Big seas and strong winds offshore for the Premier Divisions contesting Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s annual Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship put the stress test on crews over the 24 nautical mile course, described as “brutal” by the division 1 winning tactician.
Michael Fountain from Gerry Hatton’s Mat 1245 Division 1 IRC, ORC and PHS corrected time winner, Bushranger, said: “brutal is the only way to describe it….very tough conditions with constant 27 knot southerlies gusting to 33 and seas 4 metres.”
John McConaghy and Steve Coates helmed the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club boat, Coates hitting a record downwind boat speed of 20.2 knots with a poled-out number 4 headsail. Fountain added: “We got a good start at the right end of the line, and we were up there getting out of the harbour into clear air and weather the boat likes. It’s handy going into day two on top and in fact, we are better suited to windward/leewards.”
Second on IRC was Bob Cox’s DK46 Nine Dragons (MHYC) and third and the line honours victor, Seb Bohm’s JV TP52 Smuggler (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia) made the most of the heavy weather outing a month out from the Rolex Sydney Hobart start.
In Division 2, Paul Jenkins MHYC-based Sydney 38 Mille Sabords captured the treble of top boat under the three handicap systems and Neil Padden’s Beneteau 40.7 Wailea had to be satisfied with second.
Conditions heading south to the waverider buoy off Kurnell proved too much for some – six withdrawals were recorded from a starting SSORC fleet of 16, due to low-level gear and sail damage.
Super 40 Spring Regatta entrants completed the Seven Islands Race, Indy Beck’s MC38 InfoTrack gaining a 32 second edge over Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire on corrected time as those crews enjoyed calm waters laced with rolling showers and wildly shifting cool breeze west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Super 40 results.
The fleet in the annual Seven Islands Trophy Race also headed up the Parramatta River to try their luck, pursuit handicap wins going to Rob Reynolds’ Exile, Tracey Richardson’s and Brendan Smid’s Artemis and Frank Milner’s Pinta Bay in the Jeanneau Cup division. Seven Islands Race results.
SSORC Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson said there was some rejigging of the weekend series program, given the strong wind warning issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, however all fleets completed their full course on Saturday. The tough conditions are associated with a high south of the continent pushing a southerly flow up the New South Wales coast.
Winds are expected to moderate on Sunday November 28, 15-20 knots for the second and final day of the 44th edition of SSORC when the Super 40s take on two short passage races and the Premier fleet switches to short course racing either on the Manly or Macquarie Circles outside Sydney Heads.
The SSORC is held in conjunction with a Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Ocean Pointscore race. MHYC is grateful for the support of CYCA race management and thanks key SSORC sponsors Club Marine, Sail Racing, Robert Oatley Wines and Short Marine for their generosity.
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Tilly McKnight Photos