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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

East Coast current stalls fleet.

by News Editor on 9 Oct 2000
Jessica Statham
After the enforced Olympic break, the Sydney Summer season's keelboat racing started on Saturday.

Some 50 yachts milled around the Shark Island startline in the CYCA's first Short Ocean Race and second Short Haul Race for 2000-2001.

Notable in the fleet was Julian Farren-Price's new precision machine, About Time, David Pescud and his team with the new Aspect Computing, Nigel Bramwell in a farewell drive of his Sydney 46 Hawk which is just about to be shipped to Peru. Warren Johns on his new-hulled Heaven Can Wait and Dennis McDonald skippering his new pride & joy, Sharp One Step Ahead, which was the Farr 40 Sharp Clarity.

The Division 1 start saw a group of yachts including Infinity III, Heaven Can Wait, Sword of Orion and Hawk over early and one by one they went back…

In the fluky Harbour north easterly at about 4-6kont and with an incoming tide, the Eastern Shore paid dividends and the fleet compressed through the Sydney Heads.

2B Titan Ford with Stan Zemanek at the helm, Infinity III and Aspect Computing were amongst the first to the weather mark, with a mixed bunch including Hicko on Ausmaid, Sword of Orion, Graham Gibson's Ninety Seven, the two Farr 40's Syntegra Rapscallion and Sharp One Step on close company.

The tide at this bottom mark was running over a knot and the breeze was beginning to drop. Anxious eyes were looking northwards for the expected 15-20 knot sea breeze and boats were carefully positioned on the light run.

However the second beat turned into a marathon. With Sydney almost lost in the bushfire haze and the breeze still dropping the fleet crept back northeast.

Crews gathered on the leeward rail could see that the front runners were making less and less progress towards the weather mark.

The battle between the increasing East Coast southern flow close to the mark and the dying breeze was causing some spectacular fleet position changes.

Some of the second & third division and the Short Haul fleet were still approaching the weather mark for the first time and it was going to be a very long afternoon.

The race was sensibly abandoned when it became apparent that the turning mark might well be unreachable with the strong current flow.

So without the expected sea-breeze, it was a fruitless day for the fleet, but it was the coolest place to be in Sydney, with a top temperature in the high 30's.

Next Friday night the Short Haul fleet has a 7pm start and the Bluewater fleet an 8pm start for the 85-mile Bird Island Race. It will be interesting to see whether Shockwave hits out then or just holds itself ready for the Sydney to Hobart qualifier the 180-mile Cabbage Tree Island race.

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