The owner/skippers of the maxi yacht Brindabella and her smaller but fast rival, the 66-footer AAPT, gave Novocastrians an unprecedented close-up look two of Australia's fastest ocean racers under full sail yesterday.
After crossing the finish line in the 105 nautical mile Sydney-Cabbage Tree Island-Newcastle ocean race mid-afternoon Saturday, both boats carried their huge spinnakers into the Hunter River and Newcastle harbour, reaching before a 10-knot north-easterly seabreeze.
Line honours winner Brindabella, skippered by George SNOW, sailed alongside the city esplanade as far as The Basin before dropping the spinnaker, at times only 100 metres from quayside watchers.
Not to be outdone, AAPT (ex Grundig), with owner/skipper Sean LANGMAN on the helm, carried the spinnaker right into Throsby Basin, almost to the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club's marina and his own newly-developed business, Noakes Boatyard, Newcastle.
"We saw George carry his spinnaker into the Hunter River….so we had to do the same, even go one better,"
Langman said later as he and Snow swapped stories about the race over a beer in the large marquee erected especially for the visiting crews of the 30-plus yachts which competed in the Blue Water Pointscore race to Newcastle, via Cabbage Tree Island, and the 60 nautical mile passage race direct for Sydney to Newcastle.
Both races took much longer than anticipated by the organisers, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, assisted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club and Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club.
Brindabella did not cross the finish line off Nobby's Lighthouse until 3.04.07pm Saturday, taking more than 19 hours for the race that started from Sydney at 8pm Friday.
AAPT crossed 15 minutes later, with Ichi Ban (Matt Allen) taking another 35 minutes to finish. "We sailed a rhumbline course during Friday night whilst the others went wider,"
Langman added, "and we got murdered!"
Langman's crew include Australian Olympic sailor Chris NICHOLSON from Lake Macquarie.
"There's life yet in the old girl; we took line honours and set a race record - this is the first CYCA race over this course,"
said an elated George Snow.
Brindabella also holds the record for a conventional ballasted yacht in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (1999) and race records for the Bird Islet (1996), Sydney Wollongong (2000), Sydney Mooloolaba (1994) and Sydney Gold Coast (1999) ocean races conducted by the CYCA.
Skippers and crews praised the facilities at the newly developed Newcastle waterfront, with many owners showing interest in the changes to the city and waterside in recent years.
On corrected time, the Blue Water Pointscore (IMS) division went to the 40-footer Nips N Tux, skippered by Howard de Torres, from 2003 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race winner Quest (Bob Steel) and Ichi Ban (Matt Allen) recent winner of Sailing South Race Week in Tasmania and Skandia Geelong Week in Victoria.
Nips N Tux, which placed third overall in the 2003 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, also won the Cape Byron (IRC) and Tasman Series (PHS) division, provisionally moving the imported MX40 into top placing in all three pointscores, with just one long race to sail, the Sydney-Mooloolaba Race next month.
The first boats to finish in the 65 nautical mile Ocean Pointscore passage race from Sydney did not cross the line off Nobby's until early evening after beating to windward into the noréaster all the way up the coast.
Threading their way through 22 ships anchored off Newcastle, the Volvo 60, Nokia, skippered by Peter Sorensen, took line honours from Broomstick (Michael Cranitch) and Infinity III ( Martin James) with the smaller boats not finishing until late Saturday night.
Antipodes (Greg Newton) won the IMS Division on corrected time to provisionally clinch first place overall in this final OPS race of the summer. Amante (Dennis Cooper) placed second and Jacobina (Phillip Mellor) third. Sommerbreeze (Hans Sommer) was forced to retire with a sick crew member.
In the bigger IRC division, CYCA Rear Commodore Martin James sailed his Farr 65, Infinity III, to a 12 second win from Commodore John Messenger at the helm of his Sydney 38, Utopia, with About Time, Julian Farren-Price's Cookson 39, in third place.
Provisionally, Commodore Messenger has won the OPS summer series IRC division with Utopia, just one point ahead of About Time and Infinity III on equal points.
Colin and Gladys Woods won the PHS division with their brand new Beneteau First 47.7, Pretty Flyte II, with Nokia in second place and Cyrene III (Mike Selsby) third.
Official final pointscores for the Ocean Pointscore and progressive pointscore for the Blue Water Pointscore, Cape Bryon Series and Tasman Series will be announced on Monday.