Beneteau Yachts annual regatta blasted off strongly thanks to a blustery southerly breeze that propelled the 44 boat fleet rapidly around their respective courses on Sydney Harbour. To start the day crews were fuelled up by a convivial champagne breakfast, as joint commodores Ian and Andrea Treleaven regaled the 300 attendees who packed the CYCA at Rushcutters Bay with their cruising exploits aboard their trusty Oceanis 50. “We loved the Med but motored for 70% of the time whereas in the Caribbean we sailed for 99% of our time,” a jovial Andrea told the gathered competitors.
On the race course the fleets split into their respective divisions - IRC, Spinnaker, Non-spinnaker – and Beneteau 57 . However the rough and tumble of the brisk windward/leeward courses proved to be good a leveller, preventing some of the faster boats such as the double line honours winner First 45 Honeysuckle from claiming the overall handicap trophy in IRC, that went to Howard Piggot’s First 40, Flying Cloud. A philosophical second placed Ray Harris said he greatly enjoyed the day. “It was a bit of blast today and we felt we were the fastest boat on the course but it wasn’t quite good enough to give us enough time on Howard,” said Ray.
Only metres separated the 10 boat IRC fleet at times as they flew fractional spinnakers for the fast run to round Fort Denison that saw speeds of 12knots and more. Elsewhere the spinnaker division had plenty of cut and thrust with some colourful vocals as the fleet converged at the windward mark in Rose Bay. Final honours were claimed by David Pulver’s First 42 S7, Second Chance, from Fritz Mare’s First 53 F5, Ocean Road.
The popular non-spinnaker division revelled in the heavy conditions with boats such as the evergreen First 305 of Bob Swan, who’d made the voyage from Gosford, rubbing shoulders at times with flagship Beneteau 57’s that regally cut through the chop under leaden skies as the Friday afternoon wore on. The conclusion of the two race series saw Big Kahoona (Steve MacManus, First 44.7) finish ahead of second placed In Cahoots, Patrick Easton’s Ocean 473. Elsewhere Bob Felton’s Losel took out the title in the Beneteau 57 division, followed by Hamish Petrie’s Knak Knak.
With each division enjoying fast passage times during their two races and with an onboard lunch between events kindly supplied by Beneteau distributor Vicsail, thirsty crews retired to the CYCA to enjoy a beer as Vicsail Principal Brendan Hunt and marketing manager Lucy Hogan got the prize giving underway. Competitors were well rewarded with an impressive list of donated prizes from sponsors that included Harken, Sydney Boat Works, Club Marine, Wichard, River Quays, AC Shoes, North Sails and numerous others.
Many of those skippers and crew who’d not made the podium were consoled with valuable gifts including spinnakers from Quantum Sails, Raymarine plotters, Hamilton Island package holidays and loads of deck gear and apparel.
A very special prize this year went to the effusive Paul Clitheroe who showed off his many colourful bruises sustained from a gruelling Lord Howe Island race, which nevertheless earned him second place on the podium. Clitheroe and crew were awarded the Beneteau Cup, a special accolade given only to those Vicsail consider to be outstanding members of the Beneteau family. “We pushed our First 45 hard this year in the Hobart and especially the Lord Howe race and it’s testament to these boats that it got us there safely, “Clitheroe told the crowd during his acceptance speech.
The afternoon moved up a gear as stunning soul singer AJ elegantly descended the club house stairs regaling the crowd. Her repertoire continued into the evening as crews tucked into fresh salmon and steaks as the sun set over the 19th annual Beneteau Regatta.