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4 January 2005, 10:21 am
Risk in One Design Heaven Again
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2005 Strathfield Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race

The hard fought Sydney 38 One Design division provided the tightest racing in the 24th Strathfield Pittwater to Coffs Race. In a handicap fleet, boats gradually separate into waterline lengths and each boat is racing against boats that might be five or twenty miles in front or behind.
However in the Sydney 38 One Design fleets, the other guys just won't go away.

The tacticians in the early stages of the race either hugged the coast or went wide looking for pressure, or did a little of both like Geoff PAYNE and his son Chris PAYNE and did on Risk.

Last years Sydney 38 winners in the Strathfield Pittwater Coffs race, with one of Australian most experienced Sydney 38 sailors, John SHEEHAN calling tactics, they were always a boat to watch. Chris PAYNE tells the story:

'We did not have the greatest start, in fact we were probably third last Sydney 38 around the Palm Beach mark on Sunday afternoon. We went offshore looking for more pressure and that worked well for us. There was adverse current out there, so anytime the wind pressure dropped away we headed further inshore out of the current and we kept a steady pace.'

'At Seal Rocks, Cameron MILES and Steve ROBSON on Rush had a solid one-mile lead on the rest of the Sydney 38's and you could have almost thrown a spinnaker over us all. Chris Lobb's Uncensored, ourselves on Risk and the Bigger Picture were closest behind Rush. When the south easterly came in, it became a drag race. John kept saying to us, 'the boat that wins this race would be the one that works hardest. We have to concentrate on milking each wave.'

'So we did, we looked for every 0.1-knot, we tried to make sure we stayed on each wave we surfed for 50 metres more than the other guys. Initially we were in a line of three abreast behind Rush and we squeezed forward from the middle. Rush went seawards looking for pressure, but did not find it and when she gybed back, she was third and we were leading.'

'We kept pushing and pushing on every wave and behind us Conspiracy kept coming. Then The Bigger Picture seemed to engage Rush in a luffing duel and both boats lost a little ground. Our lead crept out to 500 metres, but then dropped to 200 metres as Conspiracy kept coming at us. Then about 10 miles from the finish, the southerly came in hard at about 24/25 knots. Somehow we held our 0.5 kite together and flat lined it to the finish.'

Behind them the Rush crew surged again and closed on Conspiracy. Trying to squeeze inside Conspiracy, outside Korfs Islet, Rush hit a bombora off the Islet and came to a dead stop. She managed to ease back and crossed third over the line. So for the second year in a row Risk won the division from Conspiracy.

Chris, Geoff's father said: 'I read what Bruce TAYLOR, the Chutzpah skipper said about his ocean record, (Chutzpah has won the Sydney 38 divsion in the last two Hobart races) and we are a little like him. We are only so so around the cans, but we seem to be OK at this ocean racing thing.'

The Payne's were being a little modest; they campaign hard all year and were second placed after the four windward leewards starting the Strathfield series.

Father and son's summation 'we like to think we are amongst the best of the Corinthian crews. And we certainly enjoy racing to Coffs Harbour.'

With two wins in two races, why not?

Rob Kothe
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