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SailFest Newcastle Regatta - Day 2: Matador takes win as SMB crew takes swim

by Mark Rothfield 16 Apr 11:56 BST 15-16 April 2023
SailFest Newcastle Regatta - Day 2 © Salty Dingo

"We shall fight off the beaches... and we shall never surrender" may well have been the catchcry of David Doherty's TP52 Matador today as it charged like a bull towards its second consecutive Pallas Capital TP52 Gold Cup victory at SailFest Newcastle Regatta.

Racing in Stockton Bight, with sand and surf stretching beyond sight, the CYCA entry took home the TP52 series by 8 points, the IRC title by 4 points and also the scratch results with two firsts and a second placing across the line today.

Yesterday's 2nd placing in the 25 nautical mile passage race was followed with three perfect windward-leeward scores on the class-based TPR handicap and a 1, 1, 2 on IRC.

"The secret was no mistakes," Doherty said modestly. "The boat's fast and we just had a great day. Everyone has been working well together and we're gradually updating the boat and changing our systems. It all panned out well.

"This is a 2009 model but it was a good boat when it was new and we keep modernising it. It suits the windward-leeward format as well, but we work hard and we've got a good crew."

Finishing second overall on TPR and IRC was Gweilo, the overnight leader, and skipper Matt Donald was pleased with the results, given it was such tight racing among the 10 boats.

"It doesn't get much better than that, and we thoroughly enjoyed it," he said. "Our boat prefers to stretch its legs on the passage races, and we had a cracking result on day 1, but today was pretty good.

"Matador, Smuggler and Secret Men's Business are hard to beat in that format. When you have 10 boats on the start line, it's so important to get clear air, and anyone who got away early today was generally in a strong position."

Minor placings went to Smuggler (TPR) and Secret Men's Business (IRC).

Secret Men's Business had a Man Overboard situation in today's first windward-leeward race while rounding the bottom gate, mild swell conditions and a 12-knot northerly prevailing. The Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club mark boat was able to quickly retrieve the for'ardhand and deposit him safely back aboard in less than a minute.

The South Australian yacht, which was on target for victory in the race, offered to withdraw but the outside assistance was deemed allowable under Rule 41 (a) considering the crewman was in some danger.

"The kite came down, then the jib flicked from one side to the other and took him with it," skipper Geoff Boettcher explained. "He did a somersault into the water and the boat swung on top of him, but luckily there were no injuries.

"In the other two races we weren't quite on the pace," Boettcher added. "We need a bit more tweaking but we're 90 per cent there and we'll try harder at Sail Port Stephens in a few weeks."

Boettcher was more jovial about the fact that Matador, his previous boat, had beaten him: "I should've charged him more," he joked.

Meanwhile, Darryl Hodgkinson's Victoire did what few other yachts have managed, which is to account for the Farr 31 So Farr on IRC, although the results couldn't have been tighter - both posted two firsts and two seconds, which meant the result in the final race was the decider. The Carkeek 40 was also the PHS victor, while So Farr took ORC Club.

"We had to work hard for it but we really enjoyed the racing and came through on countback," a delighted Hodgkinson said. "Our IRC rating is pretty terrible but we sail to it and today's relatively flat conditions helped us too.

"A lot of our crew goes back to when we won the Sydney Hobart in 2013 and we're a pretty congenial mob."

The Division 2 passage series was won by the NT30 Neverland on PHS and Concealed Weapon on ORC Club, both representing host club Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club.

Inshore, after two days of tight match racing, the NSW Sailing League finale was won by Woollahra Sailing Club, represented by Jack Ferguson and his team India Gilbert, Brooke Wilson and Ethan Lozevski.

Woollahra will be joined by Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club and Lake Macquarie Yacht Club at the SAILING Champions League - Asia Pacific Finals at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, May 20-21.

The TP52 Gold Cup now rolls on to Sail Port Stephens on May 5-7, while dates for next year's SailFest Newcastle Regatta are April 5-7 - the event also comprising the 2024 Australian Yachting Championships.

SailFest Newcastle is supported by Transport for NSW and City of Newcastle.

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