300 strong turn out

Di Pearson previews the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta

Friday March 6th 2009, Author: Di Pearson, Location: United Kingdom
An ecstatic Middle Harbour Yacht Club Commodore Martin Hill has announced that entries for the Club’s annual Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta, to be sailed this weekend 7-8 March, have exceeded 300 entries from Australia wide.

“The Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta continues to grow and grow. In the future I would love to see over 1000 boats competing, something along the lines of Kiel Week in Germany. I would one day like to see a photo of 1000 boats on the Harbour for our regatta,” Commodore Hill said.

Encompassing 15 classes, due to the high number of entries and diversity of boats, some classes will be split into divisions, so the visual on Sydney Harbour will be spectacular.

The competition for the brand new Audi Q5 compact SUV that Audi has generously offered as the major prize will be second to none and competitors have been putting in extra practice time in their efforts to be in the running. The prize will go to the division winner who wins the Audi Final Challenge.

The entry list would be the envy of any regatta; the cream of Australian sailing talent is spread throughout the numerous classes.

IRC Racer class
This class is eligible for the Audi IRC Australian Championship and features yachts as long as Andrew Short’s Reichel/Pugh 80, Andrew Short Marine and Bob Oatley’s Reichel/Pugh 66 Wild Oats X, down to smaller yachts such as Martin Cross’ Sydney 32 If.

Some of the newest yachts highlighting the latest technology include front-runners Michael Hiatt’s Living Doll (Vic), Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki (NSW) and Alan Brierty’s Limit (WA).

Hiatt and his Farr 55 crew came out and won Division 1 at Skandia Geelong Week in January, their first major regatta. The Melbourne yachtsman candidly stated: “We will definitely be at the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta. It’s a great event with the best competition - and we get the bonus opportunity of winning an Audi.”

Loki, Ainsworth’s new Reichel/Pugh 63 went head to head with Limit, a Reichel/Pugh 62, at Skandia Geelong Week. Loki prevailed with a third overall following on from a win the Skandia Docklands Invitational a few days before. Limit finished outside the top five. The grudge match will continue this weekend.

Martin Hill says: “I think the IRC racing will be exciting after seeing the results of Skandia Geelong Week. Living Doll will be the benchmark and it will be interesting to see how she goes in bumpier conditions. Loki and Limit clashed closely and I expect they will be at the top of the scoreboard.”

Then again, Hill did not take into account boats that did not make it to Geelong, including two TP52s; Bob Steel’s 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winner, Quest and fourth overall, Ragamuffin (Syd Fischer). Graeme Wood’s Wot Now, third overall in the Sydney Hobart and second at Skandia Geelong Week or Geoff Ross’ Reichel/Pugh 55, Yendys and so many others, in what Hill describes as: “A true IRC racing fleet.”

In between, there are many Sydney 36CR’s, Beneteaus and other designs. Peter Hill’s Ruth Magic, a Beneteau 45 from the host club and Alegria, Queenslander Rod Jones' Archambault 40 are expected to be the top performers from the mid-range yachts.

PHS Spinnaker Divisions

A huge entry list of over 100 boats of varying shapes and sizes and some famous names - boats and owners, will add to the colour and high profile the Regatta is enjoying.

Bob Oatley’s son Ian will be on the start with is Farr 36, 10, along with Martin Hill’s Farr 40 Estate Master and 86 year-old John Walker with his three-quarter tonner, Impeccable. All Middle Harbour YC members, the three have posted some memorable results. Walker and his yacht have contested 25 Sydney-Hobart races with multiple top three placings.

Others expected to do well are the 1981 Sydney-Hobart winner, Zeus II, Jim Dunstan’s Currawong 30, Ray Stone’s Sydney 32, Razors Edge and James Francis’ Mind Over Matter, a Young 88. Two of the largest boats in the fleet are the famous 12 metre America’s Cup yacht Kookaburra (Doug Shields, Vic) and Sydney, Charles Curran’s Sydney 60.

PHS Non-Spinnaker

A sizeable number of boat owners have opted to take life a little easier and sail without spinnaker. Nonetheless, they are just as competitive as the rest.

Big fans of Audi vehicles, John and Kim Clinton of band “The Wolverines” fame, will race their Beneteau 523, Holy Cow! alongside racing rules expert Steve Hatch with his Sydney 36CR M, Col Wildman’s Beneteau 43 Oarsome and Tig Thomas’ Mystere 26 Plum Crazy.

