SPORT - Balance takes Gascoigne Cup
Decisive win seals favouritism for Gosford to Lord Howe Island race
Television financial commentator, Paul Clitheroe, got an excellent dividend last Saturday when his Beneteau 45 Balance won the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s (RSYS) prestigious Gascoigne Cup, the 102nd running of this historic annual short ocean race.
The corrected-time victory, decided under the PHS handicaps of the combined Division 1 and 3 fleets, is also a good omen for Clitheroe’s next challenge, the category one ocean race across the Tasman Sea from Gosford to Lord Howe Island, which starts from Broken Bay on Saturday.
Despite a "cracking thunderstorm" — as RSYS race officials described it — that turned winds from north to south, all but three of the 37 starters completed the Gascoigne Cup, sailed over a windward/leeward offshore race, starting and finishing in Watsons Bay.
Unlike last year’s event, won by the J35 Limelight, the 2010 Gascoigne Cup top handicap results were dominated by Division 1 boats.
Balance joins a long list of prominent yachts that have won the Gascoigne Cup since James Fairfax’s Magic won the inaugural race in 1886.
The 102nd Cup was closely contested right from the start, with race officer David Reid forced to order a general recall for Division 1 at the first attempt.
On the second start, five boats were also over the line but all returned to re-start. "Division 3 were very well behaved," Reid reported as the fleet sailed through the Heads into a 12-knot nor’easter.
Line honours went to Leslie Green’s Swan 60 Ginger after a close duel round the windward/leeward course with Wot Eva, skippered by David Pescud and his Sailors with disABILITIES crew.
Next was Vamp, owned jointly by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) commodore Garry Linacre and former commodore David Fuller.
On corrected times, Clitheroe scored a decisive victory with Balance, which had previously competed with great success in Europe. Underlining Balance’s prospects for next Saturday’s Hempel Paints 36th Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race, she also finished a close second under IRC handicaps to Victoire (Darryl Hodgkinson).
Clitheroe prides his "corinthian" approach to ocean racing and having a long-term regular crew. This is certainly paying dividends and will see the boat start favourite for IRC honours in the Lord Howe Island Race, the only annual category one ocean race in Australia outside of the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
In the Gascoigne Cup, Balance won from Imagination, Annette and Robin Hawthorn’s Beneteau First 44.7, which finished an excellent eighth overall in last year’s Sydney Hobart Race, third place going to the commodore’s boat, Vamp.
Victoire was fourth in Cup standings but took out first place in IRC results — which also counts for the CYCA’s Grant Thornton Short Ocean Pointscore — from Balance second and Imagination third.
— Peter Campbell
Photo: Balance racing to victory in the Gascoigne Cup.
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