After all the bluster, fury and precipitation of recent times around Sydney and New South Wales, there certainly was one big thank you to be proffered today.
Cloudless skies, something like 21˚C and then 8-12 knots from the West to Nor’west with the occasional 15 and also less than five knots made for perfect sailing on Pittwater.
Little wonder there were so many smiles on offer and they had not even seen or heard about the plethora of door prizes, raffle draws and just all-out gifts. The show bags available for collection on arrival, with everything from Sailing Instructions to bottles of wine may well have been a tell tale or harbinger of things to come, however. There is no doubt that the Queen of celebration had to be Jane Hird from Sirocco Blue. Recipient of a mere bottle of wine in a lucky dip draw and based on her enthusiastic leap and cheers, you were inclined to believe that she had indeed won the Saturday night lotto draw.
Such fervour was not only a delight to witness, it was also a fantastic way to highlight and underline the spirit of fun and friendship that the 20 boats and their 100+ crew brought to the regatta. Hird commented about it by saying, “I never win, so hearing Orange E02 read out was simply delightful! We really had a good time and will definitely be back again. It was quite an extraordinary race for we started really well, just about first over, and then all of a sudden we were behind everyone for most of the race and then just before the end we passed quite a few of our fellow competitors.”
Course for the day was to and around Lion Island and back to where it all began abeam of Scotland Island at the bottom of Pittwater. However, it was not a straight-line drag race per se. On the way up there was a laid mark at Mackerel Beach to leave to Starboard. From there it was which navigator got it right as boats went right, centre and left in an effort to make Lion Island and leave it to Port. Once there, you had to return to Mackerel Beach, to Port this time and thence on to a mark at Taylors Point, tuck in to Towlers Bay, before returning to a shortened finish line in the vicinity of the original start. That little tuck would be the undoing of at least four craft who went on to score DNF (Did Not Finish) for excluding that particular sector from their track.
David Boekman and his crew on Bombolo won the Spinnaker Division. Boekman said afterwards, “Beautiful conditions and they served us well, for this is our first win in the Vicsail Beneteau Pittwater Cup for the 10 years we have been competing in it. Thank you to the crew and really everybody associated with this great event. Praise the Lord, too! We’re coming back to defend this win next year, I tell you.”
Graham Raspass is the relatively new Principal of Vicsail Beneteau. Raspass commented about the day, “As the importer for Beneteau boats in NSW it was really fantastic to see 20 boats come out for the Pittwater Cup. A wonderful turnout and fabulous weather combined for terrific sailing and good times to be had by all.”
“It is part of the philosophy of Beneteau to get fellow owners together and have a sense of competiveness, often racing like minded souls and similar model boats. This means that it comes down to the crew and skipper as to how well they end up performing and that is exciting. This is just one of the events we put on exclusively for our Beneteau owners and part of the way we recognise and thank them for selecting Beneteau, a product we feel very proud to represent and are very passionate about.”
Raspass added, “The reason we race is that all of our boats, from the First, Oceanis or Sense ranges, are very capable craft and it is a chance to see them all performing on the water, first hand.”
“The Beneteau Owners Club is one of our latest initiatives and is an opportunity to again give something back to our very loyal owners, as well as add value to their ownership of this vessel and their next. It is all about deals and privileges to owners and you just have to go to the Beneteau Owners Club website, register your boat and then you’ll have access to all of the partner offerings.”
“It is also very important to acknowledge our sponsors in JL Lennard, KPMG, Mercedes-Benz of Sydney, Sydney City Marine, Club Marine and all our other prize providers and associates. Finally then, thank you to my wife and daughter for their great assistance today. Our Vicsail team have worked hard to deliver this great regatta. Micah Lane, Michael Coxon, Shane Crookshanks and Greg Larkings have all done so much to ensure this has been a very successful day”, said Raspass.
So the Vicsail Beneteau Pittwater Cup all began in 2001, and that makes this its 14th consecutive running from it’s home at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. Historically there have been 20-30 boats each year and 150 guests per regatta, so there is a significant critical mass in all of that. It did originally have the name, the Metal Mesh Cup and the trophies reflect that in their design. Interestingly, they were meant to be one-off awards and not the perpetual trophies they have become now.
Today’s event had the most wind on offer of all the times it has been run. It was often a little flukey and always presenting a challenge, which is why locals always say ‘never say never on Pittwater’. One man could well embody that very notion and is one of the main reasons the event exists at all today.
Ivor Burgess has done all 14 of this classic event on the three Beneteau’s he has owned in that time. Asked what the secret of today’s win was, Burgess said, “Well we had a very good crew on board with Jamie and Marita Wilmot part of that. We managed to pick the shifts correctly and having raced here earlier in the week in similar conditions we just knew that the Eastern shore was going to be favoured. This is what allowed us to do well and get away from the fleet. Sometimes you are lucky and today was one of those.”
Still Dangerous (Burgess’ Oceanis 45) always appears to be a happy craft and Burgess said of this, “There is no point in going sailing if you’re not going to have a great time. There is no reason for putting the money into it. For me, win, lose or whatever I go out to have a great day and that really is my mental attitude. The bottom line is just that, whether it is a Wednesday Twilight, Hamilton Island or a regatta such as this, and nothing is going to stuff it up. We love Beneteau the brand and the boats.”
So on that particular note, quite evidently there is a God, thank you very much. Now as it turns out, he’s French, loves sailing and also Beneteau boats. You can see why at vicsailsydney.com or call Graham Raspass and the team on 02 9327 2088.
by John Curnow.