RSYS to host the Fd World Championship in 2015

The FD class throughout the world has become stronger since leaving the Olympics after 1992. In 2011 at Malcesne, Italy the FD class had their largest fleet ever of 135 boats. In 2013 in Hungary a strong fleet of 90 boats from 18 countries competed in a highly contested and close championship. Strong international fleets in Europe tend to dominate the World Championships, with the Hungarian combination of Szabolcs Majthenyi and Andras Domokas having won 7 of the last 10 world championships, but with strong competition from Germany, Holland and Italy that dominance looks to change.

The returning of the worlds to Sydney has also caused a resurgence of new builds. Cox/Bevis have a new carbon Mader imported from Germany, imported with an identical sister ship to be sailed by former 505 sailor Michael Nolan and Matthew Moore. Four locally built new FD’s are also under construction. These recent upgrades have made second boats available to new sailors joining the fleet, including 505 sailors Michael Babbage and James McAllister who won the 2013 505 national championships. From Victoria will be former FD national champions Peter Bartels and Stewart Edgar. The local competition will be intense, and will be tested at the NSW state championships as part of the Sydney International regatta on 2-5 December followed by the Australian Championships between 28 and 30 December 2014.

The influx of new carbon boats has been assisted by a strong Australian dollar and competition between German and Italian builders, improving quality and maintaining costs. A new FD costs about the same as a new 505, and less than many skiffs. An additional advantage for local fleet numbers has been the competitiveness of older boats. At the 2013 national championships, Cox and Bevis in a borrowed 1988 Mader won 4 heats, showing the speed and competitiveness of older boats against the brand new products. As a consequence there is a strong second hand boat market in Europe and good quality competitive boats can be purchased for around A$5-10,000.

One significant change in the FD fleet in recent years was the move to carbon masts in 2007, significantly reducing the weight and flexibility of the rigs. This has increased performance, but more importantly permitted a wider range of crew weights to be competitive. Top crews can be as light as 85-90kg in recent years, with appropriate mast and sail combinations, unlike the bad old days of the Olympics when all top crews were over 100kg and 6” 4’. This has really levelled the playing field to a wide range of everyday weekend sailors, and the end result has been larger international fleets.

The class has already attracted some interest from sponsors as well, with the newest Australian watch brand Bausele ( coming on board to support the class and the Worlds, and a few others keen to market themselves amongst a truly world class group of sailors at one of Australia’s premier yacht clubs.

Ed Cox

152nd RSYS racing starts tomorrow

A strong fleet of over 80 yachts, ranging from one-design Ynglings to Division 1 60-footers, has entered the 152nd season of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron with racing starting on the Harbour tomorrow, Saturday, 6 September.

Biggest fleet this summer will be the International Etchells class with 31 entries so far for this highly competitive one-design class while the three mixed divisions between them more than 40 entries.

Vice Commodore Richard Chapman and Cruise Captain Richard Lawson have joined the Etchells fleet,  chartering Foolhardy from Sir James and David Hardy.  Another addition to the Etchells fleet is AUS1292,  skippered by CYCA member Matthew Ramaley.

Prominent Etchells sailors entered for the season include Michael Coxon (North Star), Peter Alexander (Tonic),  David Seaton (Dot),  Doug McGain (Ciao), Matt Whitnall (Umami)  and Richard Hammond and Roger McGain (Alchemist).

With Division 4 entries dwindling in recent season, the division has been combined with Division 3, with the courses adjusted to accommodate the smaller Division 4 boats.

Division 3 has 15 entries with a fleet that now ranges from the Hood 23 Esquisse 2 through to former Sydney Hobart Race winner Zeus II.

Division 2 has attracted 14 entries so far, including three newcomers:  Greenwich Sailing Squadron member Terry Daly’s Mungral 25, the well-named Beware of the Dog; CYCA member Andrew Butler’s Dufour 36e Astral; and Valhalla, skippered by RSYS member Richard Corbett, until now a non-spinnaker division Winter competitor.

Heading Division 1 once again is Charles Curran’s 60-footer Sydney with the division looking highly competitive with such yachts as Peter Lowndes Lyons 47 Wine-Dark Sea,  Ian MacDiarmid’s Hell Razor,  Geoff Davidson’s Jackie Clare,  Bill Meiklejohn’s Jutson 50 and John and Michael Stephen’s Ker 1103 in the fleet.

While tomorrow is the opening of the racing season on Sydney Harbour, the 152nd Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron Opening Day will be on Sunday week, September 14.

The Squadron’s Commodore in Chief, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd),  Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia will fire a field gun to signal the official opening of the season.  Along with Her Excellency Lady Lynne Cosgrove, Sir Peter will review the fleet during the sail past of Squadron vessels.

Peter Campbell


RSYS take early lead at the Etchells Invitational Cup in Cowes

Cowes, UK, July 18, 2014 – The opening day of the inaugural Etchells Invitational Cup delivered plenty of sun, but variable winds that tested the 20 teams from 11 countries that are gathered in Cowes. While it was a day that saw plenty of place-changing throughout the fleet, three clear low-scoring leaders have emerged. Jeanne-Claude Strong of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, is leading the fleet on four points, with Chris Bull of the Yacht Club de Cannes and Ian Dobson of the Royal Thames YC tied on six points. Despite a disappointing 12th place in the second race, Marvin Beckmann from Houston YC is holding fourth overall, on 13 points.

Race Details - A slowly dissipating band of thundery clouds to the east of the course defined the start of the first race, which didn’t get away until the fourth attempt. When the fleet finally got away, under a U flag penalty rule, an individual recall signal indicated at least one boat over the line prematurely that would be disqualified.

