May 11 - 17, 2014: Issue 162

 Beneteau Cup 2014 Pittwater Winning Families

Diablo - spinnaker winner.

 Beneteau Cup Pittwater Winning Families
by Lisa Ratcliff/OCC

Pittwater’s capricious nature remained faithful for another autumn Beneteau Cup on Sydney’s northern beaches. One local dictum is ‘never rip up your ticket’ and the stop-start affair tested all crews’ ability to sit tight through the glass-outs and spot the new breeze.

In the light winds the biggest Beneteaus weren’t able to stretch away. Local knowledge didn’t hurt either. Two smaller Pittwater based Beneteaus both crewed by families finished at the top of the spinnaker and non-spinnaker division pile.

Husband and wife team of Jean Cross and Dick Ferris took out the spinnaker division racing two handed with their First 31.7 Diablo, the smallest Beneteau in the colourful 25-boat line-up.

Cross skippered Diablo to its first spinnaker win in the Beneteau Cup since their inaugural entry in 2007, when they took out the non-spinnaker division. Ferris trimmed the sails for the gentle race from Scotland Island around Lion Island and to the shortened finish at Mackerel Beach.

The pair, who regularly race with Avalon Sailing Club, talked tactics together, Cross admitting, “I have the helm so we end up going where I want, but I do listen to Dick’s advice and quite often take it”.

On the fluky breeze Ferris said, “We thought it would come from the NE so we headed right. It didn’t and it was pretty woolly there for quite some time but we managed to keep moving and catch up with a lot of the larger boats. When it’s quiet you need 100 per cent concentration to keep the boat moving.”

Second in the spinnaker division was Gerry Hatton’s First 40.7 Bushranger, a regular Cup customer and top three place getter. Third was Cup virgin, the Howard family’s First 40.7 Schouten Passage from Newcastle, skippered by Richard Howard.


Gerry Hatton’s Bushranger

Mike Robertson studied the forecast pre-race and knew being in the right place at the right time would decide the rankings. “I’m a regular Pittwater sailor and it was a typical day,” said the grinning owner/skipper, looking like the cat that got the cream following his non-spinnaker win with Le Mika, another bantam weight at 38-feet compared to the heavyweight Beneteau 57s.

He credited Le Mika’s first divisional Cup win since 2006 to his “lovely family crew of son, daughter and grandson” plus a dear 84 year-old friend he’s been sailing with for 30 years. “I bought the boat eight years ago to go cruising never expecting to race it successfully. I thought I was giving racing away but I got hooked back in.”

Mike Robertson's Le Mika

Greg Redfern’s Oceanis 37 Kingfisher finished second in the busy non-spinnaker division and the largest of the podium finishers, Mark Cloros’ Sense 43 Annie rounded out the division.

Forecast light northerlies meant a drawn-out beat pushing against tide to West Head on the Ku-ringgai Chase National Park side of Pittwater on Saturday 10th May, 2014. Beneteaus bobbed and some drifted backwards in the tide until a blessed nor’wester filled in late from the Hawkesbury River.

Both the Lion Island and inshore race for the non-spinnaker fleet were shortened by Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s race management team.

Anthony Bell’s Beneteau 57 The Count scored top marks for the party boat, the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song ringing out on a still day and the fridge raided early. During one lull in the breeze a couple of the male crew waltzed for the cameras on the vast aft deck.

The Count

Trophies and prizes were awarded at last night’s sit-down dinner, Vicsail’s Shane Crookshanks facilitating an evening of laughs and good times for Beneteau owners and crew. Results aren’t published due to the arbitrary handicap formula.

The following businesses supported the 14th Beneteau Cup Pittwater; Global, David Boekmann, Sunzapper, Lejen Marine, Sheets Ahoy, Sail Time, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, Sydney City Marine, Club Marine, AC Shoes, Yaffa, Slam,, Quantum Sails and

Nev Wittey's L'Amour de Ma Vie


Report by Lisa Ratcliff, photography by