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Left Languishing

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 17 Mar 23:00 GMT
Celebrations after Whimsical wins the Sayonara Cup on Hobart's River Derwent. © Nicole Shrimpton

Trophies are somewhat different from boats. They don't tend to deteriorate quite so badly when they get left alone for ages. Case in point, the Sayonara Cup. It has had several periods in its life when it has been left to its own devices. One was nearly three decades long, and this latest was the relatively short period of 10 years. Now it is handsome, and no doubt back in the day, it cost quite a few Guineas (100 of them actually). Yes, it's that old that this would have been the unit of currency.

I got to learn a lot more about it all from the great Gordon Ingate, now 93 years young. Apart from being living proof that sailing is a sport for life, Ingate explained in detail how the Deed of Gift for it was modelled very closely on the America's Cup, and that it was named after the incredibly elegant and fast, Sayonara, representing the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria. She epitomised technology and pace in the day, with things like hollow spars. Just like the original AC, she would sail on her own bottom to her meet her Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron challenger, and won it, 2:1.

This too is a cornerstone of the whole affair, for although it is now sailed in the International Dragons, back in the day the real glamour girls, like the splendid Acrospire, were the weapons of choice. The glorious 8 metre vessels were then used. In that too, you get to see that whilst the recent history reflects smaller craft, there are more than a few souls asking the question, should it be about Fast 40s, or even TPs? Some even wonder if it could not be offered as the glue that binds all States and Territories in a grand yachting affair for the classics, seeing as you have the likes of Fidelis still around.

Equally, should it now be offered to more than the five clubs that have at one time or another held it. Could we include the Kiwis, and bring some of the majesty of the European classic circuit down-under? Well, these questions now need to be worked through by the powers that be.

So Nicole Shrimpton is credited with being the woman behind this latest, and now successful challenge, after the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron crew on Whimsical won it back on Saturday, four races to two. Matt Whitnall, David Chapman and David Giles were victorious over Nick Rogers. Leigh Behrens and Oliver Burnell, on Karabos IX from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

Shrimpton is most enthusiastic about it all, from history to the future, tactics to mastery and joy of sailing. She said afterwards, "The Sayonara Cup seems to be one of the most romantic cups in sailing. Top Australian sailing clubs pitting their crème de la crème against each other in an epic Interstate match racing fight to the death. It gleams at you and says 'dream if you dare.' I thought why not?"

"It feels like the right time to bring the Sayonara Cup back into play with a trend in match racing, and increased interest in tactics. And there is something about being chosen to represent your club. It's wonderfully old school", Shrimpton added.

"My heart was in my mouth watching those six races in eerily perfect conditions on the River Derwent. Two evenly matched boats dripping with talent in an elegant, but savage duel. At one point Gordon had to look away. I was praying to the spirit of Ernest Digby! (Creator of many of the 8 metres that he designed, built and raced successfully) It was excruciating to watch, but watch we did, until one winner remained. It was a pure primal racing experience."

"The dream has now come true. It was there for the taking, and our RSYS team took it. It is a cup of dreams that once led us to believe that that we could win the greatest match race of them all."

Best of all it seems it won't be left languishing for too long, with plans already in place to look to have it sailed for once again, as early as next year. Additionally, with younger sailors like Chapman and Burnell involved, it seems like there is more than enough interest spanning the years to keep it all alive. We will be most interested to see how that all pans out...

Tacking. At the recent Etchells Victorian State Championship, a boat with a long history of winning kept on doing so. Only with a new crew... AUS 1383, Triad, had been John Bertrand's boat for a long time, but was recently acquired by Kirwan Robb just prior to the Australian Championships, where the new crew quickly showed exactly which part of the fleet they wanted to be in. Triad had even won a race in the World Championship from the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron just late last year, and made her then owner, William Voermann, all smiles.

Triad was the vessel that won the Corinthian Trophy at the event based out of the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, and she placed fourth overall, behind the winners Magpie (Graeme Taylor, James Mayo, and Richie Allanson), then Tango (Chris Hampton, Sam Haines and Chalrie Cumbley), and in third, 1435 (Jeanne-Claude Strong, Tom Slingsby, Marcus Burke, and Kate Devereux). Triad was also three points ahead of Traid2, (John Bertrand, Glenn Ashby, and Billie Browne).

Kirwan Robb sails with Brett Taylor (main), Rodney Muller (tactician, jib, bow), and the young fellow with a lot to offer, Hugo Allison. Of the young Tasmanian, Robb said, "I think he'll be one to watch. He's a natural he's just got it. From the first day we had him onboard, I said check this kid out, calling the breeze, and other boats. He's even up on foils in the Moth, and not getting wet either uphill nor down. Hugo is aiming to win the Cadet Worlds at Williamstown next year."

"We are trying to work out why it is so different to last time we were in the class. We seem to be able to stay with and in amongst the leaders a lot better now. It is good to have a chance to sail against the best in the world, and it is always nice to knock off a few famous names, as well. John has been awesome in showing us all his settings, and nothing has been too much. This was the case ten years ago, as well."

"We are really happy to be competitive with the top crews so quickly after coming back in. Usually it takes a lot of time to get there." They too had a Chinese gybe on the very heavy second day, snapped the kite pole around the stays, and ripped the spinnaker in half. They recovered, thankfully with no damage to humans, and went on to finish and not collect too many points as a result. That consistency, and never placing worse than eighth, is well and truly part of the reason for their overall result of just 26 points.

Robb is also part of Bruce McCracken's Ikon crew. The former IRC Div2 Champions are a family affair, and this year they are off to Hamilton Island. The extended family are also keen real time observers of the Etchells racing, but Robb's own mother says that might wane a little if the crew were not right up there. Their enjoyment stems very much from seeing all of the family get something from their time on board the well prepared 45-footer. McCracken is also exceptionally generous to all, so they all try to repay him in kindness and with time.

Right oh here today there are some gems for you to review. We have information about the AC, and the late Challengers are still standing despite the best efforts of the New York Yacht Club to exclude them. Sound familiar? There's also SailGP, 18s, the Clipper, intel from North Sails, the Vendée, great material from the dinghy show, Classics from Capri, maxis get a new series, blocks by Harken, Golden Globe Race, and certainly there is much, much more.

Remember, if your class or association is generating material, make sure we help you spread your word, and you can do that by emailing us. Should you have been forwarded this email by a friend, and want to get your very own copy in your inbox moving forward, then simply follow the instructions on our newsletter page, where you can also register for different editions.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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