March  3 - 9, 2024: Issue 616


Sydney Harbour Regatta 2024

The gusty winds on Day 1 caught some out. Photo: Andrea Francolini

Nautilus Marine Insurance Sydney Harbour Regatta: Overcast day fails to dampen great racing  

Saturday March 2, 2024

Despite moody skies and rain showers, the opening day of Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s (MHYC) Nautilus Marine Insurance Sydney Harbour Regatta 2024 was nothing short of exciting as gusting winds to 30 knots hit Sydney Harbour forcing the best out of all yachties and their boats.

It was inevitable, though, that there would be round-ups, Chinese gybes, the odd prang and boats crossing their respective start lines a little ahead of time.

Race 1 starts and reigning champion Jules Hall (Disko Trooper_Contender Sail Cloth) cleared out in the J/99 class, leaving the rest to grapple for the minor placings. Shine On-Team Callendina (Phil Herscovics) got off best of the Sydney 38 start at the pin, Toybox 2 (Ian Box) outclassed her rivals at the Division 1 start of the Open division, while Peter Farrugia’s Bullwinkle won the start in Division 2.    

And while a good start is imperative, it did not always decide the final outcome.  

Fareast 28R One-Design Australian Championship

Scott Lawson fired up his Firecracker crew to win the opening race before firing off two second places on the windward/leeward courses to lead the Championship from Conrad Johnston’s Wildling. The latter opened with a fifth place then won the other two races. Two points separate the top two, so it will be on for young and old tomorrow. 

“It was a tremendously tricky day,” Lawson conceded. “The first race was in 20 plus knots, so fast runs were where we made our gains. The next two races were fluky, it was a lottery, you had to pick the right sides of the course the whole time.   

“We were close to Wildling in the second two races. They got to the right side of the course and we didn’t, so we ended up second to them in both. I’ve got great guys like Andrew Divola (‘Dolly’ Divola was a dab 18 foot skiff sailor in the past) with me, which is why we did so well,” Lawson said. “We’re having a great time.”

Lawson ended, “Light winds are forecast tomorrow and that will impact us, as we don’t take the boat out of the water to clean it. We’ll try to power up and see how we go.”

Smiles on the faces of Scott Lawson's Firecracker crew. Photo: Andrea Francolini

J/99 One-Design Australian Championship

Defending champion, Disko Trooper_Contender Sail Cloth, ended the day in front, but Ian Smith (Jupiter) did not make the day easy for Hall by any means in their three windward/leeward races. The pair are one point apart leading into tomorrow’s final races. 

Sydney 38 One-Design NSW Championship

Serial winner, Conspiracy, won the last two titles in a row, but all competitors came to this Championship determined to overcome David Hudson and Peter Byford’s boat. Seems Greg Croak and crew on Challenge from Lake Macquarie were just that bit more determined. They scored two bullets and a second to lead Conspiracy by a solitary point after three windward/leeward races. Watch this space… 

Open Class

A trio of DK46’s went at it hammer and tong in Division 1. Khaleesi (Rob Aldis/Sandy Farquharson) came out on top and is two points ahead of Nine Dragons (Bob Cox) and a further point ahead of LCE Old School Racing (Mark Griffith).

“The competition is always tight between the DK46s. The three were never more than four boat lengths apart,” Farquharson commented. “These are good windward/leeward boats, so the result is not surprising. The skill of the crews determines the outcome,” Farquharson said. 

Of the conditions, he said, “It was gusty and between 10 and 20 knots, perfect for the DKs, that’s where they live.” 

The DK46s took control of Open Division 1. Photo: Andrea Francolini

Division 2 went the way of Garry Holt’s Let’s Get It On from Queensland. Holt’s always well sailed Corby 36 won all three races after its recent Division 2 victory at RPAYC’s ORC Championship on Pittwater.

In other results, the Classic Keelboats, a new addition to the regatta as a class, sailed two Harbour passage races and both were won by Annie Lawrence and John Whitfeld’s Solveig. 

Solveig was built by Lars Halvorsen Sons in 1950 for Lars’ famous sons, Trygve and Magnus. They took line honours in the 1953 Sydney Hobart for second overall and won the race in 1954. She is among other famous Classics here such as Wraith of Odin and Mister Christian.

