This Saturday at least 38 Beneteau owners will shun a mixed start line in favour of their own exclusive opportunity to join the 10th anniversary celebrations of the annual Beneteau Regatta Pittwater held on one of Sydney’s most stunning waterways.
Organiser Shane Crookshanks from the Vicsail Pittwater office at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club is anticipating 160 skippers and crew on the water this Saturday, May 1, and even more for the presentation dinner that evening.
“This will be the tenth time we have hosted a Beneteau Regatta on Pittwater,” said Crookshanks.
“For many of the entrants this is the only regatta or race they do all year. The emphasis is on fun out on the water. It’s a chance to have a light-hearted race with like-minded people who enjoy their boats, but of course some take it very seriously.”
It might be about fun but there will be a splash of sailing celebrity on the water this Saturday with North Sails’ Julian Plante joining the crew of Alibi, a First 40 and sistership of Rolex Sydney Hobart winner Two True, and well known blue water yachtsman Michael Fountain lending a skilful hand aboard his father-in-law’s First 40.7 Bushranger.
Jamie and Jenny Neil have put their days of white knuckle downwind sailing behind them and are now enjoying a more leisurely pace having moved on from their tiny red maxi chaser called the Cone of Silence to a more comfy First 47.7 called Crone of Silence.
Joining them on the start line on Saturday will be Hamish and Michelle Petrie’s local boat Ngak Ngak, at 57 feet the largest entered, and Michael Roper’s Ropabull, which is race-ready having just returned from contesting the Commodore’s Cup at Sail Port Stephens.
The prize for the furthest travelled will again go to Chris McSorley , the owner/skipper of First 45f5 Magique. He will fly in from Melbourne to compete, as he has done every year since the regatta’s inception, while one of his crew will make the journey down from Mooloolaba.
“It’s great fun and we love taking part, although this weekend is looking like it may bring wet weather and light winds,” said McSorley today. So will the forecast disadvantage Magique? “We all need lots of breeze, they aren’t lightweight Farr 30s,” he laughed.
The day will begin in true Beneteau style with a champagne briefing at 11am followed by a race briefing at 12pm prior to a scheduled 1pm start when the fleet will set off on their 10 mile course around Pittwater with the starter’s gun ringing in their ears.
Handicaps will be based on PHS for spinnaker and non spinnaker and organisers have promised an IRC division for the larger boats if there is sufficient interest.
The fun will really begin back at the RPAYC après racing when Australian entertainer Ian Turpie emcees Saturday evening’s presentation dinner. Turpie has attended every Pittwater regatta since day dot and has become an institution with the owners and crew, telling jokes that range from “shocking to a bit on the edge to funny” according to Crookshanks. Turpie is also expected to entertain the crowd by strumming a few songs on his guitar with the band, the Wonderbrass, who have played at the last five regattas.
Major sponsors for this year’s Beneteau Regatta are commercial kitchen suppliers Zanussi and J.L Lennard with the major prize a 9oz spinnaker from Quantum Sails. It will be drawn during the presentation dinner from amongst the entries and for the team at Quantum, it’s fingers crossed a small boat will win it!
Lucky door prizes include a choice of Electrolux dishwasher or front load washing machine; skippered charter on board a brand new Beneteau Oceanis 40 The Floating Bear courtesy of Smart Boating; insurance vouchers from Club Marine; a case of Stripey's best wine courtesy of Boat Stripes; gear from North Sails, Hood Sails and Evolution Sails; AC shoes; hull polish from the RPAYC; wine thanks to Wild Oats; Harken gear; free slipping from Boatmate; diver to clean the hull; Raytech navigation software from Raymarine; hats; t-shirts and more.
The Beneteau design has enjoyed great success in the past 12 months with the highlight an outright win by Andrew Saies’ Two True and a second overall in the 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.