Sydney today turned out for the biggest on-the-water Australia Day celebration since the 1988 bicentenary, but it was not a happy day for the owner and crew of the ocean racing maxi yacht, Nicorette.
The green-hulled 80 footer, owned and skipper by Ludde INGVALL, broke her mast less than half an hour into the 168th Australia Day Regatta short ocean race from Sydney Harbour to Botany Bay and return.
She was leading the 50-boat fleet about 1.5 nautical miles south of the Heads, beating to windward into a 12-15 knot southerly breeze when a rig fitting gave way, the towering mast crashing over the wide, broken in two places.
No one was injured, with Nicorette returning to port under motor. It has been a somewhat luckless summer for Nicorette. Following a major refit, she was forced to withdraw from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race after damaging her new innovative canting keel system. However, she was repaired in time to take line honours in the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race in early January, today's event being her first race since.
Nicorette's dismasting left George SNOW'S 79ft Brindabella to take line honours from the Volvo 60, Andrew ShortMarine (Andrew Short) and Infinity III (Martin JAMES).
Brindabella, arguably still Australia's best known ocean racing maxi yacht, gave owner George SNOW a triple treat in the ocean race to Botany Bay and return. The Jutson-designed 79-footer took line honours and first place on corrected time in both the IMS and IRC handicap divisions, missing out on winning the PHS Division just 1 minute 22 seconds to Cadenza (Gunner & Illi Tuisk).
Brindabella, having her first race since returning from contesting her 11th Sydney Hobart Race, the 21st for her owner, scored a comfortable line honours win in the 25 nautical mile race, finishing near the Regatta flagship, HMAS Canberra, after a three fast 3 hour 17 minute race in a 12-15 knot southerly breeze.
Brindabella took the IMS Division 1 from Howard de Torres' Nips N Tux, which placed third overall in the recent Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. She also won the strong IRC Division from two Cruising Yacht Club of Australia flag officers, Rear Commodore Martin James in Infinity III and Commodore John MESSENGER at the helm of Utopia.
In the 168th Australia Day Regatta on the Harbour, sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, two former CYCA Commodores, David KELLETT and David FULLER did well in Division 1. Kellett steered the 60-footer Sydney to take line honours, while Fuller won on corrected time with his recently acquired 42-footer Bashful.
The Harbour fleet of 80 boats, modern and classic yachts and modern and historical skiffs, provided a colourful focal point for Australia Day celebrations that have centred on this regatta for the past 168 years.
In Division 2, first place went to Senta (Terry and Julie CLARKE) while the Thunderbird class yacht, Tsoona (Glen ILIC) took line and handicap honours in Division 3. The strong Catalina production yacht class went to Sagacious (Peter MULLER) while in the Yngling class, shippshape,com.au (Hamish JARRETT) took the honours.
Some of Sydney's finest Classic yachts contested this division, with first place on line and handicap going to Phillip KINSELLA'S gaff-rigged 'couta boat, Sylvia, while champion sailor John WINNING took out the historical skiffs in Alruth, his beautiful replica of an early gunter-rigged 18-footer.
The Non-Spinnaker division is always a popular way to sail for many sailors whose families join them for the traditional Australia Day Regatta, with Jackie-Clare, skippered by Geoff DAVIDSON, finished first, handicap honours going to Sailability's Primary Wave.
In addition to the yachts in the harbour and ocean racing yachts, more than 300 dinghies, catamarans and smaller keelboats competed in satellite Australia Day regattas on New South Wales coastal waters from Lake Macquarie in the north to Lake Illawarra in the south and inland to Chipping Norton Lakes.
The fleet ranged from modern to classic yachts, Sydney Harbour 18 footers and historical skiffs. Phillip KINSELLA'S gaff-rigged 'couta boat, Sylvia, won the Classic Division, John WINNING'S Alruth took out the Historical Skiffs Division.
The yacht racing followed a surfski paddleton, the colourful ferry race and an Australia Day parade of boats of all shapes and sizes, including the restored square rigger James Craig. Later the in the afternoon, the James Craig joined other historic vessels in a Tall Ships Race.