Solveig won both Classic Keelboats races. Photo: Andrea Francolini

The Etchells’ have also joined in the regatta and contested three windward/leeward races on the Harbour. Dawn Raid, skippered by Matty Whitnall won all three. He beat the best in the business – Peter ‘Billy’ Merrington  (First Tracks), which is sitting second. Merrington has won a multitude of titles in the class.

Super 30 and Super 40 classes are the ‘sexy’ boats of the fleet. Fast and sleek with a bit of ‘X’ factor, they were worth watching in today’s brisk breeze. 

David Suttie’s Melges 32, Lockdown (bought and named during COVID lockdown) was a force to be reckoned with, winning two races and scoring second in the third, to hold a four point advantage over Peter Woodhead’s same design named XC3SS.

“The last race was very close. We lost it (to XC3SS) by nine seconds. We had a couple of wipeouts, but we got it back. The sailing was very good, with gusting winds to 30 knots,” Suttie shared.

“It was up and down towards the end. Tomorrow is looking much lighter. I think the planning hull boats will be a bit slower and if that’s the case, the other boats will come into their own. But I think we should go OK,” said Suttie, adding, “I have a very good crew who have been sailing forever and are passionate.” 

Principal Race Officer, Denis Thomson, declared midway through the afternoon, “I’m pretty happy with how it’s all happening.” 

Thompson has a huge orchestra to conduct, with nine clubs looking after seven course areas in Sydney Harbour and offshore. 

A diverse field from the Historical 18 Footers and the Classic Keelboats division to the one-design and open fleets to everything in between makes NSW’s largest keelboat regatta the great event it is.  

Racing continues tomorrow from 11am.

Full results and all information: 

Report by Di Pearson

Nautilus Marine Insurance Sydney Harbour Regatta: It’s a wrap! 

Sunday March 3, 2024

Today’s weather was a turnaround from yesterday’s wet blowy day at the 2024 Nautilus Marine Insurance Sydney Harbour Regatta, a glorious north-north/easterly wind on a sunny hot day made a difference to many results of yesterday – but not all. 

Competitors have had a fabulous weekend in the Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s (MHYC) annual regatta and at the time of writing were back at the Club recalling the last two days with mates over a couple of drinks. Many chose the beach in front of the Club to relax, as it is a beautiful late afternoon.

Firecracker first Fareast 28R One-Design Australian Champion

Scott Lawson fired up his Firecracker crew to win the opening and final races, adding a couple of second places in between on the six windward/leeward courses to win the Championship. Peter Higgin’s Sparrow, which scored a pair of wins and a second today, gazumped Conrad Johnston’s Wildling 3 for second place. Johnston settled for third.

Lawson said, “We had a lovely final race. We had a horror start, tacked to port ducking all others, tacked onto a massive right hand shift and took about a minute and a half out of the fleet within 5 to 10 minutes.

“I think God waved his magic wand over us in that race.”

“It’s fabulous to win the first Nationals in the class and be the Australian Champion. I want to thank Middle Harbour Yacht Club, its race management committee and the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron crew who looked after our course, they did a great job.”

J/99 One-Design Australian Championship goes to Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth

Defending champion, Disko Trooper_Contender Sail Cloth (Jules Hall), ended the day in front, but Ian Smith (Jupiter) did not make it easy for Hall by any means in their six windward/leeward races. Counting three wins in his score, Smith’s crew finished four points behind Hall’s. 

“It’s been a fabulous regatta,” Hall said. “The class has come on in leaps and bounds since last year. It was very close racing. We were delighted to win, but huge congratulations to everyone in the class. 

“Yesterday we had a 29 knot gust and today we found a hole in the course. It’s been aa true test of abilities. I have to say the camaraderie and atmosphere in our fleet is fantastic – and that’s the best part of the class.”   

Challenge the new Sydney 38 One-Design NSW Champion 

Greg Croak and his Challenge crew from Lake Macquarie have gone where no others have before – they cracked the Conspiracy’s winning streak to take out their first Sydney 38 One-Design NSW Championship.  

