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. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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


Rowan Simpson,


Southern Chapter.


News Update

The 38s are firing up!

With the new sailing season upon us I can honestly say I have never seen the Sydney 38 Association Committee so busy! So it is timely to provide a brief update on what is going on behind the scenes.

The next National Championships are going to set a new benchmark for the Sydney 38s so read more about what Bruce Ferguson and his sub-committee have been up to later in this newsletter. We also have some important decisions in front of us in relation to our class rules so make sure you are a financial member of the Association and have your say. You can attend the AGM either in person or via our telephone conferencing facility. See details below.

Whatever your plans – safe and fast sailing.

Nationals 2015 shaping up to be the best in some time!

A Team of Sydney 38 owners and supporters at the RPAYC have been working diligently since March to create a superb 2015 nationals. The team’s objective is to increase the number of boats participating in the event.

The strategy is to enlarge participation through having a Sydney yachts rally that will include the Sydney 32, Sydney 36 and other Sydney yachts into a regatta that incorporates the Sydney 38 nationals. This is supported by the early announcement of the dates of 20-22 February 2014 at RPAYC.

While we hope to get as many owners to race their own boats as possible, for various reasons, some may not be in a position to race. In this case we plan to get as many of these boats available for charter as possible. The team is in the process of creating a “plug and play” charter where the boat paperwork, access, quality, etc is as standard and easy as possible for charterers and the boat owners.

We are planning to make this the first OD event that incorporates a sailor with a disability, RPAYC’s Daniel Fitzgibbon, current Olympic Gold medallist and World SKUD18 champion who will be competing in Another Challenge, a very fitting legacy for the boat and for the late Lou Abrahams.

The event is shaping up to be a great showcase for the fleet, with multiple sponsors coming on board. At this stage we have Performance Boating as the naming sponsor, North Sails, 318 Fasteners, G Brothers Mercedes, Quay Marina locked in.

The team is in the process of creating a fun social and racing program for the event, and will be sending an information pack to owners soon, together with logistics and information on charters, timing and similar details.

All interested boat owners should go to Regattas & Championships at the RPAYC for notice of race and to enter.

For additional information, contact Jo Beashel at [email protected]

See you in Pittwater!


Our AGM is planned for mid-November and will be held via tele-conference so all members can participate where ever they happen to be. Venues in Sydney and Melbourne will be arranged so members can gather and consider various matters including the important issue of whether the class should change to a mast head kite as a class. There will be separate information circulated to all members on the pros and cons and the process involved should the 2/3 majority vote be successful. There will also be some important practical and administrative changes made to the constitution and class rules. Again these changes will be laid out prior to the AGM so any questions and concerns can be addressed.

Please make every effort to return you ballot papers once received and attend the AGM. It is your association after all.


The Association Facebook page continues to get plenty of interest and traffic. Some stories are getting over 500 views! You can “like” us here https://www.facebook.com/#!/sydney38class to stay in touch with the latest news or check out our web page http://www.sydney38class.com/ Read about the recent win by Phoenix in the preseason sprints regatta held on Corio Bay.

Did you see the full page advertisement for our Nationals in last months Australian Sailing magazine? Thanks to our Nationals sponsor Performance Boating for making this possible.

As always if you have some news or a cool photo drop me a line at [email protected]

Sydney 38s in South Australia are building

The Victorian fleet was sad to see Clockwork Orange finally sold and heading west over to S.A.. But it is fair to say that Victoria’s loss will be S.A.s gain as Clockwork has always been one of the quicker boats around. The S.A. fleet is now 6 boats and they are looking to hold an OD State titles as part of the Lincoln Regatta next February. Anthony Wilson off Slipknot is the S.A. rep and he can be contacted on [email protected]

 NSW State titles

With the current focus on the Nationals in Pittwater, the NSW Chapter plan to hold the NSW State titles as part of Sail Port Stephens next April. So pencil this into the diary. I hear it is a great venue and a great event. Further details will come out over coming months.

Festival of Sail – Geelong

The next major regatta for the 38s is the FOS in Geelong over the Australia Day weekend. It will be a three day Grade 1 regatta starting Friday 23rd of January. With four (maybe even six) Victorian boats committed to race in Pittwater in the Nationals this will be a key tune up regatta for the Vic fleet. It is great to hear that Slip Knot will be coming over from S.A. as well. We expect a feel of 10+ boats.

