This was no occasion to utter a word, let alone an expletive, as the two leading yachts in Division A of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s BMW Sydney Winter Series came down to the finish line on the Harbour today.
Total concentration was required by the crews of Occasional Coarse Language, skippered by Warwick Sherman, and Convergent, with James Murchison on the helm.
Total concentration was also needed on the CYCA Committee Boat to separate the yachts as they crossed the line. Fortunately, there were few other boats finishing around the same time.
Occasional Coarse Language and Convergent started at the same handicap start time, 11.17am. At the finish, Occasional Coarse Language crossed the line just one second in front of Convergent in the closest finish this year in the BMW Sydney Winter Series.
Occasional Coarse Language is a Bruce Farr-designed, New Zealand-built Cookson 39 ocean racing yacht, winner of the 2000 Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race.
Convergent was a casual entry for today's race, with third place, but second place points, going to last week's winner, Silent Night (George Challoner) with John Messenger's Sydney 38 One Design, Utopia, finishing fourth to take third place points.
The Committee Boat officials had a much busier time in Division H, in which the first seven boats crossed the finish line within 36 seconds. Front marker Hornblower, with Dexter Counsell on the helm in the absence of Peter Campbell, held the lead less than 200 metres from the finish, but could not trim the spinnaker because of a blown clip on the brace as the fleet came powering up from astern under kite as the wind swung to the south-east.
In the end, Riff Raff (Paul and Susie Haas) slipped across the line 25 seconds in front of Sea Rug Hoo Ha (Peter Howes), with just 11 seconds separating the next five boats in Division H - Millshot, Phoebe Celeste, Tickalara, Workrite Systems and Hornblower - in a blanket finish.
In contrast to these two close finishes was the runaway victory of the veteran Farr 40, Nadia IV, skippered by Canberra-based Teki Dalton, in Division C. Nadia IV scored its second successive win beating Henry Kendall Akubra (Patrick Wilde) by a huge 24 minutes 13 seconds, a close third being Lipstick on Your Collar (Phillip Harvey).
CYCA Commodore Hans Sommer maintained his overall lead in Division C with his Cavalier 350 SL, Sommer Breeze, by finishing fourth, one place ahead of nearest rival Urban Guerilla (Chris Bowling).
Today was yet another relatively warm and relatively sunny day on Sydney Harbour (just a few clouds) with a 5 to 10 knot breeze that swung from the north-west to south-west and finally to the south-east before dying away.
The Race Committee flew the shortened course signals for all but Divisions G and J, with some confusion in Division G as only nine yachts completed the course and 17 boats record as DNF, some apparently thinking the course had been shortened for their divisions.
Among the non-finishers in Division G was overall pointscore leader, Chris Rodowicz' J24, Jayded, while another J24, David West's Hard-On, scored its second win of the Winter Series in beating Spider (Mick Austin) and Sayonara (Greg Maughan).
Racing was close in Division B, with Elusive (Kevan Hoare) getting the gun by just over a minute from two casual entries, Kidnapped, skippered by CYCA Past Commodore Peter Bush), and Integrity (Andrew Stoeckel).
In Division D, front marker Agent 88 (Peter and Pauline Redmond) took advantage of the fresher morning breeze to score their second win of the Winter Series, holding off a challenge by Invader (W.Buchan and C.Hunter), third going to Naughty Call (M.Blaxewll) and G.Hunter).
Another second winner was 3 Carats (John Santifort) in Division E, closing up the pointscore status with Hill PDA Bullett (Martin and Lisa Hill) second and Maximum Nuisance (Michael Grout) third. Enticer (Michael Emms) did well to finish fourth after a pre-start collision with a yacht from another division.
The non-spinnaker Division J sailed the full course, with Stormy Petrel (Kevin O'Shea) scoring its first win of the Series, beating Bagdad Café (D.Doyle and L. Smith) by a comfortable two minutes, third place going to overall pointscore leader Anna (Bob Gillies).
Only two more races remain to be sailed in the BMW Sydney Winter Series, with the other pointscore results wide open in each of the eight division.