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Challenge wins State Championships


Veteran sailor Lou Abrahams and his “Challenge” crew retained their Sydney 38 Victorian Title last weekend in a 7 race series hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club. Six boats entered for the series which was sailed in predominantly light and unseasonal warm conditions. Whilst the final results would suggest “Challenge” won comfortably, the racing was close and competitive throughout the fleet.

Photo from Steb Fisher

If there was one factor that gave “Challenge” an edge it was in starting. Lou’s helmsman, Scott Walton won most starts and with a short course race format, “Challenge” was usually well placed at the weather mark. With the wind struggling to exceed 10 knots, Lou also attributed his success to  maintaining  good boat speed,  good crew work, avoiding traffic and sailing in the pressure”. Whilst the left side of the course was generally more favourable, Peter Milne, Lou’s tactician, added that his job more difficult due to the variable conditions and boat placement was another key element.

However, the runner up in the series, “Audacious” owned by Greg Clinnick and Paul Holden,  provided the good news story of the regatta. Two years ago, when they were new to the class and entered in the championship for the first time, they came last in a fleet of 9. Last year they achieved a fifth and this year without winning a heat sailed a very consistent series to finish second, 2 points clear of the third place, “Sierra Chainsaw” sailed by Mollison family members.

Race 1.

It was “38 Degrees South” (John Chatham) sporting new sails which led the fleet for the first lap. However, the experienced crews of “Challenge” and “Cinquante” (being helmed by Thomas Quick in the absence of Ian Murray) were able to use their skills to be the first and second to finish in a race of approximately 45 minutes duration.

Race 2.

After a disappointing 5th place in race 1, it was “Sierra Chainsaw”, after starting on the pin and protected the left hand side of the course who led from start to finish followed by “Audacious” to hold off a fast finishing “Challenge” to the finish by 10 seconds.

Race 3

After a delayed start, the fleet was started in a fading breeze from the north. “Sierra Chainsaw’ again in clear air and protecting the left had another good win whilst “Challenge” and “Cinquante” were engaged in their own private dual. The consistent “Audacious” split this pair to finish 3rd crossing the finish line 6 seconds ahead of “Challenge”.

Race 4

“Challenge” enjoyed an uneventful race in clean air and had a runaway win leaving “Audacious” second, “Cinquante” third and “Clockwork” an unlucky fourth by the slender margins of 2 and 3 secondsrespectively. “Sierra Chainsaw” fell out of favour with the jury boat and as a result slipped back to 5th.  “Clockwork” owned by Gordon Mather and Frank McDermott, sailed an excellent race and were unfortunate to lose second place two boat lengths from the finish.

Race 5

After a delayed start, “Challenge”, with a very loose rig, won the start and crossed the fleet early to control the fleet from start to finish. “Audacious” hung on to beat “Sierra Chainsaw” across the finish line by 8 seconds with further 8 seconds to “Cinquante” fourth. A feature of the racing to date had been close finishes.

Race 6

With the wind again fading “ Challenge” had another good win from “Sierra Chainsaw” and “Audacious”. However, with the wind now a zepher, those still to finish were faced with a real problem. “Cinquante” on a port gybe was approaching the finish line at the committee boat end whilst “Clockwork” with no wind but momentum was drifting to the pin end. In typical support for the underdog, the crews who had already finished, gave a cheer for the crew of “Clockwork” who finally crossed the line just ahead of her more fancied rival.

Race 7

With the wind freshening from the south, it was a dilemma for the race officer to reset the buoys in order to get the final race started before the time limit had expired. To his credit the race was started within the time limit to complete the 7 race programme. “Cinquante” and “Challenge” engaged leaving “ Audacious”  and “Sierra Chainsaw” to decide their own fate in the series. With a major shift to the east, the race officer wisely chose to shorten the course with “Cinquante”  enjoying her first win of the series followed by “Challenge” and  “38 Degrees South” finishing third.

The series was sailed in good spirit and typical of One Design racing, the racing was close. The Sandringham Yacht Club was once again a great host for the regatta both on water and off. The standard of racing is improving and with a number of new owners being attracted to the class including Bruce Taylor of “Chutzpah fame”, the Victorian fleet is in good shape. Thanks to the many volunteers on the water for their time and providing the competitors with a quality event.

A presentation and barbeque was held on the deck of the new clubhouse to wrap up another successful championship.

Finally, many thanks to the regatta  sponsors Ronstan and Sierra Active Wear for their support.


1 Challenge               Lou Abrahams                                         13 points   1 3 4 1 1 1 2

2 Audacious              Greg Clinnick & Paul Holden                 20 points    4 2 3 2 2 3 4

3 Sierra Chainsaw     Mel  & Andrew Mollison                        22 points   5 1 1 5 3 2 5

4 Cinqante                 Thomas Quick                                         23 points   2 5 2 3 4 6 1

5 38 Degrees South   John Chatham                                          31 points   3 4 6 6 5 4 3

6 Clockwork              Gordon Mather /  Frank Mc Dermott      38 points   6 6 5 4 6 5 6

Rowan Simpson

Secretary, Southern Chapter

Sydney 38 Association