Sydney Harbour Regatta's a wild two-day ride

LOOKING GOOD: Racing offshore in the Sydney Harbour Regatta in  Saturday’s idyllic nor’easter. Photo: Matthew King
LOOKING GOOD: Racing offshore in the Sydney Harbour Regatta in Saturday’s idyllic nor’easter. Photo: Matthew King

BEAUTIFUL one day, dreadful the next.

It just about sums up Sydney’s climate, Sydney life, and especially Sydney FC defenders prone to B-grade acting.

Unfortunately, last weekend’s Sydney Harbour Regatta paid the consequences, with racing mostly abandoned on the final day due to a 35-knot southerly that starkly contrasted Saturday’s idyllic nor’easter.

NOT SO GOOD: Nine Dragons comes a cropper during Sunday's wild southerly. Photo: Andrea Francolini

NOT SO GOOD: Nine Dragons comes a cropper during Sunday's wild southerly. Photo: Andrea Francolini

Middle Harbour Yacht Club, the host, had no choice but to bring the Open (IRC/ORCi) divisions and Sydney 38s inside the harbour for one race while cancelling many others.

“We managed to get in as much racing as we could with what we had,” sailing manager David Staley said.

“The wind was all over the shop and it was choppy on a big swell off the Heads.”

It was a real dampener for Toronto yacht Challenge, skippered by Greg Croak, as it curtailed the NSW Sydney 38 championship. 

Challenge led overnight after two wins and a second in the opening races, but recorded a fourth in what became the final race to slip just behind Pittwater’s Conspiracy on countback.

Relatively new to the class and more at home on flat water, Croak was rapt with their opening day on the offshore course. “The first race was around nine knots and the breeze slowly built to 15-16 knots – near perfect,” he said.

“I’ve never been in a closer battle than race 3 with Conspiracy; we wouldn’t have beaten them by more than a metre, and the lead changed all race.”

The Cavalier 28 and Yngling classes both cut their NSW championships short. It left Craig Mitchell’s Centaurus as the Cav champion and Miss Pibb (Hamish Jarrett) as the Yngling victor.

“I guess the weather has rules of its own,” Jarrett said. “That’s the first time I remember racing being cancelled in 12 years of the Sydney Harbour Regatta.”

Being hauled inside the harbour didn’t curb Marcus Blackmore’s enthusiasm as his new TP52 Hooligan had four from four in the Open Class Division 1. It was Blackmore’s first outing aboard the former Azzurra.

“I’ve got a very talented crew and [Olympic coach] Victor Kovalenko as our coach,” Blackmore said.

“We had a wonderful run – 24 knots downwind – today as this boat is easier to steer and doesn’t dig the bow in like the last one.

“There are nine new TP52s being built in Europe, so if anyone wants to give us a run for our money – there’ll be a few boats on the market.”

Ed Psaltis is also enjoying life in his Sydney 36 Midnight Rambler, winning the Open Class Division 2 with a perfect score, although that included a dead heat in race 3.

The Adams 10 class soldiered on to complete six races, with the aptly named Rock Solid scoring four wins.

Belmont’s Tom Braidwood didn’t compete.

The sports boats were cancelled, leaving Andrew York ahead with three straight wins aboard Reo Speedwagon. Following suit were the J70, Super 12, Super 30 and PHS Division 3 divisions.

Darryl Hodgkinson took the Super 12 series with the Carkeek 40 Victoire, bought six months ago to replace his 2013 Sydney-Hobart winner of the same name.

Victoire won two from three races to beat Lightspeed, an MC38.

“The Super 12 is a great concept,” Hodgkinson said. “You go upwind and downwind very quickly in this class and we’re looking forward to more of the same.”

Next stop for many of these boats is Sail Port Stephens, April 9-15, and hopefully some postcard-perfect Hunter weather.

Outboard power options

THE vagaries of weather won’t be a problem for Cobalt’s new 30SC bowrider, which was designed to “cruise” at over 50 knots with a cluster of outboards.  At the first sign of gathering storm clouds, you can fire up the twin 250-350hp motors on its tail and be sipping gin on your porch when the lightning starts.

As the flagship in Cobalt's outboard range, it has an all-new, kevlar-reinforced hull with 21-degrees of deadrise for a soft ride. If you happen to be caught short, this maxi-sized bowrider has a step-down bathroom. There’s also cruising comforts like a fridge.

Old boats still looking good

THE biennial Classic and Wooden Boat Festival returns to the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour from April 13-15. I know you’ve waited two long years for it but old boats only get better with age.

Among the star attractions will be the 1924 ketch Hurrica V, featured in The Great Gatsby, along with a huge range of boats, from Halvorsen cruisers to historic skiffs, classic speedboats, steam launches and workboats.

Visitors will learn traditional maritime skills with line throwing, sculling and caulking demonstrations throughout the festival weekend. There’s also the Quick and Dirty boat building competition. Festival entry is free.