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At the start of the SASC Lion Island Race last year, September, 2017 - photo © John Maclurcan
At the start of the SASC Lion Island Race last year, September, 2017 - photo © John Maclurcan

Admiral’s Cup 50th Anniversary Regatta

The Admiral’s Cup 50th Anniversary Regatta starts on Friday with a race run by the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club (SASC) on the harbour, followed by a gala dinner for over 250 at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (RSYS). The event, run over three days, is sparking tremendous interest around the Sydney waterfront.

Behind the scenes, one gent has been beavering away preparing in a quite different way to the skippers and their yachts. This is John Maclurcan, the person selected by the organising committee to handicap the yachts and produce the results. John has been handicapper at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron for almost 40 years and handicaps, among other events, the PHS divisions of the Sydney Hobart Race, the Australia Day Regatta and most recently, the Sydney Harbour Couta Boat Championship hosted by the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club (RPEYC).

In July this year, as the reality of the Regatta began to form, David Salter, owner of the Swanson designed “Mister Christian”, approached John and asked him if he would take on the job. In John’s words, “My eyes lit up and I said I would be thrilled to tackle the challenge. It is just the sort of event, after 40 years, which I would love to be involved with.”

In that 40 years, John has created an extensive data base of many of the yachts which race around the country. All the data has been processed using his handicap algorithms which he developed long ago but he has polished continually over the years. When John received the list of entries, he was pleased to see that only 2 were not in his Data Base.

Twilight - At the helm of “Morag Bheag”, which we have owned for 48 years and I first sailed on after its launch in May 1969 © John Maclurcan

Twilight – At the helm of “Morag Bheag”, which we have owned for 48 years and I first sailed on after its launch in May 1969 © John Maclurcan

Generating the handicaps is one thing, but John is also able to process the results on SailSys, a race management package which incorporates John’s handicapping. SailSys is currently in use at the RSYS, the RPEYC and RANSA. John also uses it himself to supply the CYCA the handicaps for all their events and other individual events around Sydney.

The challenge for John is to make the Regatta inclusive. The configurations of the yachts vary. Some have a full sail wardrobe like “Love and War’ and some may not even carry spinnakers. John reserves the right to process each race to generate new handicaps. He will be on the finish boats observing the fleet. Once again quoting John, “My goal is to have a variety of boats in contention for the final result. Unlike a fixed handicap like IRC, the PHS can reflect what actually happens on the water and in this Regatta, there is no other option.”

Above all, the spirit of the event is what is important. Gatherings of old friends reliving past glories are what this event is all about but let’s hope John is able to generate some joy in the results too.

by John Maclurcan

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