Whilst the Victorian Chapter of the Sydney 38 Association enjoyed another very successful 2013 / 2014 season, my reflections of the past twelve months are both sad and satisfied. Sad because of the passing of Lou Abrahams, past committee man, passionate Sydney 38 One Design supporter and four time winner of the Sydney 38 National Championships. Lou was the backbone of the Victorian fleet and his boats, Another Challenge and Challenge were the boats to beat. Hundreds of sailors and friends celebrated of his life at the Sandringham Yacht in March, 2014. He will be sadly missed.
Satisfied, because the Southern Chapter enjoyed great One Design racing which was well supported and extremely competitive. The addition of Pheonix (Brenton & Jen Carnell) lifted the standard of racing and the improved performances of Playground (Andrew Robinson) and Audacious (Greg Clinnick & Holden) particularly stand out. It was also great to see the Commodore of Sandringham Yacht Club, Kate Mitchell, buy into John Chatham’s 38 Degrees South. Mille Sabords’ (Stephane Howarth) performance in the 2014 Sydney to Hobart and her enthusiasm to the Sydney 38 is also high in my recollections of the season.
The Southern Chapter calendar provided One Design racing throughout the year commencing with a pre season weekend regatta at Geelong, a season long Summer Sprint Series, the 2014 National Championships as part of the Festival Sails at Geelong, the 2014 State Championship and a winter series to wrap up a very busy year. Throw in a successful class promotional day and it is fair to say the eleven Sydney 38 owners and their crews had great value for money. It is also particularly flattering for the class to be invited to participate in various regattas on Port Phillip Bay as a One Design Class.
2013 /2014 Highlights
- 1. 2014 Morris Finance National Championship
It was Victoria’s turn to host the 2014 National Championship at Royal Geelong Yacht Club as part of the Festival Of Sails. Whilst the regatta attracted a disappointing entry of only 9 boats, including the well travelled Zen (Gordon Ketelby) from NSW, the racing was of a high standard and extremely close. After being placed 3rd overall after the first day of racing, Lou Abraham’s Challenge helmed by Chris Jackson, steadily improved to win the series from Phoenix and Zen. There were many different heat winners but it was consistency rather than pace which determined Challenge as the winner of the series.
A successful social function on Saturday evening provided a great opportunity for crews to chat and discuss the racing. Many thanks to Ian Murray (Cinquante) and his company Morris Finance for sponsoring the regatta.
- 2. 2014 Quantum Sails Victorian Championships
The 2014 Quantum Sails Victorian Championship was hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club over the weekend of 12th and 13th of April. As a final tribute to Lou Abrahams, Mark Bulka and the Challenge team salvaged a close win from Pheonix and the rapidly improving Playground. Chutzpah38 (Bruce Taylor) after winning two heats was a close 4th place. A highlight was Mille Sabords winning a heat, under pressure from both Challenge and Pheonix.
Stephane’s performance illustrates the strength of One Design racing and that persistence pays off.
The Corinthian division was won by Pheonix from Clockwork (Gordon Mathers and Frank McDermott) and Sierra Chainsaw (Andrew Mollison & Family). The Saturday night social and presentation was well supported and the regatta sailed in good spirit. Thanks to David Eickmeyer from Quantum sails for his support.
- 3. 2014 Morris Finance Pre Season Regatta
The Morris Finance Regatta is without doubt the most looked forward to regatta on the calendar. The Royal Geelong Yacht Club opens its doors to the Sydney 38 sailors and after a winter lay off is an opportunity to dust off the cobwebs and establish the peaking order for the season. Sailed over the weekend of 15th and 16th September over light and testing conditions, Pheonix won from Challenge and Audacious who enjoyed one of her most consistent series. Without a hiccup in race 6, Audacious would have finished second in the regatta. Pheonix’s performance again illustrated that to win in the Sydney 38 class which promotes no drop points scores, consistency is the key to winning. The regatta was well supported by 9 boats and the Saturday evening dinner was enjoyed by all crews. Again, much appreciation to Ian Murray and Morris Finance for his continued support and to the Royal Geelong Yacht Club for their hospitality.
4. 2013 / 2014 Sydney 38 UK Sailmakers Summer Aggregate
The UK Sailmakers Summer Series made up of 21 races spread over a number of Sunday mornings and events such as the Lipton Cup during the summer. To allow competitors time to compete in other events such as the Sydney to Hobart and other offshore events 4 drops were allowed. The series was won comfortably by Challenge from Audacious and Pheonix which deserves a special mention as she sails from Geelong to compete. This involves a 4 to 5 hour trip each way.
The racing on Sunday mornings allows crews time to compete in other events and frees up Saturdays. The sprints have been popular and have attracted good support with up to 10 starters on any one day. Each race should take no longer than 45 minutes. Thanks to Sam Haines from UK Sailmakers for sponsoring the series.
5. 2014 ORCV Helly Hansen Winter Series
This winter the Sydney 38’s were invited to participate in the ORCV Winter Series. As the racing involves a full day it was an interesting experiment for the class. Five Sydney 38’s participated in the seven race series. The event was won by Sierra Chainsaw on a count back from Phoenix after winning four races with Audacious third. Combining One Design sprints with big boat courses did have some teething problems but clearly the publicity was good for the class.
6. One Design One Passion Promotion Day
On the 16th March, the Southern Chapter with the help of the Sandringham Yacht Club hosted a Sydney 38 promotion day under the theme of “One Design – One Passion”. Over 30 people participated. Jessica Watson spoke with her usual enthusiasm about her experiences racing a Sydney 38 in the Sydney to Hobart before six Sydney 38’s took part in a couple of mock races. For inexperienced sailors, the racing was very exciting and perhaps too close for the 20 knot conditions! Promotional tee shirts were also on sale. Based on the feedback, the day was a success and at least one sailor who travelled from South Australia to participate, committed to buy a Sydney 38. A number of crew were also recruited.
7. The 2014 / 2015 Sydney 38 Southern Chapter Sailing Calendar
The calendar is posted on the class website and provides owners with a spread of events to keep racing tight and interesting. The Summer Series NOR also allows boats who wish to participate in the 2015 Nationals average points if they miss a day’s racing. At this stage at least 4 Victorian boats have expressed interest to participate in the next Nationals at Pittwater.
8. Boat Movements
Unfortunately, the Southern Chapter fleet lost Clockwork to South Australia at the end of the season. Clockwork was always well campaigned and a fast boat so our lost will be their gain. In addition, Challenge has been recently sold but will stay in Victoria. We wish both new owners all the very best success with their boats.
9. Appreciation To Office Bearers
On behalf of the Southern Chapter owners, I would like to express their appreciation to the President, Greg Clinnick, Treasurer, Andrew Robinson, Chief Measurer and his team, John Chatham and the rest of the Executive for their commitment to the class. When keelboat sailing in general is struggling, it is great to see the Sydney 38 class is in a good place