Sayonara Cup heralds new era of Match racing

'Sydney sailors wrest back control of Sayonara Cup,' writes John Curnow in the Sydey Morning Herald. 

'A thrilling duel on the River Derwent and the triumphant return of the Sayonara Cup to the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron points towards a match-racing revival among young Australian sailors after a decade of dormancy in Hobart at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

Dubbed a mini-America’s Cup, the Sayonara Cup is one of the oldest and most famous yachting trophies in the southern hemisphere. For more than 115 years, the trophy has cast a special spell over match racers, providing a forum for racing in its purest form since 1904 when a race between Australia’s two most powerful racing yachts was felt to mark the occasion of Federation well.

The more recent knife-edged battle between two of Australia’s oldest Royal sailing clubs and their finest teams attracted crowds on the sparkling waterway and drew immediate offers to challenge from Tasmania and Western Australia.

“It seems the Sayonara Cup has opened up an area of sailing that people thought they had moved on from,” said Australian Sailing performance director Iain Murray, who has skippered, directed and designed boats for the America’s Cup.

“We all look to the recent editions of the America's Cup and think of speed and foiling but there is a genuine appreciation of the original skills of match racing used in past America's Cups and the Sayonara Cup. The technical skills of match racing - principally of tacking, gybing and boat placement over technology - are skills that are often sought at the highest level and that have been the foundation of Australian crew saturation on the world sailing stage."

Murray is positive about the future of match racing at a national level.

“The values of club, state and national-originated challenges have an important place and now RSYS has the helm it is important to re-establish the Sayonara Cup as a desired pathway for our future champions.”

The buzz about match racing is in part due to the quality on board each boat. David Chapman, the emerging 30-year-old star tactician on the RSYS challenger Whimsical, is nephew to one of Australia’s greatest ever tacticians Hugh Treharne of the ’83 America’s Cup crew of Australia II.

Armed with local knowledge and a steely determination to win, he joined a stealth trio that included Olympic veteran David Giles and the coolly-collected World Cup helmsman Matt Whitnall. Enjoying the match race structure and the chance to sail with and against the greats, Chapman says: "I really liked the idea of the Sayonara Cup for there is a massive hole in match racing around the world.”

Read the full article in the SMH here