Membership of the Association

It is very important that if the 38s are going to retain their appeal as a one design class that we have a healthy association and good levels of participation. We appreciate that not every owner wants to take on Grade 1 events or race in the Sydney to Hobart but it is important that we have your input and support as a member. At $200 a year I hope you agree that being a member of the Association is a good investment. The Committee work hard to maintain the rules, answer technical queries, run events and promote the class. So please give us your support and if you haven’t already, pay your subs. Any queries can be sent to Jo at [email protected]

Greg Clinnick

Class President



Morris Finance Short Course Regatta – Geelong

Morris Finance Sydney 38 regatta Congratulations to the Geelong Crew on Phoenix for winning the Morris Finance Sydney 38 regatta last weekend. Co-owners Jenny & Brenton Carnell lead their team to victory over the 7 race series in both the championship and Corinthian trophies. Phoenix was consistently filling the top places and won easily by the end of the event. The minor places were filled by Challenge – Mark Bulka in 2nd and Audacious – Greg Clinnick. Saturday saw Southerly breezes slowly build through the day from 5 – 12knots. Four races were sailed and crews relished the conditions. Sunday saw much lighter conditions throughout the day with shifty breezes. Phoenix didn’t falter and maintained their winning way. See the video link below and results here: http://www.rgyc.com.au/results/alpha1415/S38/series.htm





Sydney 38 Nationals and Sydney Yachts 2015 Regatta

The Sydney 38 Class Association and Performance Boating Sales (PBS) are delighted to announce the first all-encompassing regatta for the Sydney Yachts range, the Sydney Yachts 2015 Regatta. The event will take place at RPAYC next February the 20th to 22nd with the Sydney 38OD’s racing as a class, then 32’s, 36’s, 36CR’s, 39CR’s, 40’s, 41’s, 46’s and maybe the 60 racing under PHS. Past and present Sydney Yacht owners are being invited to attend with various models available for charter, as there are also overseas owners expected to take part.

PBS were proud to be the Australian agents for this local brand which is stating to produce new models. PBS are equally proud to be the premier sponsor of the Sydney Yachts 2015 Regatta. According to PBS records there must be something in the region of 115 yachts in Australia and the organising committee are hoping for a huge turnout. If you haven’t already registered your interest here is a 

 to the Notice of Race, or you would like more information please contact the S38 Class Association at [email protected].


Quantum Sails 2014 Victorian State Championships

In the tightest contest in the history of the championship, Challenge was ultimately crowned the winner of the 2014 Quantum Sails Sydney 38 Victorian Title hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club last weekend. There is no doubt the gap between the 9 Sydney 38 competitors has narrowed as the highlight of the series was the close racing.  There were four different heat winners with Challenge , Phoenix  and Chutzpah 38 winning two races each and Mille Sabords leading from start to finish in race 3.

After day one of racing Phoenix lead by 3 points with Chutzpah38, Playground Challenge and Clockwork all locked on 13 points . However, Challenge came out blazing on Day 2 of the regatta with two bullets to lead into the last race. A match race at the start of the final race saw Challenge get the better of Pheonix to consolidate the win.

Conditions were relatively light with winds from the south east between 8 and 15 knots throughout the weekend. However, the breeze was far from steady with pressure patches and on Saturday in particular, a right hand track favoured.

 Race 1. It was North racing team which dominated the first race. Chutzpah38 (Bruce Taylor) with North Sails Noel Drennen calling the shots, jumped out of the blocks to lead from start to finish with Playground (Andrew Robinson) ably assisted by Arron Cole also from North Sails filling in as Noel’s wingman. Clockwork (Gordon Mather and Frank McDermott) held off Challenge (Mark Bulka) by one second to finish fourth.

 Race 2.  In a close race Challenge  infringed Phoenix (Brenton & Jen Carnell) in a port and starboard incident when the crew overruled their skipper (Yes it was the crew’s call!). The resultant penalty turn enabled Phoenix to sail away to snatch a win. Third and definitely in the hunt was Clockwork.

 Race 3.  Whilst Phoenix and Challenge were playing games with each other, it was Mille Sabords ( Stephane Howarth ) who played the right side of the course to lead throughout the race for a well deserved first win in a championship regatta.  

 Race 4.  A dominate performace by Pheonix placed her ahead on points at the end of day 1,  Playground and  Chutzpah 38 also did well whilst Challenge one second behind was looking for a change of luck.

 Race 5, After some overnight soul searching it was Mark Bulka’s  brilliant pin end start that had Challenge leap ahead to win from Clockwork who did Challenge a favour by snatching second on the finish line from Pheonix.

 Race 6. A fired up Mark Bulka had Challenge at full pace off the start to have a convincing win after picking up some pressure on the left on the first beat. Sierra Chainsaw (Andrew Mollison), disappointing thus far in the regatta, sailed an excellent race to finish second ahead of Pheonix. Challenge’s luck had turned for the better as the gap had widened and Chutzpah 38 had her worst race of the regatta. No drop series certainly favour consistency!

 Race 7. It was now down to the wire with only Phoenix and Challenge, one point apart ,that had a chance to win the series. When Pheonix locked onto Challenge’s stern in the pre start, Mark Bulka muttered “bring it on” and gybed when he needed to and tacked back to the start leaving Pheonix in his wake. You might think the regatta was won at this stage but being on board Challenge this was far from the case. We lost the plot on the first run watching our nemesis and were passed by a few boats.  Our 6th place indicated the amount of distraction on the boat but Pheonix could do no better than 8th, so the title was retained for another year. 

