Cabbage Tree Island race report

'Exciting and exhilarating' is how Squadron Member Josh Chant describes his first overnight offshore race as navigator on board 'Solutions'. He writes: 

The Cabbage Tree race was popular this year as it is one of the main qualifier races for the 75th Sydney to Hobart. 67 boats entered, of which 58 lined up on the start line but by the time we reached Sydney Heads the fleet had already been cut dramatically.

The start was  originally scheduled for 1900hrs but thanks to the sunset departure of a cruise liner, we eventually got away at 1920hrs. With dusk now upon us and gusting to 35knots, it was a tricky and challenging ride out of the harbour. We had a quick broach but quickly found our feet and with a small fractional chute up, we stormed our way to North head.

With a few gusts into the higher 30s, we pulled down our kite and ran out under jib and reefed main.
Another quick gybe and we were square running under poled out jib straight down the rhumb line to Cabbage Tree Island. It was a beautiful night sailing with a three quarter moon and small following sea to drive us along.


Unfortunately at about 0430hrs, as we were on our final approach to Fingal Head and Cabbage Tree, the moon set and some cloud cover came over blocking out the stars, leaving us quite in the dark as we waited for sun up. Normally this isn’t much of an issue, but it was this time, thanks to our modern day reliance on technology, as we found ourselves without AIS coming through to the chart plotter. Suffice to say we kept a very careful watch out and as we crossed the mouth of Port Stephens, the pre-dawn sky started to lighten, and we made our way around Cabbage Tree Island.

It was a long slog upwind to get us back to Sydney, and our goal was simple: to get back as quickly as possible in anticipation of the anticipated shift to the south. The breeze was still blowing steadily from the SW at 20-25knots at this time.

We did our single tack for Sydney at approximately 1500hrs for what turned out to be an easy lay into Sydney Harbour. While our strategy to get south quickly wasn't a bad one, we carried on too far and over laid. We certainly could have afforded to have the bow down and travelling a bit faster once we finally tacked onto port too. This saw us getting inshore a bit later than planned and we landed right into the small trough that had moved offshore, parking us in no wind for two hours, just five miles off North Head.

A westerly finally arrived at 2000hrs and we sailed in and crossed the finish line at 2300hrs, managing 21st across the line and 20th IRC.

Considering that only 35 odd boats finished, and the only gear failure we had was a bolt on one of the mainsail cars unthreaded itself, we are really happy with how we and the boat went and feel all the preparation for our campaign for this year’s Sydney to Hobart is going well.

Josh Chant

Success at Laser States

The NSW and ACT State Laser Championships were held at the Georges River Sailing Club from 8-9 November.

Fourteen Squadron (mostly Youth) sailors competed and achieved some fantastic results throughout the fleet. Competing on Botany Bay always presents a different set of challenges to sailing on Sydney Harbour, such as the occasional blast of wind from an accelerating A380 and some interesting tides...

Standing L to R: Marlena, Jack L, Campbell, Ian, Dan, Mark, Jack F, Ashton, Oliver, Mike ( coach ), Xavier, Kane, Finn.
Kneeling L to R: Annabelle, Brooke, Evie, Mina.

Day 1
Saturday's weather was close to perfect, with sun and generally steady wind, although it became lighter and more shifty as the day progressed. 

In the smaller fleet of 11 4.7s, Xavier McLachlan managed a perfect three races with three bullets, followed closely by the ever-threatening Kane Seblatnig.

RSYS made up 20% of a highly competitive fleet of 50 Radials and finished the day strongly with the top three spots and six in the top 10. Jack Littlechild led the fleet with two bullets, with Daniel Costandi and Marlena Berzins close behind.

Day 2
Our results were equally strong. In Radials, Jack continued his domination with great consistency and took out the regatta by two points over Daniel. RSYS attained six of the top 10 results. Marlena was the top finishing girl in Radials in 5th place.

