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Foredeckie gets the spinnaker all hooked up. - 2017 Beneteau Pittwater Cup © John Curnow
Foredeckie gets the spinnaker all hooked up. - 2017 Beneteau Pittwater Cup © John Curnow

Beneteau Pittwater Cup

There was more than enough going on at the 2017 Beneteau Pittwater Cup to keep the mind whirring.

A large, 26-boat fleet for the 16th running of the regatta meant there were loads of participants appearing from 0900hrs at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. For some it was their first time, and whether they were owner or crew, they mingled in with the regulars and seasoned salts with the help of the crew of Flagstaff Marine/Vicsail Sydney.

There were the usual paperwork items to attend to, and then breakfast and Champagne were must do items. Well perhaps a good review of the sailing instructions, where the course from the Taylors Bay area to up and around Lion Island, via a little duck into a mark near Mackerel Beach. There were four starts with a few of the fleet away in the first, and then the bulk using the third and final starts to begin their odyssey for the day.

Now if you had been on the water a little after midday on Saturday, you would not have let yourself think that there would be any racing for a long time, but the first two divisions did get away on time, just. Shortly thereafter, and as Division Three struggled to even make the line, let alone cross it, the Answering pennant was hoisted, and a 20 minute delay ensued. Well done to Race Management, for it was a brave call at about 1245hrs to send them off, but their courage was met with conviction, and the ride North improved as the afternoon wore on.

Equally, Friday’s weather did not hold a lot of good tidings, and Sunday’s delivered copious amounts of liquid joy from the heavens. So you would not have come to think that nestled firmly in between was the most glorious of days, where the breeze delivered a healthy, and completely usable, East Nor’easter of up to 12 knots in the end.

Then the most curious of thoughts also arrived, for you would not have contemplated that dispersed throughout the fleet of Beneteaus were accomplished Volvo Ocean Race stars, Sydney to Hobart legends, 18-foot Skiff Champions and also relatives of sailors about to commence the 35th edition of the America’s Cup. Yet there they were helping new owners master their boats, and ensuring all were safe and happy. That is certainly one magnificent achievement for the traditional Beneteau regatta on Pittwater.

In the case of Greg Newton, he was helming his Oceanis 45 Antipodes of Sydney. He and the boat’s crew had a ball in their Hawaiian shirts, and also kicked on as that breeze filled, with their kite propelling them to a win in the prized Spinnaker Division. The jury is out as to whether they had more fun than Newton’s son, Sam, who is one of the many Australians involved the America’s Cup. Newton, the younger, is on board Oracle Team USA with James Spithill and Tom Slingsby, and whilst Antipodes of Sydney did a lot of work to get their win, it is more than likely that those involved in the AC will have to put in a bit more if they are to emulate Antipodes success.

Sharp vigil - There will be wind somewhere. - 2017 Beneteau Pittwater Cup © John Curnow

Sharp vigil – There will be wind somewhere. – 2017 Beneteau Pittwater Cup © John Curnow

Richard Fleck’s, Scuffy, was in second place. It is so named for a tugboat character in a children’s book from Fleck’s earliest years. In the day it certainly was a case of the boat that could, and the entire crew were very chuffed with their efforts. Third place went to long time participant, Bob Batchelor and the crew of Beau Soleil.

In the Non-Spinnaker Division, Kevin Gray and the crew of Eau de Vie were thoroughly ecstatic with their win. Second place went to Bob Swan and the crew on Elusive Spirit, with the never say die crew on Elara claiming third. The latter simply love their sailing, as can be seen from the image taken at presentation, where the co-owners of Flagstaff Marine Graham Raspass and Micah Lane where handing over the trophies.

Graham Raspass and the entire Flagstaff Marine-Beneteau team received a huge round of applause from the entire gathering for putting on another well-run and enjoyable event. Shortly thereafter, the dance floor got packed, and even more gifts were handed out for the best moves. These added to all the ones awarded as lucky door prizes, and skipper’s only awards.

Raspass commented, “It was fantastic to have friendly competition between those boats coming up from Sydney for their first foray into the vagaries of the wind on Pittwater, and the long-standing Beneteau owners who return each year from both here and also places like Gosford. Quite a few of them have done every single regatta we have run here.”

“So every year we have three to five new boat owners getting the chance to participate for the first time, and that is wonderful. It is great for them to have a race, and do so as part of such a cohesive and friendly environment. That initial taste and excitement often leads them on to exploring the full potential of their boats.”

Spinnakers around Lion Island for the leaders… - 2017 Beneteau Pittwater Cup © John Curnow

Spinnakers around Lion Island for the leaders… – 2017 Beneteau Pittwater Cup © John Curnow

“It was great that such a large fleet of Beneteaus was able to get around the entire course. Well done to all our owners for making the commitment to being here. It is good to have them enjoying themselves and also pleasing that they comment about how much they have got from participating.”

“The idea of providing the chance for fellow Beneteau owners to all congregate and enjoy the camaraderie the family owned brand is synonymous with is wonderful. I particularly like how we can have not only similar boats competing directly against each other, but also boats both new and old, ranging from one month old to 20 years young, and sizes ranging from 23 to 50 feet, as well. The smallest boat in the fleet, Mini Bateau a First 235, had their first race today, and also collected a prize. Funnily enough, it was the inflatable paddle board from Lejen Marine, and is not that much shorter overall than their boat!”

“All of this says a lot about the pedigree of Beneteau, which is now 140 years old. It is also a great way for us to thank all of our owners. See you all for the 2017 Beneteau Cup on Sydney Harbour on October 27”, was how Raspass ended. If you want to join the Beneteau clan, then please see www.flagstaffmarine.com.au, call Graham or Micah on 02 9327 2088, or see the team at either their Newport or Rushcutters Bay office.

by John Curnow

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