the Children’s charity for the annual putt-putt and classic boat regatta to raise funds for special needs children … a great excuse to break out your eye-patch, cutlass and parrot and join in the swashbuckling fun.
Variety organiser Geof Davis says even if you don’t know a mizzen mast from a poop deck, there will be plenty of action and high sea skullduggery awaiting all hands.
“In the lead-up to the event, skippers and crews are encouraged to raise money for Variety’s needy kids and theme themselves and their vessels as pirate ships, the more buccaneering the better,” Geoff said.
“The regatta is open to putters, classic cabin cruisers and steamboats, with prizes for all categories including best themed pirate boat and crew. There is also an award for the highest fundraising crew,” he added.
The family fun, boat registration and dockside breakfast weighs anchor at 9am, with the regatta trials and pirate boat warm-up shoving off at 10am. There is a $50 donation per boat entry.
Spectators are free and there will be prizes for the best children’s pirate costume. For further information call 0418 620 823 or 0418 648 210.
A Pirate Looks at Sixty
It is unlikely so many middle-aged men in Hawaiian shirts and board shorts have ever filled Sydney’s Opera House.
An adoring legion of fans fondly known as Parrotheads were there for the Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer band concert.
“This was a performance like no other I’ve experienced,” said Peter Bain who had flown down from Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast escaping the recent floods so that he could soak up Buffett-mania.
“You just had to be there!” he enthused.
From the very moment Buffett and his red-hot band kicked things off with Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, the audience were on their feet, singing along to Buffet favourites. Songs like Come Monday, Margaritaville, Fruitcakes, Cheeseburger in Paradise and It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere.
“This was one big party,” Bain said. “And band member Robert Greenidge has to be one of the best steel drum players in the world.”
And while some ageing rock stars try to cover up their age, Buffett celebrated the ripe old age of 64 by turning the Beatles’ When I’m 64 into a moment of sheer tropical delight.
“He even took the piss out of himself, telling the audience that he had tried to get in touch with people he’d met last time he was in Australia 24 years ago … ‘and they are all dead’!”
Buffett said he was donating a large amount from the Opera House concert to the Queensland flood appeal. Beer sales at the Opera House have rarely been bettered.
A world-class field of kayakers headlined last month’s Sunshine Skins Regatta held at Lake Kawana, Queensland.
Members of the English national sprint kayak squad with world K1 200m champion Ed McKeever and teammates Ed Cox, Jon Schofield, Kristian Reeves and Liam Heath were in camp on the Sunshine Coast ahead of the European summer and the upcoming 2012 London Olympic qualifiers.
Making a big impression at the meet was veteran paddler Chris ‘Gich’ Alagich who proved he has still got what it takes to make his mark on the world scene.
The blue riband Open K1 200 was won by Great Britain’s European K2 champion Liam Heath with Schofield second and McKeever third but Petho believes Alagich, who came fourth could trouble the British at the Olympics.
At 34, Alagich is showing no signs of slowing down, according to National Talent Identification and Development coach Peter Petho.
“I expect Chris to make the Olympic team next year. I can see him doing the singles or the doubles for Australia in London,” Petho said.
Sadly, while Alagich still has to work, Britain’s best are bolstered by plenty of funds to be successful at their own Games, having access to a portion of the targeted £1,835m ($AUS2,945m) Olympic Lottery money.
“Chris works his butt off trying to make a living; but in England they have money coming into the sport so their budget is bigger,” Petho said.
South Australian Alagich moved to the Sunshine Coast to link with Petho in an attempt to earn a berth at the 2012 Games, following the disappointment of just missing out for Beijing.
Alagich and 17-year-old Sunshine Coast talent Charlie Copeland then combined to win the Open K2 200m, which was not contested by the British.
“Chris is twice as old as Charlie and they won the doubles with an excellent paddling display,” Petho said.
After also winning the u18 K2 200 with Stephen Giraud, Copeland then featured amid a hot field in the Open K1 200m final, finishing sixth.
Copeland, who only resumed serious training in February after three months on the sidelines recuperating from a broken foot last October, thought his recovery was going well.
“It was very frustrating not being able to paddle for so long. I think I’m going alright and hope to be almost back to my best for the Nationals in Adelaide this month,” Charlie said.
Given the significant community contribution the Rally has made over three years the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority has again offered to support the Louisiades Yacht Rally.
The Louisiades Archipelago is 100 nautical miles east of ‘mainland’ Papua New Guinea, 520 nautical miles north-east of Cairns.
While the Rally is fun and enjoyable for the yachties, there is also a serious side … to give something back to the community.
Few yachties go to the Louisiades just to look ... they get there and realise that they can help the local folk who have so little. For the last three years the Rally has provided welcome cash and made donations to local health centres and a marine ambulance. Support for individual villages has included solar lighting kits, fishing nets and water tanks.
The rally yachts also take up many donations including clothes and medical supplies (to date a heart monitor, asthma ventilator, pulseoxymeter, blood glucose monitor and defibrillator have been donated).
The Rally leaves Cairns 17 September 2010, yachts muster a week prior at Yorkeys Knob Boating Club for briefings and preparation.
Further information www.louisiadesrally.com
Manning Marathon Sailing Regatta
Fifty five boats in nine divisions competed in Taree Aquatic Club’s Manning Marathon Sailing Regatta held on 9 January.
The fastest boat overall was Buckle Up – a Boatspeed 23 Trailer Yacht skippered by Peter Winter from Fennell Bay in a time of 1:39:28.
Three boats competed in the Outright Line Honours division with Lazy Bones (Nacra 5.8 catamaran) skippered by Ross Kneebone taking line honours in 1:49:47, followed in a close race for second between local VS boats Stowe skippered by Gordon Fokes and Raptor skippered by Robert Baker with Stowe beating Raptor by one second.
In Trailer Yacht with spinnaker division, Cloud Walking (Lidgard 25) skippered by R Quirk was second behind Buckle Up, and third was Willaroo (RL24) skippered by Phillip Booker.
In the Trailer Yacht without spinnaker division, first was Sapphire (Tropic 5.2) skippered by Keith Buls, second was Roobarb (Careel 22L) skippered by Kim Russel and third was Moondance (Jarcat 5) with Mike Keefe on the helm.
Robert Fish sailing Dark Side of the Moon took out the NS14 division, with Salty Lips skippered by Scott Day coming second closely followed by John Corbett’s Silver Fox.
In the Monohull division Len Mancell in his MG14 Even Flow took the honours, with VJ The Reaper sailed by John Shaw second and Richard Dodds in his MG14 That’s Gold coming in third.
Five Corsairs competed in their division with first place taken by Ferocious skippered by Cameron Russell.
In the Cataraman division Limerick (Arrow) skippered by Ian Oxenford was first on corrected time, with the Hobie 16 High Flyer skippered by Chris Bourke second followed in third by Pendragon (Pendragon 16) skippered by Ray Lance.
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