Yachting News » Fleet » Balance and Ichi Ban Lead Grand Prix Charge for Sydney Harbour Regatta

Balance and Ichi Ban Lead Grand Prix Charge for Sydney Harbour Regatta

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Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s 2016 Sydney Harbour Regatta is just 10 days away and over 150 boat owners have pledged their support for the 11th running of the autumn event, among them some high profile names.

Winner of the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart and the 2015 Blue Water Pointscore, Paul Clitheroe and his Balance are on a winning streak, so will come to the Regatta, to be held over the weekend of 5-6 March, as the boat to beat in the Open Class (IRC and ORCi).

Clitheroe’s TP52 underlined her ability on the weekend, breaking the Sydney Newcastle race record and taking out every category in the race: line honours and overall wins under IRC, ORCi and PHS, leaving the crumbs for her opponents. 

However, Paul Clitheroe believes otherwise, with the likes of Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, the undisputed star performer at Airlie Beach Race Week and the CYCA Trophy in 2015. Allen owns the former Shogun V, which is highly regarded as the best regatta boat around. Add Ichi Ban’s impeccable crew work, and she will be almost impregnable. 

Ichi Ban powering downwind at Airlie Beach Race Week Andrea Francolini pic

“Ichi Ban is very fast downwind, and while we have a good boat, I can guarantee our crew work won’t bel flawless like Ichi Ban’s,” Clitheroe said with laughter.

“This is an excellent regatta and it will be challenging for us. Our program is set up around offshore racing, and I don’t believe we’ve done any short course racing since Sail Port Stephens last year,” said Clitheroe, adding they would find time to get a practice day in before the event.

“We’re really looking forward to the Sydney Harbour Regatta.  I’m looking forward to having a barbecue back at Middle Harbour after racing – instead of being on the ocean at night eating cardboard food,” he said.

“I don’t have high expectations. Win, lose or draw, we’ll be happy,” Clitheroe ended.

A third TP52, Koa, was purchased by Andy Kearnan and Peter Wrigley late last year. With some miles under their belts now, Koa should be competitive. Other major regatta winners in for the series, to be sailed on windward/leeward courses, include The Goat (Sebastian Bohm/Bruce Foye) and The Philosopher’s Club (Peter Sorensen).    

Balance is in prime form Andrea Francolini pic

New to the regatta is the NSW IRC Inter Club Challenge, for which Middle Harbour Yacht Club will naturally nominate a home team. Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club has shown its enthusiasm for the inaugural Challenge by nominating two teams and MHYC Commodore, John McCuaig, has invited the other clubs to submit teams. 

The VX-One class will once again hold its NSW Championship at the Sydney Harbour Regatta. Andrew York returns with Speedwagon to defend his title. Runner-up, Fred Kasparek, also returns from Canberra with his ‘Weapon of Choice’.

In all, the Regatta is open to 21 classes, many of them one-design, which will make for spectacular racing – and viewing, as they take over Sydney Harbour for the weekend.

For all information on the Sydney Harbour Regatta go to: www.shr.mhyc.com.au/

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