Croak and crew were at the top of their game throughout, their scorecard reading 1-2-1-1-3 to Conspiracy’s 2-1-2-6-5 after sailing six after the six windward/leeward races. Defending champions David Hudson and Peter Byford stumbled today, a rarity for them – and it proved costly as there are no drops. 

Croak was over the moon: “We came close before but couldn’t quite put it together. Words can’t describe how we feel. We’re very excited and happy for the whole crew, family and friends from the Lake, which makes it doubly special. They put in so much,” he said. 

“Conspiracy’s crew is very happy for or us, they came and congratulated us.” 

Serial winner, Conspiracy, won the last two titles in a row, but improving competitors came to this Championship determined to overcome her.  

Challenge cracked the Conspiracy code. Photo: Andrea Francolini.

Adams 10 win to Artemis

There was no beating Tracy Richardson’s Artemis. The Sydney yachtswomen and her crew were ‘on fire’ as sailors say, winning four out of six windward/leeward races. Artemis’ nearest rival, Geoffrey Charters’ No Friends, finished five points adrift and counted a win its tally.

“We had a great day. We’re exhausted though. Yesterday was even better than today, we won all three races. That’s the beauty of one-design racing - you win some you lose some. 

“We picked good lanes yesterday and executed manoeuvres well in wild conditions. We had difficulty finding the top marks. It pays to read the Sailing Instructions. Today was closer. A lot of fun. Our crew was incredible,” Richardson said.

Adams 10s - Artemis with red kite. Photo: Andrea Francolini.

Open Class

A trio of DK46’s went at it hammer and tong in Division 1. Yesterday Khaleesi (Rob Aldis/Sandy Farquharson) came out on top and was two points ahead of Nine Dragons (Bob Cox) and a further point ahead of LCE Old School Racing (Mark Griffith). Today, the order changed, with Cox taking the trophy from Griffith, Aldis and Farquharson were third. 

Division 2 went to Garry Holt’s Let’s Get It On from Queensland. Holt’s always well sailed Corby 36 won five out of six races. This comes on the back of his recent Division 2 victory at RPAYC’s ORC Championship on Pittwater.

Garry Holt added another win to Let's Get It On's trophy list. Photo: Andrea Francolini.

Performance Spinnaker

The Performance Class divisions undertook four Harbour passage races over the two days. John Amos’ Chainsaw was out on top in Division 1.

“The organisation is excellent at this regatta and we’ve had two fantastic days of racing,” Amos declared. 

In Division 2, David O’Loughlin drove Siena to a win over Gary Carless’ Renaissance.

“I’m a huge fan of Middle Harbour Yacht Club and the other clubs that give their time for this massive undertaking. I’ve been involved in race management so completely understand how hard it is,” O’Loughlin said.

“We had an awesome day yesterday and today was great too. We had tactical and competitive racing today. The Harbour was very tricky. Teamwork skills were needed. My kids Sophie (22) and Jack (19) sailed with me. It’s great to sail with your kids.” 

Division 3 went to Martyn Colebrook with Slac-N-Off from Dean Dransfield’s Escape.

So many divisions to cover, so in short, Ross Hennessy conquered the Super 40 class with his Ker 40 Mk3, Condor, with David Ross’ Kukukerchu second. Michael Nash and Maybe-J won the J/70 competition from Kary Gojnich’s Jabiru and John Crawford’s Innamincka won the J/24s.  

Gordon Ketelbey from the host club won the Super 50 division with Zen. Accolades to Ketelbey from the host club, he is a great supporter of races and regattas on the eastern seaboard.  

Organisers at Middle Harbour Yacht Club are thankful to the clubs that continue to support the running of the Regatta: Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, Manly Yacht Club, Royal Australian Navy Sailing Association, Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club, Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, the Sydney Flying Squadron.

“The Club is eternally grateful for the numerous skilled and committed volunteers who help each year. We couldn’t do it without them,” MHYC Commodore, Rob Aldis commented. 

“Finally, we thank the over 1000 sailors who’ve come from all over NSW and interstate to take part and hope everyone enjoyed themselves,” the Commodore ended.  

Full results and all information: 

By Di Pearson