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Chutzpah 38, Sydney 38s, Sunday, day three of racing, Festival of Sails 2016, Geelong © Craig Greenhill / Saltwater Images
Chutzpah 38, Sydney 38s, Sunday, day three of racing, Festival of Sails 2016, Geelong © Craig Greenhill / Saltwater Images

Morris Finance Australian Championship

The perennial Sydney 38 fleet is readying for its Morris Finance Australian Championship as part of the 175th anniversary Festival of Sails which overall will cater for more than 300 boats and around 3,000 sailors over the Australia Day long weekend starting January 26, 2018.

Three states are fielding entries for the national bout – South Australia, New South Wales and the host state of Victoria – a three-day maximum nine windward/leeward race series off Geelong’s vibrant waterfront. Thirty percent of the one design field are new owners.

“From an association point of view the fact we have representation from three states is fantastic, says Sydney 38 Australian class president Peter Byford, adding, “Victoria has been through lots of changes of 38 owners, but the core of the class is still together which is a positive, and a good point to start rebuilding from.”

South Australia has four active Sydney 38 crews and two of those will join their classmates on Geelong’s Corio Bay, sharing a course area with the International Etchells class.

David Knight’s White Knight left the Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia on Saturday morning and the delivery crew expect to arrive at Geelong on Tuesday, January 23. Knights’ team, aged between a high school student and himself the senior of the group at 69, have been with him for a while.

In terms of regatta goals the owner jokes, “We would like to finish among the first few and of course would prefer to come first, but it depends a little bit on the other boats.”

Knights added, “I like the Sydney 38s; we have four or five in South Australia and four racing regularly. It gives you another boat to match yourself against. If you get beaten there’s no excuse because all the boats are the same.”

FOS2015 Phoenix leads the S38 fleet © Teri Dodds

FOS2015 Phoenix leads the S38 fleet © Teri Dodds

Sydney 38s are moded for both one design and mixed fleet racing and several owners have been busy over the summer flying the flag at major inshore and offshore and events.

At the Australian Yachting Championships which wrapped up off Sandringham Yacht Club on Sunday January 21, 2018, several Sydney 38s contested division 2, the best placed of those Sierra Chainsaw (Mel, Andy and Pat Mollison) in seventh overall. Bruce Taylor’s Chutzpah38 was one off in eighth overall and Bob Schahinger’s South Australian 38 Clockwork finished in the second half of the division.

At the conclusion of the most recent Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Richard Williams’ Calibre placed first in ORCi division 3 and fifth in IRC division 3 IRC. Tony Levett’s TSA Management finished fourth in IRC division and sixth IRC overall and Ray Sweeney’s Mondo placed sixth in ORCi division 3.

Bruce Taylor finished eighth overall in the Rolex Sydney Hobart with this Caprice 40 called Chutzpah.

Two-time national champion Phoenix will be campaigned at the Morris Finance One Design Australian title by Brenton and Jen Carnell on behalf of the host Royal Geelong Yacht Club. Sierra Chainsaw is the inform 38, Taylor always mounts a quality challenge and others will be among the top scorers once racing commences on Friday at 1300hrs on course area A.

The class is not just about fierce one design racing. There’s plenty of camaraderie among the owners and crews who are looking forward to the traditional class dinner at the top deck of Deakin waterfront restaurant on the Saturday evening.

The long-range forecast shows Melbourne is in for high temperatures and light winds over the Australia Day long weekend and 3,000 sailors already in situ or making their way to Geelong are praying a cool change will blow through during competition.

The Rex Gorell presented Festival of Sails anniversary edition will be even more colourful with the city staging a second major event the same weekend, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race that will start and finish at the Geelong waterfront during the peak summer holiday period.

by Lisa Ratcliff

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