Meanwhile, Chutzpah38 finished where she had started in race 1 with a win whilst Sierra Chainsaw were no doubt pleased to finish ahead of Playground which continues to improve with every regatta.

 Final placings were :-

 1.   Challenge (Mark Bulka ) 21 points

2.   Phoenix (Brenton &  Jen Carnell) 24 points

3.   Playground (Andrew Robinson) 26 points

4.   Chutzpah 38 (Bruce Taylor) 29 points

5.   Clockwork ( Gordon Mather & Frank McDermott)  32 points

6.   Mille Sabords ( Stephane Howarth)  40 points

7.   Sierra Chainsaw (Andrew Mollison) 43 points

8.   Audacious (Greg Clinnick & Paul Holden) 45 points

9.   38 Degrees South  (John Chatham) 55 points

 In the Corinthian division it was Phoenix 1st, Clockwork 2nd and Sierra Chainsaw 3rd.

 An enjoyable social function was held on Saturday night for competitors and the presentation held on Sunday after the racing was completed. Many thanks to our sponsors, Quantum Sails and Ronstan.

 At the presentation, Mark and his crew acknowledged the recent passing of the boat’s owner Lou Abrahams and dedicated the win to him.  Mark also commented that it was “the closest Sydney 38 regatta he had been involved in” and that “the standard of racing in the fleet had reached another level”. Furthermore, it had been “a stressful series” as a result of a poor first day on the water  and he was “very relieved” to the win. The Phoenix team in particular, need to be congratulated for frequently journeying from Geelong to seek out competition to improve their skills.  However, he was “not quite ready to pass on the batten.”  Challenge is for sale so the regatta may well be the end of an era for the crew.

 The regatta was very well managed both on and off the water by Sandringham Yacht Club and the numerous volunteer race management, jury and office officials are to be both congratulated and thanked for their effort.


Vale “Louie the Legend”

Last Thursday, 27th February, 2014, Lou Abrahams the owner Of“Challenge”, hull number 3863, passed away peacefully after a long battle with illness aged 86 years.  Lou was a passionate supporter of One Design racing and a wonderful ambassador for the Sydney 38 class. He previously owned “Another Challenge”, hull number 3817 which he sold to Chris Lewin in 2004 to race as a university team in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race that year. Lou very much supported young sailors and introduced many talented sailors particularly with dinghy backgrounds to the class, in particular Carl Schmidt and more recently Mark Bulka.

I can recall travelling to Sydney with Lou and Carl to test sail the first Sydney 38, “Asylum” on the harbor. After tacking upwind in a brisk southerly, we blasted down the harbour, passing a well known Cookson 40. Lou said “I think we should get one!” Lou loved his Sydney 38’s and particularly enjoyed his deliveries just as much as he did the racing. He sailed “Another Challenge’ to the Whitsundays on 3 occasions. A convert to 40 footers because they “fit between the waves” Lou thought theSydney 38 was strong and competitive enough to compete in seven of his forty – four Sydney to Hobart races. In 2003, “Another Challenge” was second and in 2006 “Challenge” was third overall in the IRC results.

But it was One Design racing that excited him. “No rating wars, rule changes and chasing the last second of the handicaps.” Lou loved his Sydney 38’s and the close racing saying on many occasions “how good is this!” Right up to his passing, Lou was interested in how his boat was performing and was particularly thrilled with “Challenge” winning the National Championship in 2014 sailed at Geelong. This was the fourth time his name appears on the trophy. One of the main reasons for this success was his ability to hold a strong team together. As he was on land, he was quietly spoken, but inspirational to the extent he had the respect of his crew who felt privileged to sail on his yachts. His philosophy was “No excuse to lose!” so his boats were well equipped and prepared.

After winning the 2014 series, the crew got together at Sandringham Yacht Club three weeks ago for a celebration. This was to be Lou’s last visit to the Club he loved dearly and the following picture will become a fond memory to the crew, many of whom have been sailing with Lou for 10 or more years.

Lou received many personal awards including:-

Australian Ocean Racer of the Year in 1984 and 1990

Victorian Yachtsman of the Year in 1983 and 2006

Veteran Ocean Racing of the Year in 2006

Commonwealth Medal For Services to Sailing in 2002

He also served as Commodore of the Sandringham Yacht Club and was on the Executive of the Sydney 38 Association since buying his first Sydney 38 until recently.

At the recent National Championships, it was announced that “Challenge” is now on the market so with the passing of Lou and the imminent sale of his yacht, these events will leave a large hole in the Victorian yachting scene. Lou will always be remembered as a true gentleman who was admired as much for his gentle nature as his yachting achievements. However, the legend of Lou Abrahams will be forever in our minds.

Rowan Simpson

28th February, 2014



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