Photography by Matt King
13 November 2018
The deadline for standard entries to close in Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s (MHYC) annual Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship (SSORC) has been extended to Friday 16 November, with late entries extended to midnight on Wednesday 21 November, allowing extra time for those who have been busy ample opportunity to sign on.
The first major keelboat regatta for the summer season, the SSORC is to be held over the weekend of 24-25 November, in conjunction with the Super 12 Spring Regatta and Seven Islands Race inshore. The expanded program will also take in the inaugural TP52 class regatta, adding to the spectacle.
Numbers are growing for the TP52 event. The boat to beat on scratch is Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan, which has been sailing up a storm since she hit the water for MHYC’s Sydney Harbour Regatta earlier in the year. However, a handicap system Event Handicap (EHC) has been put into place taking into account an age allowance and number of professional sailors aboard.
Blackmore explains: “The TP52 owners got together at the Squadron to decide on a good handicap to reflect an age allowance and the number of professional crew aboard. It means we’ll have a scratch trophy and prize, and an equal trophy and prize for the overall winner.”
“It means we’re levelling the field in a class driven by owners,” and he stresses, “the boats must be owner driven. We’ll try the new handicap system and see how it goes. I hope we’ll see eight TP52s on the Harbour – it will look fantastic. I’m pretty excited about it. The starts should be fantastic. It doesn’t make any difference to how old your boat is – we’re all generally going at the same speed.”
Celestial (Sam Haynes), Frantic (Mick Martin), newcomer Gweilo (Matt Donald/Chris Townsend) and 2008 and 2012 Sydney Hobart winner Quest (Bob Steel) are among the entries, the earlier three will sharpen up crew work ahead of the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
A good mix of yachts is currently entered in the Premier Class, for IRC and ORCi competitors, including those heading to Hobart: Kayimai, the Azuree 46 owned by MHYC yachtsman Rob Aldis, SWD Wot Eva (David Pescud) and Noel Cornish’s Sydney 47 St Jude, fresh from winning the Cabbage Tree Island Race.
However, local competition is strong, with sistership DK46’s Nine Dragons and Khaleesi set to go head-to-head again, and Toybox 2 all in the Division 1 mix.
Khaleesi’s Andrew Dally says, “We’re looking forward to having a match up with Dragons again, and hopefully beat them this time. We’re the perpetual bridesmaids!” It’s true, as even minus Nine Dragons, Khaleesi was beaten to the punch by Balance last year.
“St Jude is fresh off his Cabbage Tree win. He (Noel Cornish) is incredibly good offshore and we’ve raced him at regattas a couple of times and just beat them, but sooner or later it will translate to a win for them,” Dally says of the Sydney 47 that is performing well of late.
But a new player has entered the arena in ex-18 footer champion, David Griffith with Yarrandi. The Marten 49 could be the cat amongst the pigeons, having got stuck into it at Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island Race Weeks, finishing divisional third at the latter.
The locals are strong in In Division 2, too. Phil Dash and his Beneteau F40, JustADash looked primed to take the event out last year, but did not correctly round the virtual mark, leading MHYC compatriots, Jack Stening and Col Gunn (Stormaway), to victory. Both are entered again and it will be a dog-eat-dog approach as usual. They will be hard to overcome.
The SSORC is made up of four races – a coastal passage race on Saturday, in conjunction with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Ocean Pointscore, followed by three windward-leeward offshore races on Sunday.
MHYC is also conducting a busy inshore program in association with the SSORC. The Seven Islands Race is a popular feature event – a pursuit that takes the fleet west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, around Spectacle Island and returning to finish at MHYC.
The Super 12 Spring Regatta is expected to attract a good fleet of MC38s along with Super 12s pace-setter, Little Nico (Adrian Walters). Kicking off with a fleet start in Hunters Bay, Balmoral with the Seven Islands passage race on Saturday, it will be followed by three windward-leeward races on the Harbour on Sunday.
“The Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship is going to be bigger and better than ever. The Club is hosting the first TP52 class regatta and the whole program is shaping up well,” says Ian Box, MHYC Special Events Chairman, who is also competing in the Premier class.
Principal Race Officer is Denis Thompson. One of the most highly qualified race manager’s in the sport, in October he was awarded with the President’s Award at the Australian Sailing Awards. Thompson’s team is comprised of MHYC and CYCA officials and volunteers.
Competitors are again invited to soak up the after sailing atmosphere and entertainment on the beach at MHYC on the Saturday and Sunday, with prize presentation to be held on Sunday at about 5pm.