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Coutas on the harbour 2015 Gaffer's Day John Jeremy http://www.sasc.com.au
Coutas on the harbour 2015 Gaffer's Day John Jeremy http://www.sasc.com.au

Couta Trophy Series

Eclipsed rudder replaced in time for Couta Boat Nationals

When Jim Wilshire’s rudder came loose and went missing off his Couta Boat Eclipse, which was travelling east from Perth atop a delivery truck between Bordertown in South Australia and Horsham in Victoria, the owner’s shot at Couta Week and the class’ national championship hit a snag.

The Sorrento and Sydney fleets rallied to help Wilshire and Eclipse’s co-owner Allister Inglis, two other owners offering spare rudders and Couta Boat builder Tim Phillips supplying a standard blank rudder to be faired and shaped to suit, the option they went with.

“As soon as the trucking company realised the rudder had shaken loose they sent someone to drive back three hours and found the spot on the road where it came off, but couldn’t find it,” Wilshire said, adding, “the goodwill from the class has been fantastic.”

Wilshire is very much back in the game with a state-of-the-art rudder for his 1999 built Couta and on Wednesday October 4 the last of the 10-strong Victorian fleet arrived into Sydney on B-double-trucks, completing the fleet in time for a fully packed 10 day program.

Twenty-two Couta Boats from the traditional and modern-built eras will race on Sydney Harbour in the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club’s two-race Thistle Cup on Friday October 6 then on Saturday in the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club’s Muriel Trophy.

Sunday’s biennial Gaffer’s Day, another SASC event, will boast a 90-strong line up of sparkling mostly white hulls, timber decks and tillers, gleaming varnish and glorious gaff-rigs. The harbour race will feature a bolstered Couta class in town for next week’s national title on Pittwater plus special international guest Dorade, the Olin Stephens 1929 designed 52-footer from the USA. There may even be an Australian Prime Minister sailing his Couta Boat called Rob Roy.

Monday is a rest day then the Coutas will cruise in company past the impressive sandstone cliffs of North Head and onto Broken Bay for a relaxed Wednesday twilight organised by the Woody Point Yacht Club, mixed in with various midweek social gatherings.

Eclipse sailing on the Swan River © Supplied by Yacht Owner

Eclipse sailing on the Swan River © Supplied by Yacht Owner

Frivolities will end to some extent when the Couta Boat Association Nationals in conjunction with the Wattle Cup begin on Saturday October 14 from the Avalon Sailing Club, the first time the national title has been held outside the birthplace of the Couta Boat, Victoria and in particular the Mornington Peninsula.

NSW class president Larry Eastwood says: “The nationals will follow the traditional Wattle Cup format which includes windward/leewards on Saturday then Sunday’s very tricky passage race around both Lion Island and Scotland Island. The latter is a lottery and can throw the average punter way off if they aren’t paying attention.

“We’ve amended the sailing instructions this year so the Wattle Cup trophy will go to the handicap winner of the traditional Coutas, the original fishing boats or those built as replicas, rather than the five modern-built Coutas among the fleet.”

On the host club Eastwood added: “Avalon Sailing Club has been terrific with lots of good volunteer help, energy and enthusiasm, which makes or breaks these types of regattas.”

Separate to the Wattle Cup trophy is the CBA Nationals trophy sent up from the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club for the occasion. In all the years of the Australian title only Victorians teams have made it onto the trophy, providing plenty of motivation for the NSW fleet and two WA entries to play their hardest game.

Key dates:

Sydney Harbour Couta Trophy Series

• Friday 6 October – Thistle Cup, RPEYC, format 2 races
• Saturday 7 October – Muriel Trophy, SASC, format 1 race
• Sunday 8 October – Couta division of Gaffers Day, SASC, biennial event


• Saturday 14 October – CBA Nationals / Wattle Cup. ASC, format 3 windward/ leeward races
• Sunday 15 October – CBA Nationals / Wattle Cup. ASC, format 2 island passage races

Follow Couta Week and the Australian Championship via Facebook.

More information Couta Boat website.

by Lisa Ratcliff

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