Photo: Bob Fowler

Kiwi visitors dominate

Howard Spencer's team claims the MC38 Australian Season Championship on Pittwater

Sunday February 15th 2015, Author: Lisa Ratcliff, Location: Australia

Howard Spencer’s Menace, sailing for the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in Auckland, opened its 2015 MC38 Australian Season Championship with a decisive 10 point break at the Summer Pittwater Regatta that wrapped up today.

Victory was always the intention and the owner is delighted, said boat captain Chris Reid. “It’s a nice little jump to start with. We were expecting it to be a tightly fought battle, this fleet is packed full of great sailors. We have a very good group on Menace. When you get into situations it’s not a big deal; there’s no yelling…it’s a happy boat.”

As the Australian fleet laid idle over Christmas, Menace campaigned during the Auckland summer. Time on the water combined with the talent and tactical nous of Emirates Team New Zealand's Ray Davies and other world class sailors delivered fat gains to the Kiwi entry.

Second by 10 points was John Bacon’s local boat Dark Star, a win and a second bringing them up from yesterday’s third overall on progressive points, and the final placegetter in the seven-race series was Royal Prince Alfred clubmate Hooligan, skippered by Marcus Blackmore.

A full U-turn for Leslie Green’s Ginger started in a wretched place yesterday, when they were forced to send the rigger on board aloft to make temporary repairs on a mast track problem that cost two full race scores, despite being Boat of the Day today, scoring a win and two seconds.

On their stunning comeback Ginger’s tactician David Chapman said: “It was great the boys re-grouped. Will Parker from Sydney Rigging did a terrific job to get us racing again yesterday. We would have liked a top three finish overall but that wasn’t realistic after what happened with the mast track. We are happy with fifth.

Menace is a bit crisper than us. It’s time on the water and they’ve had a full summer racing in Auckland. They menaced us on and off the water,” Chapman added, hinting at the team’s customary après racing bonding sessions, one of the key reasons the Menace crew perform so well when the gun goes, according to Davies.

Ginger is the reigning Australian class champion and last season’s stand out MC38. If only the championship series concept began a year sooner rues Chapman. “We had a great year last year; hopefully we can come back and replicate that. You never know how much time you have at the top of this fleet.”

Prominent offshore yachtsman Gordon Maguire’s first try out of an MC38 came as tactician of Chris Hancock’s Vino (MHYC) which finished fourth. Maguire has oodles of cred, but on this tickled-up one design, there’s a lengthy breaking in period to get the highly-strung beast to co-operate. “Gordon did a really really good job; he also had to start to learn the boat while we were racing,” said Hancock.

On where the Vino program is at present, Hancock sums up: “We are on an improvement cycle. We have several new crew and new sails so we have to re-learn. These boats are stimulating to sail, it’s not hard to get good crew. The more top sailors who race on them and the more positive things they say, the more chance the class has to grow.”

Hancock reckons one of the best additions to the current regatta format is having international umpire Richard Slater in charge of the on-water umpiring. “It’s changed the attitude of the owners towards racing, and each other, in a totally positive way. Instead of spending two hours in the jury room at the end of the day, it’s a whistle then one turn on the water, which is a significant penalty in these boats.”

Principal Race Officer Steve Merrington and his team hosted another superb series for the eight boat fleet over two days in tricky a northeasterly sea breeze of up to 17 knots yesterday and lighter today, up to 10 knots and fluky.

The Australian title on Pittwater over the weekend of 10-12 April will be the class’ next gathering.


Pos Sail No Boat Skipper R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Tot
1 NZL38014 MENACE Howard Spencer 1 2 2 1 3 1 4 14
2 AUS38002 DARK STAR John Bacon 5 4 3 3 2 6 1 24
3 AUS521 HOOLIGAN Marcus Blackmore 6 3 1 2 4 4 7 27
4 HI101 VINO Christopher Hancock 4 6 5 4 5 3 3 30
5 38011 GINGER Leslie Green 9.0F 9.0S 4 5 1 2 2 32
6 403 GHOST RIDER Ross Hennessy 2 1 6 7 7 7 5 35
7 AUS38883 KOKOMO Anthony Bell 7 5 7 6 6 5 6 42
8 AUS9999 ASSASSIN Clare Crawford 3 7 8 8 8 8 8 50

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