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2018 Beneteau Cup: 27 years young

by Flagstaff Marine 30 Oct 2018 22:58 UTC 26 October 2018
Flying Circus is skippered by Craig Boulton and was the winner of Division B on the day. Seen here getting away from the start. © Alex McKinnon Photography

The Beneteau Cup was the first of the manufacturer's regattas, and it started a trend that others followed. Flagstaff Marine held another of their popular regattas on Sydney Harbour last Friday, where sailing and socialising, breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with all things Beneteau are celebrated in grand style. The event was staged out of the newly renovated, and just reopened CYCA.

As usual, the crews enjoyed the Champagne and croissant breakfast, as simple matters like registration and studying of the Sailing Instructions took place. Also following in tradition, there were Beneteaus from 30 feet to 51 feet on display. They also ranged from as far back as 1985 in the case of Bob Swan's First 30.5, Elusive Spirit, to the super-new members of seventh generation of the famed Oceanis line - an Oceanis 51.1 (Arthur Lane and Bob Southerton's Wilde Rush) and 46.1 (David Boekemann's Bombolo).

These two were the ultra-quick First Line versions, and there was also a pair of the Oceanis 41.1s. One of the latter had the performance pack, and she's Stephen Smith's Freedom. So Freedom joined her newer and larger sisters in dominating the line honours results for both races.

There were long-standing owners, and new ones too, some of whom have really stepped into the fold majestically. Moondance would have to be a case in point, firstly re-setting the fashion stakes, and now creating their own new award for best dressed, which apart from them, also included the always happy crew on Holy Cow, who's gear is as distinctive as their Beneteau ownership is long.

Now the forecast leading up to the day was not looking promising for racing, with winds predicted to be between 25-30kts from the Sou'Sou'East. The day started overcast, and with winds of around 20 knots, but this did not deter anyone. The only alteration was to fold the Spinnaker Division into the A and B Divisions, which was done so happily.

Not for the first time in the event's history, the weather gods shined on the Beneteau Cup. The clouds cleared, the sun came out, and the winds ranged from 12 to 20 knots for the afternoon, and all of this provided for perfect sailing conditions. The first race for both divisions got away on time, and cleanly, into a Southerly breeze ranging 15-20 knots.

The race officer, Steve Kidson, selected Course One for both divisions. Div B went first to South Head, passing the safe water mark South East of Bradleys Head, then around Beashel Mark, back to Bradleys Head, and then to the start/finish line off Athol Bay. Div A also went to South Head, then onto Lady Bay, then back to South Head, before barrelling down the Harbour to the finish.

It seems that the competitors were enjoying the conditions and lunch too much, as both divisions were a little late to the start line for the second race of the day. Course Three had been chosen. Shortly before the start of the race the breeze had shifted more to the Sou'East. Both divisions were sent on their way to Clark Island, thence onto Bradleys Head. On passing around the safe water mark the two divisions went their separate ways. Div A went to the Lady Bay mark, then Shark Island, Fort Denison, and ultimately the finish. Alternatively, Div B went to Beashel Mark, then Bradleys Head, before heading to Fort Denison and then the finish, which was identified by a new Benteau Swift Trawler 35. Some mariners moving on from sailing are choosing.

Every one enjoyed the day's racing, with no reports of retirements or incidents. Under the Beneteau Handicap System, the overall results for the Zettex Div A fleet were first, Robert Blaschka's L'Oiseau, then Martin Davis' Panama, with Greg Newton's Antipodes of Sydney in third.

In the Slipstream Marine Div B fleet, the winner was Craig Bouton's Flying Circus, with Bob Swan's Elusive Spirit in second, and then Steven Mullie and Eric Bangma's Elara.

Of course it was interesting to watch the battle for line honours. Yes the new boats did well in Div A, but in third place was Howard Piggott's Flying Cloud. This is a First 40, which are no longer available, but you wonder if with the re-instatement of the product line under 30 feet, following on from the purchase of Seascape earlier in the year, that there may be some new larger Firsts to be available soon?

Yet it was in Div B that a tussle between an Oceanis 41.1 Performance and the standard version that was most interesting. Freedom, the 41.1P, had only been handed over last week, and this was hot on the heels of a few other recent deliveries, too. Yes the taller rig won the first race, but in the second, where the 41.1P had a bad start, the standard rigged boat finished in 45'57", and the taller rigged vessel came home in 45'58". Close stuff indeed.

The Beneteau Cup was awarded to David Boekemann this year. Flagstaff Marine Dealer Principal, Graham Raspass said of Boekemann, "He really epitomises the brand ethos. This new craft is his third Beneteau, so his long-term service to the brand is unimpeachable. He enters his boat enters boat in regattas all the way from Sydney to Hamilton Island, as well as both the Beneteau Cup here on Sydney Harbour, and our other one on Pittwater, which will next be held on May 11, 2019. David always uses his boat to its full potential, and absolutely adores it and maintains it so well."

Raspass went on to add, "It was a great day that went off really well. We had been concerned when it was looking like 25-30 knots, but in the end it was more like 15 to 22, in which all the craft revelled, as a result of their seaworthy and stable hull forms from renowned Naval Architects like Farr Yacht Design and Berret-Racoupeau. It is always good to see so many owners having a blast, irrespective of the age or size of the craft with the typical Beneteau joie de vivre at this, the largest event of its kind for production craft."

"Of course a day like this is not possible without the help of our supporters, Zettex, Boat Transport, Slipstream Marine, and the many donated prizes that we used throughout the night as awards and so forth. Moving forward, on Saturday May 11 we will be at Pittwater. The Pittwater Cup always attracts people from people up and down the coast including Sydney Harbour, Gosford, Port Stephens, Newcastle and Cronulla, so please join us for the day, or stay a while and enjoy your Beneteau in these magnificent surroundings."

"The new Clubhouse is all about a more comfortable and inviting experience for our Members and guests," CYCA CEO Karen Grega says.

"Since May 2017 the Club and its Members have been inconvenienced in various ways by the refurbishments of both the Clubhouse and the John Messenger Building, but hopefully now everyone will think it's all been worth it.

"We believe Members will have real pride in showing off their 'new' Clubhouse and be our greatest ambassador in growing our sailing membership."

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