The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron began its 152nd season of summer racing on Sydney Harbour last Saturday, 7 September – a splendid sunny spring day with light easterly winds and a warm 29ºtemperature.
Everyone was back ashore by the time a fresh to strong south-easterly change came through late in the afternoon.
The one disappointing aspect (blame it on Election Day, boats returning from the Race Weeks in Queensland, others still on the slipway, the football) was a relatively small turn-out of yachts. There were only five starters in Division 1 and seven in each of the other divisions. In the International one-design classes, 14 Etchells sailed their usual close competition, five Ynglings raced, but only three Dragons turned out.
However, the outlook for the rest of the season is heartening; the club has received a total of 78 entries for all divisions and one-design classes – and more are expected.
For example, a total fleet of 21 boats has so far entered for Division 1 and 21 for the Etchells class.
Those who did sail last Saturday must have thoroughly enjoyed the conditions. One skipper who should have been pleased with his racing debut at the Squadron is Royal Edward Yacht Club member Richard Smith with his fast Sayer 25 Til the Fat Lady Sins.
Til the Fat Lady Sins spreadeagled the seven-boat fleet, taking line honours by 9 minutes and 27 seconds and winning on handicap by just less than two minutes.
Second place on line and handicap went to Richard Staines’ Hood 23 Esquisse, third to Beowulf (Stafford Watts).
Geoff Davidson’s Jackie Claire sailed its usually consistent race to win Division 1 by a comfortable margin from I Super (Robert Peter Campbell), third place going to Hell Razor (Ian MacDiarmid). Sydney (Charles Curran) led the fleet around the course, but in the light airs could not sail to her rating, placing fifth and last on handicap.
Division 2 stalwart John Waring was in good form with Alouette, finishing second astern of Ellipse II (Brian Bergin) but reversing the order on corrected time. Third place went to Jessica Rabbit (Bruce Millar).
In Division 3, first place went to Come by Chance (John Nutt) from Mingara III (Philip Crane), an impressive third to newcomer to the division, Grant Pollock’s l’Eau Co, which also was second to finish astern of Windsong 2 (John Vickery).
The International Etchells had the biggest fleet on the day, 14 boats enjoying the light breezes to engage in some tactical racing. Dot (David Seaton) got the gun by just five seconds from North Star (Michael Coxon) with Avalon (Michael Bellingham) a more distant third.
Former Olympic sailor Karyn Gojnich began the Yngling class season well, scoring a convincing win with Evie, beating the champion boat Miss Pibb (Hamish Jarrett), third place going to Black Adder (Gary Pearce).
In the Dragons, Liquidity (Richard Franklin) had a runaway win from Tom Thumb III (Norman Longworth) and Abracadabra (Nicholas Hogg).
by Peter Campbell