Bull remains two points ahead
He and co-owner Bob Thomas have been awarded one of ocean racing’s biggest trophies, overall honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart in 1998 against some of the toughest conditions the fleet has faced in 62 years, but the title of Blue Water Champion has remained elusive. An IRC win in the penultimate race of the championship series with their modified Farr 40 AFR Midnight Rambler has certainly strengthened Psaltis and Thomas’ case for a long awaited series win but he’s well aware that a determined UK crew is out to snaffle the coveted trophy from the locals, and on their first attempt.
"I started trying to win the pointscore in 1989 and I’ve had a serious crack for ten years running," said a delighted Psaltis last night while he and his crew celebrated their IRC win in the Sydney-Newcastle Race.
After scoring a second on IRC in the Sydney-Newcastle Race contested this weekend, Chris Bull’s J/145 Jazz is still two points ahead of AFR Midnight Rambler in the Blue Water Pointscore (BWPS) while in the Tasman Performance Series (TPS), just one point separates the first placed Tony Levett’s Horwath BRI from Rob Reynolds’ Pla Loma.
"Chris Bull is a great sailor and a worthy opponent and if we end up beating him in the pointscore, we will have deserved the win," added Psaltis.
"It’s nail biting stuff…a real battle and I’d rather be two points ahead than two points behind," admitted Bull who is close to realising his ambition of bringing his own boat to Australia to contest the Rolex Sydney Hobart and win the CYCA’s prestigious BWPS.
"The final race being a long race means the fleet should experience a range of conditions rather than being restricted to a particular boat’s favourite conditions. Winning this points score is a question of putting in a lot of effort, which we have done, and sailing consistently over a long period of time," added Bull, a former Royal Ocean Racing Club Rear Commodore.
The final race in the seven race Blue Water Championship is the Audi Sydney Southport Yacht Race starting Saturday 24 March and both the BWPS and TPS (PHS) silverware will be awarded based on results in the decider.
Conditions for the 63 nautical mile race to Newcastle via Cabbage Tree Island which began at 8pm Friday evening from Sydney Harbour were on the nose all the way, except for the final run back from Cabbage Tree to Newcastle, with a shifty northeaster that peaked at 19 knots according to Psaltis.
"We had 10 guys on the rail in the fresh stuff and the boat was powering along," said Psaltis, who made the decision to head offshore, which turned out to be "a big winner".
While the BWPS fleet was inching north in the light airs of early Saturday morning, the Ocean Pointscore Series fleet was preparing for their 9am start gun from Sydney Harbour. They began in light N/NE breezes which slowly built through the day, making for a delightful beat up the coast under sunny skies.
Line honours and second overall in the race to Newcastle delivered CYCA director Dick Cawse and his Cawse/Lyons-designed 60-footer Vanguard a remarkable hat trick of IRC overall wins in the Ocean Pointscore Series.
"It’s been another great series," commented Cawse. "We took a while to get into our stride but for the last three races we really clicked into gear".
Vanguard finished with a season scoreboard of 3-1-4-2-1-1-2 to total 10 points after one discard to end another close season-long tussle with Julian Farren-Price’s Cookson 39, About Time. About Time finished fourth in the Newcastle Race and second overall in the pointscore with a consistent scoreboard of 1-5-1-4-2-2-4 for 14 points. The pair also finished first and second in the IRC division of last year’s Ocean Pointscore Series.
"Julian sails About Time so well…you can’t afford to make a mistake," said a delighted Cawse this afternoon.
Warwick Sherman’s Occasional Coarse Language finished third in the IRC Division of the OPS and clinched first place overall in the PHS division ahead of Stephen Thomas’ Black Adder and Vanguard