Cronulla this time of year is either windy or light

Very close racing at the finish line
Very close racing at the finish line

Last year was windy, this year was light, sunny and warm – great sailing !

The Macquart Marine Cronulla J24 Short Course Regatta was conducted in the clean clear waters of Bate Bay, Cronulla over the Queens Birthday long weekend 6-7 June, was a huge success again and enjoyed by 17 crews including three from interstate. Simon Grain and Hugo Ottaway from Victoria and with smiles and the odd ‘discussion’, Robin and Jim Townsend from Adelaide – well done guys !

This year there was a definite buzz about the club from a few days before, with excitement growing as the interstaters rolled in. With lots of help from the enthusiastic locals, boats were rigged, dropped in the water, and berthed on the club pontoon 3 shakes of a skippers tiller from the club bar. What a magic setting – drinks in the sunset and the promise of a great weekend to come.

Bucko, the nation’s most relaxed RO gave us the briefing on Saturday morning, how refreshing to hear some sensible race management outlined – there will be no protests ! Sort it out on the water.

With breezes between 0-5 the race committee did a fantastic job in achieving 3 races on the first day. With temps at 22 deg C, a glorious day of sailing was had and a following swell upwind, made interesting sailing for those not used to ocean sailing.

The first race was won by Local Legend, Dave McKay by 30 sec to Victorian Hugo Ottaway and Stephen Quigley a further 30 seconds behind. The short course format, with works no more than 800 metres ensuring close competition for all.

Second Race was won by Stephen Quigley in a dying breeze who picked the shifts and extended to win by some 3 minutes to Simon Grain of Victoria and local Cronulla Sailor Barry Ryan.

The third and last race for Day One was conducted after waiting for a 5 knot breeze to re-establish from the east and in a dying breeze Barry Ryan again showed his local knowledge to lead out by 30 seconds to Robin Townsend from South Australia and Hugo Ottaway in Brushetta IV from Sandringham Yacht Club.

Racing was completed for the first day with Barry Ryan in Pinot leading from Stephen Quigley and Dave McKay equal in second. The Day One BBQ was huge, these guys know how to be hospitable with a vengeance, great conversation between all competitors and lots of new friends being made with the visitors going into the night in preparation for day two. In fact many competitors further increased their preparation at local nite clubs just to make sure they were ready for the off in the morning.

Again the balmy winter conditions continued with a slight increase in wind strength experiencing 5-10 knots for the 4th race of the series. The ‘Mexicans’ (Victorians took both 1st and 2nd) with Simon Grain and Hugo Ottaway followed by the ever consistent Stephen Quigley coming in third.

A quick turn around by the race committee saw race 5 commence and the pattern of finishes becoming clearer Barry Ryan followed by Stephen Quigley and Hugo. This was undoubtedly the closest race of the series with the first 5 boats finishing within 40 seconds, the next 4 within 40 seconds and the next 6 within 30 seconds. Fantastic close racing 2 laps, over in 27 minutes and all boats finishing with 4 minutes !!!!!

Race 6 commenced under the black flag after 2 consecutive general recalls. Julie McKay on McKay Marine, Jared Macquart on Macquart Marine, Matthew Short on ShortFaced and Lia Darby on Starpac all broke the start and where disqualified from that race. Final result in a dying breeze was Simon Grain, the consistent Stephen Quigley and Barry Ryan in Third.

Race 7 proved to be the final race of the series in testing conditions and a breeze continuing to decrease. Simon Grain rose to the occasion with a 3rd bullet for the day followed again by Team Cini O’Bryan and StockCar.

Results were tallied back at the Cronulla Sailing Club as the sausages cooked and the drinks where poured. Another huge BBQ and drinks and drinks and …

The same Bucko, now the master of ceremonies and laughter, gave out the prizes and everyone got one, if you didn’t win one you got one given to you. What a good night.

Final results being:

  1. Team CiniO’Bryan    Stephen Quigley
  2. Pinot                       Barry Ryan
  3. Kaotic                     Simon Grain
  4. StockCar                 David McKay
  5. Bruschetta IV           Hugo Ottaway
  6. JCF Built Boudicca   Bryce Edwards
  7. McKay Marine          Julie McKay
  8. Witches Thimble       Robin Townsend
  9. Only a Journey          Max Sellers
  10.  ShortFaced              Mathew Short
  11. Vertigo                     Clinton Hood
  12. Starpac                    Lia Darby
  13. In the Mood              Marc Van Dinther
  14. Macquart Marine       Jared Macquart
  15. Jargon                      Tony Landers
  16. Slippery Fish             Mick Reynolds
  17. Katiki Katanga           Chris Merfield

Team Cini O’Bryans consistence throughout the series proved solid with a series score of 3, 1, 7, 3, 2, 2, 2 for a total of 13. Simon Grain, sailing Arthur Crother’s Kaotic (with the boss on board) went home with the wheelchair prize.

The complete results are on the Cronulla SC site, here

Plenty of great pics of the racing are also on this page, thanks very much Phil Rogers.

Once again the level of female participation is very encouraging, with three female skippers and many women amongst most of the crews.

The organisers and competitors would like to thank the sponsors of the event, Macquart Marine, Wet Tech Rigging, Ian Short Sails, Cronulla Marina, The Lapstone Hotel, Loaf Cafe Cronulla, OZ Jet Boating Sydney, PriceLine Cronulla and Secret Scent Aromatherapy. And a big thank you to the volunteers and members of Cronulla SC for making this great regatta possible. Thanks also to Fiona Campbell, Rob Croucher, Clinton Hood and Dave Mackay for hosting the visitors – it makes the trip all the more affordable and strengthens new and old bonds in the class.

Cronulla Sailing Club are looking forward to hosting the event next year, we will be aiming at 25 J24’s in 2016. Please remember to bring the entire range of sails, for you’ll never know what the day will bring you. I have to say the same thing I said last year – if you weren’t there, you missed a real goodie and you don’t want to miss that again.

So it seems ‘Mexico’ is to be invaded by the ‘Cronullans’ or is that the ‘Shire’. Whatever you like to call the friendly natives of Bate Bay, you should know that they are good, they’re getting better and they are coming to ‘Mexico’ in the deep south, for the Nationals are being held there on the 4th – 8th January. Quite possibly the classes first 30 boat regatta in many a long year. And quite a few are planning their assault on the NSW States in early November this year.
Story by Mick Reynolds and Simon Grain