Thomas is a former Middle Harbour YC Commodore and during the 1970s the now 82 year-old sailed his famous Half Tonner Plum Crazy to many podium places and represented Australian internationally. With his latest boat, the name carries on.

One Design fleets

The multiple one-design fleets this year are the Farr 30, J24, Cavalier 28, Dragon, Etchells, Yngling, Adams 10, Sydney 38, International SB3 and for the first time, the Flying Tiger 10m class.

In the Farr 30s, the prominent entries are current Mumm 30 world champion Guy Stening and his Optimum crew and former 18ft skiff whizz, Doug Cameron ( Clandestine), who regularly wins Sydney Harbour club races for the boat’s owner Scott Ryrie. John Formosa sailing Yandoo could put the cat amongst the pigeons.

Last year’s winner and host club member Doug McGain ( Code Violation), an Olympic coach, and sailing journo Bob Ross ( Stamped Urgent) are the names to watch in the J/24s.

The Cavalier 28 fleet has increased in size, but the front runners from last year, Richard Pearse ( Dancelot) and Brian McConaghy ( U2), remain the benchmarks. However, Alasdair Thomson ( Beausoleil) finished just outside the top three in 2008 and will be hungry for a podium position this time around. .

A former Olympic class, the Dragon keelboat still attracts the big names in our sport and. Norman Longworth ( Karabos VIII) and Carl Ryves ( Sidewinder) add a bit of celebrity status this year. Ryves represented Australia in the Flying Dutchman at the 1968 Olympic Games and at the Admiral’s Cup and went on to sail in the America’s Cup.

Longworth won the historic Milson’s Cup in February with his cruiser/racer Aurelia 11 and is also a gun Dragon sailor with an intimate knowledge of Sydney Harbour. Tony Pfeiffer ( Magic) will keep his fellow RSYS members honest.

More names in the Etchells fleet, with Sir James Hardy’s son David taking the helm of Foolhardy, standout all-rounder Nev Wittey steering Yandoo XX and fourth placegetter from 2008, Steven Tracy once again at the helm of Ganesh.

A member of last year’s winning crew, Karyn Gojnich ( Evie), along with the second and third placegetters, Hamish Jarrett ( Pourquoi) and Jordan Reece ( Meridian) are expected to be prominent in the Yngling three-person keelboat again.

Last year’s Audi car winners Ben Nossiter ( Sirius) and Brian Lees ( Contentious) will go head to head in the Adams 10 class, their partiality for the Audi Q5 SUV has had their pair out training and updating sail wardrobes.

Nossiter won the major prize of the Audi A4 last year, after winning the Audi Final Challenge, while Lees won his Audi A3 in the lottery held at the prize giving. Second and third overall last year, Jim Curtis ( Another Dilemma) and Mark Connor ( Jungle Juice) will be out to stop them and the rest in the all-Middle Harbour YC fleet.

It will be open slather for the Sydney 38 prize as all of those entered have had their day on the podium. Geoff Bonus ( Calibre), Steven Proud ( Swish) and Gordon Ketelbey ( Zen) are just a taste of what to expect.

In the International SB3 class, SB3’s Tom Rosoman ( A3) and Kai Timm ( Oceanburo) finished in the top three at Skandia Geelong Week, so are undoubtedly the crews to beat.

The Flying Tiger 10M sports boat class makes its Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta debut on the weekend. The ones to watch are the top three from the NSW Championship last month; Ophir Bruce and Neil Tavener Balmain Tiger (Neil Hamilton) and Hello Tiger (Andrew Bristow).

PHS Spinnaker Sports Boats

Sports Boats represent the ‘thrills and spills’ at the regattas they attend and it will be no different this weekend. Health Walters and his Melges 24 No Comment crew are the standouts, but Bruce Hollis and his Thompson 7 ( Zip) crew are due for a win and should be in the top three.

Garry Corstorphan and his Young 840 Youngstar have also put in good results over the past two seasons. No matter who wins, the competition is certain to be rife with over 20 entries received.

PHS Spinnaker Classic Yachts

Featuring some of Sydney’s ‘elegant ladies’ of the Harbour, spectators will enjoy the sight of such yachts as John Sturrock’s Eudoria, Ian Kortlang’s Antara and Fred Bevis’ Warana, among others as they gracefully slide around the Harbour.

The Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta is conducted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club with the assistance of CYCA, Manly Yacht Club, RANSA, Royal Prince Alfred, Royal Prince Edward, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and Sydney Amateur Sailing Club. Racing will commence from midday on Saturday.

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