New Cowes-based owner Julian Metherell started at the committee boat in clear air and stayed on starboard tack, benefitting from a big right-hand windshift, However, the first three boats approaching the top mark were those that started near the pin. Jeremy Thorpe, representing Antigua YC and crewed by former world champion Stuart Childerley and Mark Andrews, rounded first. Shannon Bush from New York YC followed, with RYA Team Glamour (Annabel Vose, Amy Prime, Hannah Peters and Emily Nagel) in third.

The Antiguan team gybed around one-third of the way down the first run, consolidating their lead and looking very strong, although an early gybe by Beckmann, who rounded the top mark fourth, also saw him looking well placed. At the end of the second beat, Beckmann remained in second place, although Bush now held the lead, with Thorpe having slipped to third.

On the run Bush gybed early, a move that translated into a commanding lead at the finish. However, she had been one of the premature starters, along with Thorpe, so it was Beckmann that took the winning gun, with Ian Dobson’s team of Murray Chapples and Thomas Brennan second and Jeanne-Claude Strong third.

The second race initially got away smoothly, but with the wind dropping to almost nothing and the back markers failing to reach the windward mark against the building tide, it had to be abandoned. When the race was restarted it was in a light southerly breeze, with almost two knots of ebb tide setting across the course. The fleet got away cleanly, with boats soon spread evenly across the course, but it was Chris Bull, crewed by Nigel King and Tim Davies, that took an early lead in the middle of the track.

However, Strong rounded the top mark first, followed by Bull and Dobson, with Beckmann's team from Houston buried in 13th place. “We had a poor start and on the first beat we couldn’t go the way we wanted,” crew member Andrew Palfrey, another former Etchells world champion, explained. “We picked up some places by the finish but it was difficult to recover in those conditions.”

While most of the fleet favoured the right-hand side of the first run, Strong gybed early which helped to extend her lead, which she held to the finish. Chris Bull took second and Bush third. “The strength of the tide makes it a bit difficult for us here," said Strong’s middle crew member Neville Whittey, who raced a Soling in the 2000 Olympics. “We’re not used to that much stream – it feels like a nightmare, but it’s a great challenge.”

With the wind again dying over the racecourse, the fleet assembled ashore at Shepard’s Wharf, for the official opening of the new six-tonne crane at the marina’s dry sailing facility, plus a special prize for the youngest team at the event – James French, Tristan Seal and Rob Bunce of the UKSA/RYA British Keelboat Academy, whose average age is under 20.

Rupert Holmes

Ginger overcomes Kiwis to win MC38 Harbour Regatta

Leslie Green and his Ginger crew from Sydney have taken out the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron hosted MC38 Harbour Regatta by the narrowest margin from the lone New Zealand entry, Howard Spencer’s Menace, on Sydney Harbour this afternoon.

One point behind the Kiwis after four races were completed yesterday, ex dentist Green scraped home by the skin of his teeth, finishing on equal points with Howard Spencer’s Kiwi entry, Menace following the final three races today.

The Kiwis lodged protests against Ginger in Race’s 5 and 7 involving overlapping incidents. Ginger lost the first to be disqualified from Race 5, but survived the second, from which Menace was disqualified.

Winemaker Chris Hancock’s Vino, representing Hamilton Island Yacht Club, finished third overall, two points behind the top two after benefitting from the protests. It was not all plain sailing though; as the well-named Vino was caught short a couple of times by wineglasses in spinnakers, prompting wry comments from rivals about wine on board.  

All competitors had their chances, but it was hard going in the gusty and shifty 18-25 knot south/south-westerlies which caused minor damage. It was a day for staying one hundred percent alert as every little mistake proved costly.

“I enjoyed the strong winds, especially sailing these exciting boats,” said a smiling Green, Ginger’s Octogenarian owner. “The racing is so close and exciting; that’s what I love about this class,” Green said. “I feel we are well-prepared for the Australian Championship and we’re looking forward to it,” he added of the next MC38 event, to be held in conjunction with Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in mid-August.

Ginger crossed the finish line first in Race 5, which opened racing today. Her subsequent disqualification meant Vino moved into the winner’s circle, with Ghost Rider second and Menace third. Ghost Rider was locked out of the start and lost a lot of ground, but superior windward boat speed allowed her to round the top mark first.   

Spencer and his crew struggled somewhat in that race, being boxed in by both Ginger and Vino on various stages of the track. They could not catch a break.

In the gusty Race 6, however, the Kiwis did not put a foot wrong; spinnaker sets and drops were flawless and tacks clean. Their diligence translated to a one minute 26 second win over Ginger, with Assassin, owned by the newest fleet owner, Robin Crawford in third.

The Menace crew, including pros Ray Davies and James Dagg, will be dangerous at the World’s to be held on their own waters in October, and hosted by the Royal Akarana Yacht Club, where Menace calls home.      

Ginger won Race 7, while Assassin moved up to second place and Vino third, after Menace was disqualified and Ghost Rider suffered spinnaker problems, losing her a lot of ground.

Assassin had problems throughout the series, but her third and second places gave Crawford, who has been out of competitive sailing nearly 16 years, some comfort. “I’m learning to sail the boat,” he said.

Three windward/leeward races decided the winner today after four races, including a tough Harbour Passage course were completed yesterday.

All took their chances but mistakes and damage robbed some. Fourth placed Ross Hennessy (Ghost Rider) looked close to stealing the limelight a few times, but mistakes and damage cost him. “You win some, you lose some. It was practice for the Australian Championship, so better we learn from our mistakes here,” a philosophical Hennessy said.

Full results:

Di Pearson

MC38 Winter Regatta

After 2 days of cold winter racing its come down to the wire with a count back to the very last race. After the dust settled from the two protests involving the 2 leading boats, Leslie Green's 'Ginger' won over Howard Spencer's 'Menace'. Taking out the 3rd spot was Chris Hanock's 'Vino'.