Under the stars

The recent Overnight Challenge hosted by the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria proved successful, with Jaffa coming out on top.

10 October 2022


Last weekend a fleet of 15 entrants sailed all night in the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria’s (ORCV) Overnight Challenge on Port Phillip Bay.

“A race that offered a bit of everything, in perfect conditions,” said Andrew Neeson, skipper of Runnalls 39 Jaffa and overall winner.

As we head into the next offshore sailing season, the Overnight Challenge provided a training platform for skippers and crew in the ORCV Beyond the Bay program to develop night sailing skills.

Over 18 hours, the challenge requires crews to use strategy, manage navigation and crew watches ensuring their boat is optimal to gain challenge points.

Choosing from one of four possible starting points, the crews can pick up quick points to get a good head start, making the most of the start conditions before coming together and sailing a common course to the finish line.


Points are awarded based on the distance travelled for their handicap and points are removed for those late to arrive to the hospitality of Hobsons Bay Yacht Club’s breakfast.

“It was definitely a challenge that offered one with the lot,” said Andrew Neeson.

“We started just off Royal Brighton Yacht Club in perfect twelve knot breezes with spinnakers up. Overnight it was warm with clear skies and only six knots of wind, which changed to pea soup fog just around dawn.

“Quite simply, it was a great challenge to develop the crew skill for night sailing before attempting an offshore race. Jaffa is a boat that can’t take passengers and was a great taste for what it’s like to sail nonstop.

“We set up watches and using all the safety gear of jackstays and tethers we ran the boat overnight as we would on a longer offshore race.

“It’s a two-year program that we are running through building crew as we move to a more local crew base from Jaffa’s previous WA-based crew.”

Mark Cunnington, part of the ORCV’s Beyond the Bay program and skipper of the Beneteau 40.7 Panacea summed up their experience as, “in a different league to other programs I’ve done.

“The practical application such as this challenge and that hands on practical and building in knowledge, really makes the difference.

“Planning, provisioning, looking at the risks and running shifts throughout the night made our night go so fast. Having our mentor, Edel on board was awesome, and a real comfort as she kept an eye on things with sail trim, tactics, I think even when she was resting.

“We had a great crew who really were buzzing on the way home, having successfully completed their first full night of sailing and who now are really looking forward to that next practical day with the short coastal passage out of the heads.”

If you would like to join the next ORCV training coastal passage on 22 October with the Longitude Coastal Passage, entries will open this week and close on 19 October.

Results of the Overnight Challenge:


1st – Jaffa R39 (Skipper Andrew Neeson)
2nd – Yolla R1030 (Skipper Patrick Clarke)
3rd – Aileron R6785 (Skipper Leo Cantwell)

Beyond the Bay crews:

1st – Panacea 80808 (Skipper Mark Cunnington)
2nd – Bushranger SM404 (Skipper Nick Darlow)
3rd – Pizazz SM7308 (Skipper Michael Vandertop)

Special prizes awarded to: 

Safari – the most enthusiastic participants.
Ariel 11 – shortest crew.
Liberte – newest ORCV participant.



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