In the 4.7s, Xavier, pictured top, tried a few experiments that didn’t quite work out and he finished the regatta in second place - a fantastic result; he will certainly learn from his day 2 experiences. 

Adult Squadron Member Matt Whitnall sailed in the Standard fleet of 30 boats and finished 12th overall - a great result in a very competitive field. However the crowning regatta honours must go to Campbell Patton, who won the Standard fleet with a fantastic result of five wins, and oh dear, he dropped a second place! 

All in all, our Club's team had a great weekend and supported each other well. Coaching by Mike Leigh and Finn Alexander was terrific and supportive throughout, and all our sailors worked well on their skills. This was a great preparatory event for Sail Sydney and the upcoming Melbourne regattas, including the Nationals, in early January.

As always, Georges River ran a great regatta off the beach - see above - and made our sailors feel welcome. 

Top photo by Jon West Photography
Article and other photos by Richard McLachlan

View full results here

Photos by Jon West Photography here

Tuesday Twilight alert

Due to the extreme weather due to hit Sydney later this afternoon, tonight’s Paspaley Tuesday twilight race has been abandoned. We strongly advise that all skippers and crews take the opportunity to ensure their boats are secure and then join us in a theory session in the CCA from  5.30pm. Dinner will be available in the CCA from 6.30pm and includes a prize draw (drawn out of the hat) for all of the attendees tonight.

Don’t forget this Thursday night we are celebrating just a few of our RSYS Champions from the Sayonara Cup, the Sailing League World Championships and the Etchells World Championship.  Please join us to hear first-hand from these very experienced RSYS Members about their extraordinary experiences.  Bookings are limited and close today at 5pm 

Please click here to book now

Sunday Twilights

Last Sunday’s twilight was again the pick of the week to be out on Sydney Harbour.  Fourteen boats were on the water taking advantage of the 10-12 knot south easterly breeze. 

It was a family affair on board two of the RSYS Elliots.  Brother and sister Lester and Natasha Miller had their regular Optimist sailing children crewing on board Elliott3, pictured above.  Father Stephen Wilson on board with son David and friends were tackling the asymmetrical spinnaker onboard Elliott 4.


Congratulations to Warwick Back on Yertle who won the spinnaker division this week.  The Yngling class sailors are using the Sunday Twilights to switch around crew positions on various boats and build confidence with more time on the water.  Pictured above is Amanda Hicks sailing Shining Star.  RSYS Club boats are available to members.  For more information contact Adam Tran via email at

In the non-spinnaker division, the fast finishing Assassin (Phil Cutts, top) ran down the fleet on the run home and crossed the finish line 20 seconds ahead of Solacious (Amy Gojnich) and Petty Cash (Geoff Barnum, above) a further 17 seconds back.

Thanks to our race officials Joyce Warn and Susan Wade for managing the fleet results.

The CCA is open for dinner following Sunday Twilights, and is a great way to finish off the weekend.   


Article and photos by Captain Karyn Gojnich


Celebrate our Club Champions!

2019 has been an extraordinary year for the Squadron.

Across multiple classes both nationally and overseas, our Members staged a world-beating charge to claim key sailing trophies including the Sailing Champions League in St Moritz, Switzerland, the Etchells World Championship in Corpus Cristi, USA and the Sayonara Cup contested in Hobart. 

These achievements deserve Members' attention and applause, and so we warmly invite you, your families and friends in sailing to celebrate at a dinner on Thursday 14 November. 

During the course of the evening, you will hear from:
Etchells World champions Iain Murray & Richard Allanson
Sayonara Cup victors Matt Whitnall and David Chapman 
Sailing League World Championship winners David Chapman, Charlotte Alexander, Finn Alexander and Zac Quinlan.


David Chapman, Finn Alexander, Charlotte Alexander, Zac Quinlan.  Iain Murray.   Gordon Ingate with David Chapman and Matt Whitnall

Event details
Date: Thursday 14 November
Time: 6.30 for 7pm
Venue: Carabella Room
Cost: $85 for 2 courses & wines