Report on 2007 McGrath Upper Harbour Championship


2007 McGrath Upper Harbour Chps
2007 McGrath Upper Harbour Chps
David Price, Thursday, 9 November 2006

Report on the Dash For Cash and Championship Race

The 2007 McGrath Upper Harbour Championships

4th November hosted by Lane Cove 12ft Skiff Sailing Club

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The Dash for Cash


A fleet of 22 boats arrived from such clubs as the RPAYC, BYRA, DJSC, Avalon, Gosford, Greenwich, Hunters Hill and of course LC12'SSC to battle it out for a start from directly in front of the Lane Cove clubhouse out to the mouth of Lane Cove River - appropriately named  the "Dash For Cash".


As it is a "black flag" start, all boats had to be sure they were not over the start line in the last minute of the starting sequence. 1281 MADNESS, 1345 BAMBINO and 1336 CRUNCHIE where equal first over the line with 1318 HEROES & VILLIANS to leeward and behind but in clear air.


Being set in a very fickle part of the river with tide and breeze, the lead altered constantly. Soon after the start with the breeze turning, the fleet set spinnakers with the majority of the fleet being herded up into the moorings in the lee under Hunters Hill. BAMBINO being a local crew chose to stick with the middle of the river, attracting a number of pondering looks from the main herd.


Each stray gust was hungrily snapped up and by the elbow of the river, Heroes and Villains had managed a slight edge inside over Crunchie and Madness, with Bambino out wide.


Now working up to finish off Valencia St wharf, it was anyone's race. Heroes & Villains and Bambino took off on their own, whilst Madness and Crunchie battled it out close quarters along the Hunters Hill shoreline. The breeze had built to a steady 12kts and the water was lumpy with the last of the runout tide. The next seven boats were also fighting for a last minute breakthrough with Scooter, In Good Nick and Oasis crossing each other many times in the last 500m to the finish.


By the finish line on port tack, Heroes & Villains was heading for the boat end with Crunchie upwind at the pin end after managing to separate from Madness a few minutes earlier. The conditions provided for a terrific finish with Heroes & Villains Matthew and Robert Crawford from the RPAYC just 2 seconds in front of Crunchie Olivia Price and Oliver Jones from the DJSC. Madness arrived 8 seconds later in third place with Bambino crossing 12 seconds after in forth.


Amazingly, although it seemed to go much longer, this event was over in less than 15 minutes due to the intensity created by each crew recognising they had an equal chance of reaching that line first. It is truly a unique event and one that draws great passion from our young fleet of Flying Eleven sailors.


Results can be viewed at: /2007DashForCashResults



The Upper Harbour Championship



The main event got underway just after 2pm in a varying 8-12kts breeze from the south, with Heroes & Villains, Bambino and Scooter getting the best of the line at the committee boat end,  with the remainder of the fleet bunched up four deep underneath.


The leaders did not venture too far out on starboard into the waters north of Cockatoo Island before tacking back towards Clarkes Point and working up to the gutter off Hunters Hill Sailing Club. The breeze became patchy and the promise of up to 30kts appeared to become only a remote possibility now.


Heroes' established a good lead over the fleet with some clever seeking of the scattered bullets on offer. The fleet followed in their path but by the time they had reached the NE corner of Cockatoo Island and rounded the Cove St mark, it was all Heroes& Villains in pressure, leaving the others to decide if they should follow the right side or venture over to the left and try and jag something from the now teasing 3-8kt variable southerly breeze coming up from Iron Cove. Many a heart was strained trying to pick the shifts, some breaking when one side would seem to have nothing to work with whilst the other appearing solid. However, it would change sides many times on this work and all eventually had some of the good and some of the bad to even things out.


Kites were set around Snapper Island in a now more consistent breeze for the reach past Drummoyne Sailing Club and the long run down to the bottom mark off Wrights Point. Heores & Villains had established of big lead and it appeared they were home and hosed, working up through most of the remainder of the fleet still bunched up off Wolseley St wharf. But, as many of the locals know, a lot can happen up the river and you just never know what might change throughout the afternoon.


