Tough win for Wot Now
Wood’s slick and serious campaign leading up to the Rolex Sydney Hobart was boosted by an overall win in IRC Racer Division 1 of this weekend’s SSORC hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club for the 31st time.
On a cool Sydney spring day the IRC Racer fleets again sailed on the Manly Circle course area off Queenscliff Head while the Short Ocean Race fleet set off from their Nielsen Park start line for a 19 miler to a laid mark eight miles east-sou’east of North Head.
IRC Racer – Division 1 & 2
The final three races of the six-race series were sailed today in an E/SE breeze that had clocked left by early afternoon and finished up out of the north-east, as forecast.
The race committee was kept busy re-laying marks to square up the course, and with general recalls. The 2.5 knot south running current caught the Division 2 fleet out twice at the start of race 5, forcing race officer Denis Thompson to warn this division they would be individually disqualified if they were judged On Course Side (OCS) a third time.
After yesterday’s two wins from three races and a punishing night sail in atrocious conditions including lightning and rain squalls, the Julian Freeman helmed Wot Now lost none of its momentum on the race track, winning two from three and beating Syd Fischer’s near sistership Ragamuffin by eight points once the final results for the six-race series were tallied.
“When you win it doesn’t hurt so much,” said a relieved and worn out Wood this afternoon as he reflected on the previous 33 hours on the boat.
“We got our act together through the six races; I think the last race was our best.
“It was a well organised regatta that offered great competition and a variety of conditions from 10 to 25 knots.”
Wot Now will be tweaked slightly before the Rolex Trophy, which starts 18 December. “We’ve got a big job list…there’s always work to be done…but nothing too major,” added Wood.
The strength of the core Wot Now crew that rallied to win this weekend’s Championship will see the boat through the Rolex Trophy, Rolex Sydney Hobart and Skandia Geelong Week in late January 2009.
Matthew Short’s TP52 Shortwave had a better day today, picking up a second in race 4 while Queensland import Black Jack managed its first victory of the series, in race 5, to finish third on the pointscore behind Ragamuffin.
Black Jack could not match the TP52s on corrected time in its first outing since the canting-keeler was optimised for an IRC overall win in the upcoming Rolex Sydney Hobart, a result skipper Mark Bradford was expecting, given short course racing is punishing on their handicap rating.
“It was great to get back on the boat and iron out the bugs,” said Bradford this afternoon. “Windward/leewards sharpen the crew work but we’ll never get results against the TP52s, the best rating IRC boats in the world, around the cans.
“When we head out into the open sea for the Rolex Sydney Hobart and we are using the full keel cant at night while other boats have got crew taking a break from the rail, hopefully it will work out for us,” added the champion Etchells sailor.
Bill Ebsary’s IRC Racer Division 2 entry from Pittwater, Le Billet, sailed a hard-fought series to claim its third consecutive divisional win in this annual regatta.
“We are delighted with the series and that we were able to score three in a row. Today was hard work on the Beneteau in the softer conditions but we managed to cap off the day with a third to win the series on a count back,” said Ebsary.
“The courses were spot on, the competition was great and Terra Firma sailed consistently well to take it to the wire,” he added.
Nicholas Bartels’ Sydney 47 Terra Firma from Sandringham Yacht Club in Victoria finished second on 13 points and The Tavern, owned by Ian and Shane Guanaria and sailing for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, finished third in division on 22 points.
Short Ocean Race
The Short Ocean Race fleet also had to contend with the constantly shifting breeze and strong current which made for a tricky 19 mile passage race from a sparkling Sydney Harbour start to a laid mark and return.
All but two got away cleanly with Leslie Green’s Swan 601 Ginger and David Forbes’ Merlin recalled for being OCS after misjudging the outgoing tide. In an amazing turnaround, Merlin showed plenty of fighting spirit to win the PHS division of today’s race and take out the Championship trophy on two points. After leaving Sydney Harbour well back in the fleet, Ginger also managed to claw back her competitors to win the IRC series on three points from David Beaks’ consistent Beneteau 44.7 Mr Beaks Ribs.
Following the midday start, Andrew Short’s maxi ASM Shockwave 5, which placed third overall in the Championship, was able to capitalise on its waterline length advantage as she sped to the Heads in nine minutes. Peter Goldsworthy’s Volvo 60 Getaway-Sailing.com and Bernie Van T’Hof’s Swan 45 Tulip followed the 80 footer out into open water.
Fourth and fifth out of the Harbour were two Rolex Sydney Hobart entries, David Pescud’s Lyons 54 Sailors with disabilities with Rob Reynolds’ (former MHYC Commodore) DK43 Pla Loma IV close astern. Sitting on the gunwale of Pla Loma, navigator and honoured 10-time Rolex Sydney Hobart competitor Julie Hodder took some time out to joke with the press boat that she was really watching television rather than plotting the fastest course to the laid mark on her laptop.
In the Sydney 32 division, Martin Cross’ If scored back to back wins in the two passage races to finish with a three point advantage over Stuart Muirhead’s Quickie.
Principal Race Officer John Hurley was delighted with the IRC and PHS entry level and has had good feedback this afternoon from competitors, particularly the passage racers.
“There’s plenty of grass roots support from the club racers for the Short Ocean Race option. Despite today’s persistently shifting breeze they managed to get a fair race in with a good beat,” said Hurley.
The next in the series of Rolex Sydney Hobart lead-up regattas is the Rolex Trophy One Design Series (12-14 December) and the Rolex Trophy Rating Series (18-21 December) hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
IRC Racer Division 1
1. Wot Now, TP52, Graeme Wood (CYCA, NSW), 8 points
2. Ragamuffin, TP52, Syd Fischer (RSYS, NSW), 16 points
3. Black Jack, Reichel/Pugh P66, Peter Harburg (RQYS, QLD), 17 points
IRC Racer Division 2
1. Le Billet, Beneteau 44.7, Bill Ebsary (RPAYC, NSW), 13 points
2. Terra Firma, Sydney 47, Nicholas Bartels (SYC, VIC), 13 points
3. The Tavern, Sydney 38, Ian and Shane Guanaria (CYCA, NSW), 22 points
Short Ocean Race
1. Ginger, Swan 601, Leslie Green (CYCA, NSW), 3 points
2. Mr Beaks Ribs, Beneteau 44.7, David Beak (CYCA, NSW), 4 points
3. ASM Shockwave 5, Reichel/Pugh 80, Andrew Short (CYCA, NSW), 5 points
1. Merlin, Kaiko 52, David Forbes (RSYS, NSW), 2 points
2. Next Moment, X-442, Ray Hudson (RPAYC, NSW), 7 points
3. More Witchcraft, Dibley 46, John Cameron (CYCA, NSW), 8 points
1. If, Martin Cross (RPAYC, NSW)
2. Quickie, Stuart Muirhead (CYCA, NSW)
3. Larrikin, Ross Glasson (CYCA, NSW)
For more details see the SSORC website http://www.ssorc.mhyc.com.au