Sunday, 8 May 2011

Audi Winter Series: Fleet gets an early mark on Mothers' Day

Division B yachts Euphoria and Paca neck for neck down the run. Image copyright David Brogan.

by Di Pearson

A beautiful autumn day signalled the opening race of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Audi Winter Series, and what it lacked in breeze was more than made up for in warm sunshine for a perfect Mothers’ Day on the water.

With many women now heavily involved in sailing, it was no surprise to count 116 boats across 12 divisions spread along Sydney Harbour in a light west-nor-westerly breeze, spinnakers wafting gently and crews spread around the decks of yachts, trying to sail the various yachts as flat as possible and keep the momentum going.

The huge fleet started off Point Piper as per their handicap start time and after a slow sun-baking spinnaker run down the Harbour, Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson opted to shorten the course when it became obvious that a long day was on the cards had he not, and with the time limit for all competitors 4,30pm, the decision was the right one.

Greg Mason, skipper of the Davidson 37 Cruiser, Sinewave, the Division F winner, described today’s race and conditions: “It was a lovely winter’s day sail with a nice westerly coming thought. We got off the start bang on the money – and with a new crew – so that was rewarding,” he said.

“From there, we made a good decision to go with our symmetrical kite, rather than an asymmetrical and carried it all the way to the mark, making the best of the outgoing tide. We stayed out of the current and picked off Sports Bar (Neville and Joe Blair) which is well handicapped and we were on our way.”

Mason said the breeze went around to the north-west and eased off. “We picked the shifts and pressure well; there were 15 to 20 degree variations in direction and the breeze was 12 knots at its best, but generally below 10,” he said.

“It’s always good to get a win in early; usually it takes us a few races to warm up to the theme,” he owned.

Quest is still the best. Image copyright David Brogan.

Bob Steel’s TP52 Quest took the honours in division A1 after enjoying a summer hiatus. CYCA Commodore Garry Linacre and former Commodore David Fuller came off second best with their Corby 49 Vamp, while Geoff and Pip Lavis’ UBS Wild Thing took third place.

In Division A2, the spoils went to NSC Mahligai, the light air Sydney 46 flyer of Murray Owen and Jenny Kings, who outsailed Peter Horn’s proven yacht, Canute and Kirribilli, the ILC Farr 40 skippered by reigning 18ft skiff champion, Sam Newton.

A good day out for CYCA board members, as Howard Piggott, next in line to be commodore, finished the day second overall with his reliable Beneteau First 40, Flying Cloud, pipped to the post in Division B by a well-sailed Papillon, the Archambault A40 owned and skippered by Phil Molony.

Other winners today were Cyrene 3 (Michael Selby) taking Division C; 2008 Audi IRC Australian Champion Peter Sorensen (Philosopher’s Club) Division D; Devil’s Lair (Barry Crook) Division E; Sinewave (Greg Mason and Barb Maunsell) Division F; Velocity (Brian Carrick) Division G; The Holy Gale (Jason Klaas) Division H; Sextant (Denis Doyle) Division J and MRX (John Short and Miles Bastick) Division K and Wild One (Larki Missiris) won the Sydney 38 Division.

Barry Crook was not aboard Devil’s Lair for today’s race, as he is recovering from a hip replacement, so left crew member Nigel Williams in charge with distinguished navigator Carl Crafoord at the back helping out.

“They mightn’t let me back on board after winning today – I might have to undergo a fitness test,” an excited Crook said. “I saw the race and knew the guys were looking good. The boat is improving all the time. She was derelict when I bought her, but with some modifications and new Quantum Sails; it’s all coming together.

“We’re looking forward to being prepared for the CYC’s summer season; I think we’ll do the Ocean Pointscore Series,” said Crook who expects to be back aboard the Devils Lair, a Mount Gay 30, in a couple of weeks’ time.

Light and tricky on the Harbour today. Image copyright David Brogan.

The happiest man today was Brian Carrick, the winner of Division F with his Beneteau First 31.7 Velocity, who was the lucky recipient of the keys to an Audi A5 Sportback 3.0 TDI quattro for the week.

“Because it’s Mothers’ Day, I could only scrape together me and two others. We got daring and set a masthead kite and carried it all the way to Lady Bay with our boat angle at 80 degrees. If it had got to 12 knots, we’d have been in a bit of trouble,” Carrick confessed late this afternoon.

Carrick said he felt a bit lucky in winning the Audi: “Would you believe I won the use of an Audi in the first race last year! It was very nice to drive and I’m really looking forward to driving the Sportback. I’m going to take the boat back to its mooring, drive my car to the CYCA and drive the Audi home,” he said.

With nine races to sail, the Audi Winter Series has a long way to go and those whose boats enjoy the fruits of heavier winds need not fret; their day or days will come.

Audi Winter Series