Sure enough, there were many variations in breeze intensity and direction on the work back to Snapper Isl. The gap had closed in on the leaders, with the majority of the fleet keeping their heads out of the boat and now quite close to each other.


From Snapper, the breeze did die off and stabilise for the remainder of the leg to Cove St and then to Onions Point under spinnakers again. Around this leeward mark, Heroes & Villains worked to maintain a now closing lead over local crew Bambino, with Ace, Scooter, Oasis and In Good Nick putting up a good fight. 1277 Adrenalin Declan Rohn and James Bloomfield from HHSC, their first time in the boat and on water, were also mixing it with the front runners and looking very strong amongst the more senior boats.


On the work back up to Cove St, Scooter had her jib drop down the forestay due to a lanyard failure at the mast and struggled to hold her position, eventually this costing Scott Cotton and Max Vos a couple of places. The run back to Onions Point for the fleet in the soft breeze did not bring about any further changes to the majority of the fleet positions, with the two leading boats H&V and Bambino enjoying a comfortable ride to the last mark. The exception to this was the new crew of Adrenalin who unfortunately had a swim and ended up wrecking what was turning out to be a magnificent effort first time on (and in) the water. That's not uncommon as we all know and well done nonetheless.


Once around the last mark, things heated up and the game was still on for better placings at the finish some 400m ahead. There were many two boat tousles on this last work which provided a great spectacle for the various spectator boats and the shore dwellers on Clarkes Point.


Robert and Matthew Crawford's Heroes & Villains crossed the line first, Ali Chapman & Alex Paton in Bambino in second place 26 seconds behind with Peter Kendall and Louise Barrow Halford in Ace third.

All in all, it was very close fleet racing with all boats except one finishing over the line within 11mins over the 1hr30min race.






Championship results can be viewed at: /2007UpperHarbourChpsResults





This one day event was reborn out of the frustration of seeing the 4 clubs (Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Greenwich and Abbotsford), 4 heat championship dying from lack of interest in a series run over the full season.


In 2001/2 and prior, from the scant records available, a race was held by each of the clubs, just as part of their normal race day and attracting between 6 and 8 boats. There was no final result presentation after the last race and no-one could find the trophy anyway.

In 2002/3, the same occurred again, the results didn't even appear in the press and, of course, there was no Association website for the event to show recognition of the "champion", Andrew Chapman in Mad Dog.

It was all a "non event"!


During the winter of 2003, Lane Cove suggested that the format of the event be changed to a one day, Association-recognised championship and to be a challenge between the main harbour and Pittwater boats against the smooth water river clubs. This was endorsed at a subsequent Association Meeting and the inaugural Upper Harbour Championship was programmed for November 2003.


To increase the profile, a local sponsor, McGrath Estate Agents Brent Courtney, was approached to assist in the funding. Brent got right behind the Lane Cove 12ft S.S.C. and, to avoid cries of "unfair" from those not used to racing through "Humbug", it was decided to hold a separate non-compulsory "Dash" race from the Lane Cove Clubhouse to the start line out in the main upper harbour area. An attractive and rewarding number of prizes for this separate fun event were offered to attract more interest.

The main Championship race starts and finishes outside the Lane Cove River and uses special courses, designed to give fair racing in any direction of wind, a problem wherever triangle racing is not always possible.

A perpetual trophy was struck, to be presented to the winning boat and to be held at the winner's club until the running of the next year's event. 1st, 2nd and 3rd in both Championship and in the uniquely devised handicap results, receive "keep" trophies for both skipper and crew.


Peter Moor kindly accepted the responsibility of Race Officer in the 2003/4 inaugural Championship and Jan Plain the following two seasons. This season, Alan Kenney who had worked with Jan on the previous events, took the mantel.


In the 2004/5 season, the first attempt in November had to be abandoned after the Dash event was completed and the Westerly reached over 25 knots in the gusts, with higher winds forecast. A second Dash and the main Championship for the season were completed in March, 2005.


Brent Courtney of McGrath Estate Agents Lane Cove is very committed to the ongoing support of this event and Lane Cove 12ft SSC is equally committed to ensuring its future success as a NSW Flying 11 Association supported Championship.



Other Links
 Link to RESULTS and PHOTOS page
 Article with photos in PDF printable version


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