2018 ORCV Cock of the Bay Yacht Race preview

One of Melbourne's largest fleets sets sail on Boxing Day at 10.30am as the 77 strong Cock of The Bay departs Station Pier. Sometimes described as the 'peoples race' it's an all encompassing event that welcomes many levels of sailors – from the ocean hardened racers to the weekend warriors who just want to have a go.

2017 Cock of the Bay Start Drone by Lee Smallman Chirping Bird Wines

2017 Cock of the Bay Start Drone by Lee Smallman Chirping Bird Wines

The 34-nautical-mile course hugs the coastline from Port Melbourne to St Kilda and Sandringham before the fleet heads further out into Port Phillip Bay. The course gives onlookers spectacular views of the 77 strong fleet. There's some good vantage points all along Elwood around Brighton and Sandringham in particular with mild weather promised by the Bureau of Meteorology.

AMBITION by Bruno CocozzaAMBITION Photo by Bruno Cocozza

Divided into five divisions, from the top IRC racers, AMS racers, a PHS division and even a cruising division, the fleet also includes a double-handed division of two boats and even two multihulls this year. Among the larger boats that may benefit from the forecast 10-15 knot southerlies to contend for the coveted line honours is the recently arrived TP 52 Ambition of Chris Dare, sailed from Sandringham with a youthful crew. A professional sports consultant and a strong supporter of young sailors, Dare has only had this boat since October having bought it in New Zealand.

Dare has been out of keel boat racing for a while as he supported his son and daughter in their OTB pursuits in high performance programs. Daughter Alexandra (16) and son Lachlan (18) are both on board. “Alexandra has been really enjoying the boat and is learning about the navigation computer while Lachlan is really enjoying learning about keel boating from up the front, he sometimes steers as well,” said Dare.

Dare had been looking for about twelve months before finding this 2011 model that has been set up for ocean racing and previously competed in the Trans Pac where it finished second.
“The amazing thing about these boats is that they go faster than the wind when they’re reaching and even on the breeze will still do 9.2 – 9.3 knots.”

Dare holds the record for the old Rye course in this race from one of his previous boats Stratcorp 97 in 2002, so with a mix of young and experienced heads aboard he is keen to give it a real shove. “I really wanted to provide an opportunity for the kids from the high-performance programs to have somewhere to go that’s why we called the boat Ambition,” he said. Dare hopes to encourage other TP52s to Port Phillip Bay, as he now joins an elite group of TP52 Australian owners numbering approximately 14. 

Elsewhere in the Cock of the Bay handicap honours are important and hard to pick in a fleet this size but I would be keeping an eye on the Tasmanian boat Whistler. They are reported a being a very well sailed boat with an experienced crew who rate particularly well on IRC. Other boats with LOA to challenge include: Carpe Diem (Paul Commins) Beneteau First 50, along with sistership White Spirit (Cyrus Allen). Another dark horse is the semi-custom Reichel Pugh 49 Carrera S (Gerry Cantwell). Should the wind remain light nimble boats like the Melges 32 Envyus (Dennis Clark) may be in the running for handicap honours or a divisional win. However for the bulk of the fleet it's simply a great hit-out to enjoy the bay and recover from the excess of Christmas, so not all my fly spinnakers.

 

CARERRA S from Groupama Race New Caledonia

CARRERA S

 

Gusto by ORCVGUSTO

Notable among double-handed entries is Bruno Carreto's Under Capricorn a Borrensen 12 that is co-skippered by Brian Patterson. Back in 2010 Patterson set the record on the big yellow boat Gusto which powered down the bay in terrific northerly winds to set the record for the Cock of the Bay race. Brian Patterson and his Gusto crew took just 4 hours 40 minutes and 18 seconds to travel from Port Melbourne to the finish at Blairgowrie. Patterson has set a different challenge for himself this year sailing double handed on Under Capricorn a Borrensen 12, which he and owner Bruno Carreto are taking across Bass Strait to Devonport. However the race-winning Sunfast 3600 Maverick of Rod Smallman is the boat to challenge Under Capricorn, in the Double-Handed Division, especially off the wind.

In a race that has such large entries that record hasn’t been challenged for eight years and could be safe again given the light forecast - South to southeasterly about 10 knots increasing to 10 to 15 knots during the afternoon for Port Phillip.

The Cock of the Bay is also a shakedown and feeder race for the Melbourne to Hobart and 195nm Melbourne to Devonport races that start off Portsea on Wednesday 27 December. The Melbourne to Hobart fleet will tackle the 440-nautical-mile 'Westcoaster' course that will take crews across the west end of the infamous Bass Strait, threading the needle past the tidal waters around King Island then down the west coast on the edge of the Southern Ocean before turning east at the southern tip of Tasmania and arrival in Hobart.

See the following link for more details on the race: http://orcv.org.au/index.php/about-the-race-cob
For all ORCV information, please go to: www.orcv.org.au or www.facebook.com/OceanRacingClub

Kevin Green and Jennifer McGuigan

ORCV Media

2017 Cock of the Bay Finish Drone by Lee Smallman Chirping Bird Wines

2017 Cock of the Bay Finish Drone by Lee Smallman Chirping Bird Wines