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Challenge breaks Conspiracy's stranglehold on Sydney 38 One-Design NSW Championship

by Di Pearson/Sydney 38 media 4 Mar 03:55 GMT 2-3 March 2024
Looking down Sydney 38 street - Sydney 38 One-Design NSW Championship © Andrea Francolini

"It's an unbelievable feeling," were the first words Greg Croak spoke ashore after his Challenge crew broke Conspiracy's stranglehold of the Sydney 38 One-Design class at their NSW Championship on the weekend.

Challenge won four of the six windward/leeward races on Sydney Harbour to claim the title of champion. The Championship was again held in conjunction with the Middle Harbour Yacht Club hosted Nautilus Marine Insurance Sydney Harbour Regatta.

David Hudson and Peter Byford's defending champion, Conspiracy, unusually won just one race, but held on to place second overall. And equally unusually, Peter Sorensen's Advanced Philosophy only won a single race to finish third overall, after being touted as 'the one' that would take Conspiracy's title.

"Every year we've sailed a boat that's been quick enough, but couldn't put the game together, but this time we did," said Croak, who represents Royal Motor Yacht Club at Toronto.

"We only had one stumble. Our headsail fell down in the second race," he confessed.

Challenge won after facing the largest field in the class for some years and eight of them were hungry to send Conspiracy on her way.

"It feels good that we can sail so well across such a range of conditions. The races on Saturday were in big gusty winds, but Sunday was very soft with a little swell - I thought that would be our Achilles heel - but it wasn't," Croak said.

Sunday's first race was held in a 6-8 knot north-easterly, the second in the 10 knot range and the final race it blew up to 15 knots.

"The crew kept yelling at me and we got there," Croak recalled. "They're mostly skiff sailors. My nephew and some good friends sailed with us too," explained the yachtsman who normally races Saturdays on Lake Macquarie in an open fleet.

"There are quick boats up the Lake, but no Sydney 38s. We usually have tussles with a Sydney 41. One-design racing is very different."

David Hudson and Peter Byford, winners of the last two NSW Championships adding to their so many other victories in the class, accepted defeat with grace.

"It was very well deserved. Challenge sailed exceptionally well in every race with no mistakes," Hudson said.

On finishing runner-up and counting a fifth and sixth in their scores that were otherwise a win and second places, Hudson conceded, "Even the best run boats have problems."

"In Race 4, we got a bad start and from there, everything fell apart. In Race 5 we had a port and starboard dispute, so in the interest of prudence, we did a 360 degree penalty.

"We did our best, we beat Advanced Philosophy, which was the positive. And we had good racing."

With his President of the Sydney 38 Association hat on, Hudson said, "We had a fleet of nine boats of which four were novices in one-design racing.

"They held their own in every race," he said, referring to Adela II (David Lamond), Avalon (Geoff Ford), Love Byte (David Alais) and Thirlmere (Daniel Belcher/John Hodgkinson).

"They were tight in with the experienced boats in terms of time - there were seconds in the finishes. The racing was incredibly close. It was one of the closest competing regattas we've been in four years. They all did very well and enjoyed it immensely.

"On the final scoreboard, three boats counted a win and four different boats had a second in their score. I think that shows how good the fleet is," Hudson said.

"The feedback we've had makes it exceptionally rewarding. A couple of crews said that of all the Sydney 38 One-Design regattas we've have, this was the tightest they can remember."

On the Sydney 38 class itself, Hudson explained, "We are very strict on our one-design compliance. Some might find it nitpicking, but there's comfort after when they know they've competed on a completely equal level."

The Organising Committee for the Championship comprised of David Hudson, Lisa Callaghan (Association Treasurer) and Tony Levett (Class Measurer).

"Lisa had a lot of great ideas, including our new champion caps. Tony is the measurer and his attention to detail holds true to the one-design factor."

And the final words belong to David Lamond, one of the new kids on the block with Adelia II.

"This is the first time I've done a one-design event. I come from a skiff background," said Lamond, who successfully sailed 16 and 18 foot skiffs back in the day.

"I really enjoyed the Championship. The class will go forever. Racing is close, but make a mistake and you're out the back door. It wasn't long before we were in the mix. Unfortunately, some of my regulars couldn't make it, so it was a cobbled together crew. I'll definitely do it again (one-design racing) and they all said they'd do it again too.

"They're nice in the Class. It all starts with Dave Hudson. He's well organised and helpful and tries to nurture the people. He said he'd give us a special prize when I told him we have a 20 year-old in our crew and she's younger that some of our sails! We'll need to get some new ones."

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