Just 23 seconds and two points separated the two leading grand prix yachts in today’s final race for Division A of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s BMW Sydney Winter Series on Sydney Harbour.
In a tactical, match-racing finale to an outstanding series, Dick Cawse's Cawse/Lyons 46, Vanguard, won the prestigious Division A overall from Neill Whiston's Farr 40 One Design, Fruit Machine.
The two yachts had gone into the final race equal on points and while Fruit Machine finished just one position ahead of Vanguard with a 24th place today, Vanguard's 25th place gave her a better second drop race.
The final points were 501 for Vanguard, 499 for Fruit Machine, with Bob Steel's Nelson/Marek 46, Quest, placing 16th today to finish on 498 points.
Conditions were again ideal for the 143 boat fleet, a relatively warm and sunny winter's Sunday with a steady 15 knot south-westerly breeze that enabled race officials to set a full course for all eight divisions.
Many of the top placed yachts overall and in today's final race are heading north to Queensland waters in two weeks, racing in the CYCA's Sydney-Gold Coast Race and then on to the big regattas at Southport, Airlie Beach, Hayman Island and Hamilton Island.
The Gold Coast Race, starting on Saturday, July 28, has attracted an unexpectedly high 68 entries, including today's placegetters in Division A of the BMW Sydney Winter Series - Eureka (Hugh Treharne) and More Witchcraft (John Cameron) and Infinity II, skippered by CYCA Vice Commodore Martin James.
Today's final race for Division B produced major changes in the pointscore, with overall victory going to the powerful Beneteau, Big Kahuna, skippered by Dean Harrigan, which is also heading north.
Big Kahuna placed sixth to finish on 497 points, two clear of Stephen Ainsworth's Swan 48, Loki, whose second today lifted her from equal seventh to second on 495 points. Series leader until today, Sextant (Tony Lawton) slipped to third place on 493 points after a last race 12th and she is also subject to a protest by Sean Kirkjian, skipper of Lady Ann, currently fourth overall on 491 points.
Winner of the last race for Division B was Miss G Fuss Moment (Stephen Collibee) with Loki second and Sintara (Gordon Anderson) a close third.
CYCA Commodore Hans Sommer clinched victory in Division C with his Cavalier 350SL, Sommer Breeze, finishing a comfortable sixth today to end the Winter Series on 521 points, well clear of Spearhead (Rick Fielding) which placed second today to finish on 512 points, on a countback from the little Hick 30, Urban Guerilla (Chris Bowling) which also finished on 512 points.
Today's final race saw Cut Loose (Rob McConchie) win from Spearhead and Lipstick on Your Colour (Phillip Harvey).
In Division D, the Sienna Partnership's Northshore 38, Sienna, opened up her final pointscore to finish on 508 points, comfortably clear of Ian and Shane Guanaria's Farr 1020, Faarst Company, on 501 points, third overall going to Out of Sight (Matt Wilkinson and Sue Smith) on 494 points.
Today's race saw Reve (Kevin Whelan) lead all the way to win from Redeemer (Michael Phillips) and Stockade (Patrick Quinlan).
Michael Grout's Jutson 9.5, Maximum Nuisance, won a close fight for overall honours in Division E, finishing eighth today, just one place ahead of nearest rival, Martin and Lisa Hill's Bull 9000, Hill PDA Bullett. The final pointscore saw Maximum Nuisance on 524 points, Hill PDA Bullett on 520, third going to ASX Alpha Carinae on 518 points.
Maximum Nuisance, along with Urban Guerilla, is among the smallest yachts entered for the Sydney-Gold Coast Race.
The CYCA's CEO, Joe Goddard, took a day off to go sailing, skippering his J105, Jumpin Jack Flash, to its third win of the Winter Series in Division E, beating the Sydney 36, ASX Alpha Carinae (Trevor Jarrett) and the J35, The Bill, skippered by Daryl Hodgkinson.
Wellknown yacht chandler, Doug Sturrock, sailed his New Zealand-built Townsend 11-metre cruiser/racer, came from behind to win the Division G pointscore with a total of 501 points, just three points from the J24, Jayded (Chris Rodowizc) on 498, third overall going to Wild Blue Yonder, Terry Rhodes' Noelex 30.
Front marker, Panache (Ennis Kawchuk) capitalised on the fresh breeze to lead all the way in Division G today, beating Spider (Mick Austin) and Suraya (Carl Scriber).
Starting as backmarker at 11.38am, the Always Sailing School's Pittwater 30, Sirocco, could get no closer than ninth in the final race for Division H, but this was still close enough to win the overall pointscore with 525 points, second going to the Sailing School's other entrant, the converted Soling, Millshot, placed fourth today to finish on 520 points.
The Sonata 8, Workrite Systems (T.McGowan, S.Goldsmith and R.Zidarew) took third place with 510 points.
In today's final race, Norman Livermore's Tickalara won her third race of the BMW Sydney Winter Series, from Cocomo (Carl Braden) and Sea Hug Hoo Ha (Peter Howes).
Bob Gillies' Northerner 28, Anna, had the pointscore sewn up for the non-spinnaker Division J even before today's 12th race of the Winter Series, but she still managed a close fifth to finish with 535 points, four clear of Bagdad Café (D.Doyle/L.Smith) on 531 points, third overall going to Stormy Petrel (Kevin O'Shea) on 525 points.
Tui Too (Baron Robertson) won the final race, which may be his last with the yacht as it is on the market, second being Serendipity (Paul Patterson), third Sabbatical (Jeff and Keith Robertson).
While the BMW Sydney Winter Series pointscore is over, next Sunday will be the second Ladies Race of the winter, with spinnaker and non-spinnaker divisions.
Over the 12 pointscore races, more than 200 yachts have entered in what has been an ideal Sydney winter for sailing, albeit at times light and flukey, with fleets averaging between 150 and 160 boats out each Sunday.
In a remarkable handicapping result, the 12 races for eight handicap each Sunday of the 2001 BMW Sydney Winter Series saw 66 individual yachts entered for the pointscore win a first place trophy, plus several casual entries also winners.