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Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship – a weekend of thrilling racing  

Hooligan won all three windward-leeward
races today (Crosbie Lorimer Photo)

After two days of competitive racing, Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s (MHYC) annual Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship (SSORC) wound up this afternoon in pleasant conditions on a beautiful spring day and winners were announced at the Club early this evening.

There was no beating Bob Cox’s Nine Dragons in Division 1 of the Championship. The DK46 is always well-sailed and Cox drove it to three wins from four races. Yesterday he scored third in the Passage Race, but there was no stopping Nine Dragons and the crew on the offshore windward leeward courses today.

“It was really good to get a group of boats together of a similar size – it made it great competition for all of us,” Cox enthused, eluding to sistership Khaleesi (Andrew and Pauline Dally), St Jude and others.  

Racing was so tight that Darryl Hodgkinson’s Carkeek 40 finished second overall on countback on equal points with two others - Khaleesi third overall and Noel Cornish’s Sydney 47, St Jude, (which won the Cabbage Tree Island Race earlier this month), fourth.

“Saturday’s Passage Race was fluky. Victoire annihilated us. The course had a lot of reaching and it demonstrated what a good boat it is. We were third, St Jude was faster. We had to get back to the Club and evaluate,” admitted Cox, a member of MHYC.

Today’s offshore windward/leeward courses, though, were tailor made for Nine Dragons. The sea had a bit of punch to it, with a little rolling swell, but nothing too severe.

“We did much better,” Cox said. “It was great racing with Khaleesi, Victoire and St Jude. Victoire was banging the corners - they were a bit faster than us,” Cox said.

“Ian Box (Toy Box 2) got a third in the first race today - he’s had a good regatta against tough competition,” acknowledged Cox of his fellow MHYC club member and a past commodore.

“The first race of the day was a bit of a disaster,” said Cox after Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson was forced to abandon when the breeze shifted 40 degrees. The two divisions and the new TP52 class settled in and Thompson got them away pretty smartly. They were dealt shifty and tricky winds of up to 14 knots; a day for the tacticians.

“I had Julian Plante calling tactics; Yarrandi (Dave Griffith’s Marten 49) had Cocko (Michael Coxon). He was whipping them along. “

Prior to the event, Andrew Dally said he would love to beat their sistership. It was not to be.

Cox responds: “There’s not a great deal of difference between us – not a big gap. One slight hiccup and they’ve got you. You can’t take your foot of the accelerator.”

In Division 2, there was a collision at the start of Race 4, involving Grace O’Malley, JustADash and Supernova. As a result, Grace O’Malley was unable to start the race. Phil Dash’ JustADash was declared the division winner, with Jack Stening/Colin Gunn’s Sydney 36, Stormaway, second - the two are regulars at the top of the many scoreboards. Matthew Hanning’s Supernova was third.

Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan was the gun boat in the TP52s, taking the series from Quest (which Bob Steel repurchased recently) and Sam Haynes’ Celestial. Blackmore said the idea had been to put in place a system to make it an even playing field between the newer boats with professional sailors, and the older boats that are mostly crewed by Corinthians.

However, the RORC in the UK said it wasn’t possible, so the owners in the class will have to come up with another way. And like Nine Dragons, Hooligan was third in the Passage Race, but came out all guns blazing on the windward/leeward courses, winning all three on IRC. 

“Middle Harbour is very keen to support us in what we’re doing and it’ll be great when we get more TPs involved,” Blackmore said.

“It was great racing today – and our first event of the new series.  It sharpens your skills when you do a bit of fleet racing over two days. And as we know, it’s all about time in the boat. In a one-design class like this we all share the knowledge – it’s a learning experience.”

The Super 12 Series was also made up of four races and it was an MC38 stranglehold.  Lazy Dog, owned by Shaun Lane and Quentin Stewart, was the outstanding boat this weekend. She cleaned up, winning all four races. Steven Proud, fairly new to the class, finished second overall with Swish, with Stephen Barlow’s Lightspeed third.

A thrilled Lane said, “It was quite interesting – we bought the boat a year ago, and exactly to this day we sailed our first regatta – it was a complete disaster. We didn’t know what we were doing, dropping a kite over the side, running over it, and all sorts. But we built a good team of guys and have been training hard together and it’s all working for us.

“We didn’t do anything exceptional this weekend, we just worked hard and didn’t do anything wrong. One mistake and you were gone. Steve Thomas was calling tactics for us. We have a young keen team of dinghy sailors and they called the breeze well.”

Following the double points Passage Race yesterday, the Super 12s first race today was a two lapper; the remaining two were three laps each. The amusingly named ‘Lazy Dog’ was able to separate herself from the rest in the final race and extended around the course.

Sixty two boats took part in the first major keelboat regatta for spring, and included the inaugural TP52 class regatta, adding to the spectacle. After racing both days, competitors trouped back to MHYC to enjoy the Club’s characteristic party with music on the beach – a wonderful way to spend the weekend.

Thanks go to PRO, Denis Thompson, and MHYC and Cruising Yacht Club of Australia officials and volunteers.

Middle Harbour Yacht Club also expresses it thanks to sponsors: Helly Hansen, Club Marine, Oatley Wines, Keysun and Vittoria.

Full results and all information: www.ssorc.mhyc.com.au

Di Pearson, MHYC media