SPORT - British yachtsman strikes winning note in Morna Cup

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<I>Jazz</I> win enhances prospects for Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

SPORT - British yachtsman strikes winning note in Morna Cup
SPORT — British yachtsman strikes winning note in Morna Cup

Well-known British yachtsman Chris Bull sailed his newest yacht, the canting keel Cookson 50 Jazz, to an impressive victory in the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s classic short ocean race, the Morna Cup.

In an indication of her Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race prospects, Jazz took both line and PHS handicap honours in the 20nm race from Sydney Harbour to a mark 4nm off Long Beach and return last Saturday.

The Morna Cup was the first race for Bull, a former commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, with the Cookson 50, which he recently bought from Sydney yachtsman Ray Roberts.

Previously named Evolution Racing, Jazz has had an impressive record over the past three seasons under the ownership of Ray Roberts. She placed second in IRC Division O to line honours winner Alfa Romeo in last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart.

Bull has raced several times in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, including sailing the chartered Sydney yacht Quest to second place overall in 2000 and competing with his own J145, Jazz, in 2008.

The winner of the Morna Cup is the yacht with the lowest corrected time of the combined Division 1 and Division 3 fleets, with Jazz taking the historic trophy from Cruising Yacht Club of Australia rear commodore Howard Piggott’s Beneteau First 40 Flying Cloud and Leslie Green’s Swan 60 Ginger.

The Morna Cup is one of three classic short ocean races conducted by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron over the summer, the sterling silver trophy being presented to the Squadron by the then commodore, Sir Alexander MacCormick in 1913 and named after his yacht Morna, later to become famous as a multi-line honours winner of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

In Saturday’s race, both divisions got away to clear starts in a 10-knot nor’easter that freshened to 15kts by the time the fleet had cleared the Heads.

"It’s a beautiful afternoon for a short ocean race, with a typical Sydney nor’easter, forecast to freshen during the afternoon," race officer David Reid reported from the committee vessel.

As forecast, the breeze freshened to 15kts as the fleet beat to windward up the coast, gusting to 20kts by the time the leaders, Ginger, Jazz and Merlin had turned the mark for the spinnaker run back to the Harbour.

Jazz showed outstanding downwind speed, overtaking Ginger, to cross the finish line in Watson’s Bay 2 minutes 50 seconds in front. On PHS corrected time, she won the Morna Cup by 2 minutes and 8 seconds.

Jazz did not enter the IRC division, sailed in conjunction with the Morna Cup and part of the CYCA’s Grant Thornton Short Ocean Pointscore, with Ginger winning the IRC division from Paul Clitheroe’s Beneteau 45 Balance, the recent winner of the Hempel Paints Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race. Flying Cloud placed third on IRC.

Ginger’s IRC win moves the Swan 60 into first place in the IRC division of the Grant Thornton Short Ocean Pointscore with eight points, ahead of Blackadder (Stephen Thomas) on 11 points and Flying Cloud on 12 points.

With Jazz a casual entry in the Morna Cup PHS division, Ginger also took first place in the PHS division of the Short Ocean Pointscore, with Flying Cloud second and Imagination (Robin & Annette Hawthorn) in third place.

The win has lifted Ginger to first overall in the series after five races, with five points. Jackpot (Ray Entwhistle) is second on seven points, Victoire (Darryl Hodgkinson) third with eight points.

Peter Campbell

Photo: Jazz, the Cookson 50, which previously raced as Evolution Racing, winner of Saturday’s prestigious Morna Cup short ocean race off Sydney.


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