Sunday 7 February 2010

CYCA: Cawse wins Sydney Newcastle Race double

Dick Cawse’s Lyons/Cawse 60 Vanguard. Image copyright Andrea Francolini.

by Di Pearson

Dick Cawse and his Lyons/Cawse 60, Vanguard, have provisionally wrapped up the 2009/2010 Ocean Pointscore series this afternoon after taking line and handicap honours in the 63 nautical mile Sydney Newcastle race, organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.

Cawse, a CYCA member from Sydney, holds the record for this race, which he set in 2006 in the time of 5h-26m-15s. With a southerly breeze that reached 30 knots, he was hoping to break his own record.

The race started at 9.00am in a 15-20 knot southerly that had competitors and officials thinking it would be a fast spinnaker run all the way to the finish. However, as the miles slipped past, winds dwindled and late this afternoon, those nearing the finish were sailing in a 5 knot nor-easterly under a rainy sky, while those further back on the course raced in a light sou-westerly breeze.

Vanguard led of the Sydney Harbour start line off Point Piper, but Matt Short’s TP52 Shortwave pegged Cawse’s yacht back as she flew out of the Harbour under spinnaker to lead the 19 yacht fleet out of Sydney Heads. It did not take Vanguard, with an eight foot waterline advantage, long to claw her way back into the lead.

Vanguard crossed the finish line at 4.41.35pm today, winning line honours from Pretty Fly III, Colin Woods’ canting keeled Cookson 50, which crossed over one hour later at 5.43.11pm.

Describing Vanguard’s race, Cawse said tonight: “We got 30 knots up the tail and had a good ride all the way to Broken Bay where it went soft. We changed to a headsail when it went to the south/east and dropped to 10 knots, down to 5, then 3-4 for an hour or more.

“After that, it filled in from east/nor-east and when reached all the way to the finish without having to tack once. Surprisingly, we saw little of the rain we’ve been hearing about in Sydney.”

Cawse, who had to wait at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club until 7.30pm to discover whether he had won the race overall, said the course “got wobbly in the middle, but up until then we were having a great race with Pretty Fly III, but she fell away when it got light, which surprised me.”

At the moment, Cawse is the provisional winner of the Ocean Point Score series. The results will not be finalised until Thursday evening pending the outcome of requests for redress in relation to the rescheduling of Race 2 of the series which could affect the top three places.

Cawse and his crew have sailed a near-flawless Ocean Pointscore. A fifth place in the Australia Day Botany Bay race was their worst result in the seven-race one-drop series.

One of Vanguard’s standout performances of the series was a line and overall honours double victory in the second race, the 30 nautical mile Sydney Botany Bay return race. Included in the series were races to Lion Island and Port Hacking and the Australia Day Botany Bay race. Today’s Sydney Newcastle race was the longest of the series.

Having finished the OPS second overall under IRC and PHS last year, Cawse is thrilled with his line and handicap double win and the possibility of his OPS win under IRC. “It’s fantastic,” he said. “The OPS is my style of racing; it’s a fabulous format for someone like me who doesn’t particularly like long ocean races or racing around the cans. You get great variety,” he said.

Throughout the series, Paul Clitheroe and his Balance crew, also from the CYCA, have kept Vanguard honest. Clitheroe’s drop was the Australia Day Botany Bay race, in which he was unable to compete. He looks likely to finish the OPS in second place.

At 7.30pm this evening, Amante, Into the Mystic and Mortgage Choice Rhumba were the only retirements from the race, their owners stating time was not on their side. Only a handful of boats had finished the race, after light airs beset the remainder of the fleet.

The Sydney Newcastle Race finished on Newcastle Harbour between Stockton and Queens Wharves a short distance from co-hosts, the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club.

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia

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