Cabbage Tree Island race report

'Exciting and exhilarating' is how Squadron Member Josh Chant describes his first overnight offshore race as navigator on board 'Solutions'. He writes: 

The Cabbage Tree race was popular this year as it is one of the main qualifier races for the 75th Sydney to Hobart. 67 boats entered, of which 58 lined up on the start line but by the time we reached Sydney Heads the fleet had already been cut dramatically.

The start was  originally scheduled for 1900hrs but thanks to the sunset departure of a cruise liner, we eventually got away at 1920hrs. With dusk now upon us and gusting to 35knots, it was a tricky and challenging ride out of the harbour. We had a quick broach but quickly found our feet and with a small fractional chute up, we stormed our way to North head.

With a few gusts into the higher 30s, we pulled down our kite and ran out under jib and reefed main.
Another quick gybe and we were square running under poled out jib straight down the rhumb line to Cabbage Tree Island. It was a beautiful night sailing with a three quarter moon and small following sea to drive us along.


Unfortunately at about 0430hrs, as we were on our final approach to Fingal Head and Cabbage Tree, the moon set and some cloud cover came over blocking out the stars, leaving us quite in the dark as we waited for sun up. Normally this isn’t much of an issue, but it was this time, thanks to our modern day reliance on technology, as we found ourselves without AIS coming through to the chart plotter. Suffice to say we kept a very careful watch out and as we crossed the mouth of Port Stephens, the pre-dawn sky started to lighten, and we made our way around Cabbage Tree Island.

It was a long slog upwind to get us back to Sydney, and our goal was simple: to get back as quickly as possible in anticipation of the anticipated shift to the south. The breeze was still blowing steadily from the SW at 20-25knots at this time.

We did our single tack for Sydney at approximately 1500hrs for what turned out to be an easy lay into Sydney Harbour. While our strategy to get south quickly wasn't a bad one, we carried on too far and over laid. We certainly could have afforded to have the bow down and travelling a bit faster once we finally tacked onto port too. This saw us getting inshore a bit later than planned and we landed right into the small trough that had moved offshore, parking us in no wind for two hours, just five miles off North Head.

A westerly finally arrived at 2000hrs and we sailed in and crossed the finish line at 2300hrs, managing 21st across the line and 20th IRC.

Considering that only 35 odd boats finished, and the only gear failure we had was a bolt on one of the mainsail cars unthreaded itself, we are really happy with how we and the boat went and feel all the preparation for our campaign for this year’s Sydney to Hobart is going well.

Josh Chant

Success at Laser States

The NSW and ACT State Laser Championships were held at the Georges River Sailing Club from 8-9 November.

Fourteen Squadron (mostly Youth) sailors competed and achieved some fantastic results throughout the fleet. Competing on Botany Bay always presents a different set of challenges to sailing on Sydney Harbour, such as the occasional blast of wind from an accelerating A380 and some interesting tides...

Standing L to R: Marlena, Jack L, Campbell, Ian, Dan, Mark, Jack F, Ashton, Oliver, Mike ( coach ), Xavier, Kane, Finn.
Kneeling L to R: Annabelle, Brooke, Evie, Mina.

Day 1
Saturday's weather was close to perfect, with sun and generally steady wind, although it became lighter and more shifty as the day progressed. 

In the smaller fleet of 11 4.7s, Xavier McLachlan managed a perfect three races with three bullets, followed closely by the ever-threatening Kane Seblatnig.

RSYS made up 20% of a highly competitive fleet of 50 Radials and finished the day strongly with the top three spots and six in the top 10. Jack Littlechild led the fleet with two bullets, with Daniel Costandi and Marlena Berzins close behind.

Day 2
Our results were equally strong. In Radials, Jack continued his domination with great consistency and took out the regatta by two points over Daniel. RSYS attained six of the top 10 results. Marlena was the top finishing girl in Radials in 5th place.

In the 4.7s, Xavier, pictured top, tried a few experiments that didn’t quite work out and he finished the regatta in second place - a fantastic result; he will certainly learn from his day 2 experiences. 

Adult Squadron Member Matt Whitnall sailed in the Standard fleet of 30 boats and finished 12th overall - a great result in a very competitive field. However the crowning regatta honours must go to Campbell Patton, who won the Standard fleet with a fantastic result of five wins, and oh dear, he dropped a second place! 

All in all, our Club's team had a great weekend and supported each other well. Coaching by Mike Leigh and Finn Alexander was terrific and supportive throughout, and all our sailors worked well on their skills. This was a great preparatory event for Sail Sydney and the upcoming Melbourne regattas, including the Nationals, in early January.

As always, Georges River ran a great regatta off the beach - see above - and made our sailors feel welcome. 

Top photo by Jon West Photography
Article and other photos by Richard McLachlan

View full results here

Photos by Jon West Photography here

Tuesday Twilight alert

Due to the extreme weather due to hit Sydney later this afternoon, tonight’s Paspaley Tuesday twilight race has been abandoned. We strongly advise that all skippers and crews take the opportunity to ensure their boats are secure and then join us in a theory session in the CCA from  5.30pm. Dinner will be available in the CCA from 6.30pm and includes a prize draw (drawn out of the hat) for all of the attendees tonight.

Don’t forget this Thursday night we are celebrating just a few of our RSYS Champions from the Sayonara Cup, the Sailing League World Championships and the Etchells World Championship.  Please join us to hear first-hand from these very experienced RSYS Members about their extraordinary experiences.  Bookings are limited and close today at 5pm 

Please click here to book now

Sunday Twilights

Last Sunday’s twilight was again the pick of the week to be out on Sydney Harbour.  Fourteen boats were on the water taking advantage of the 10-12 knot south easterly breeze. 

It was a family affair on board two of the RSYS Elliots.  Brother and sister Lester and Natasha Miller had their regular Optimist sailing children crewing on board Elliott3, pictured above.  Father Stephen Wilson on board with son David and friends were tackling the asymmetrical spinnaker onboard Elliott 4.


Congratulations to Warwick Back on Yertle who won the spinnaker division this week.  The Yngling class sailors are using the Sunday Twilights to switch around crew positions on various boats and build confidence with more time on the water.  Pictured above is Amanda Hicks sailing Shining Star.  RSYS Club boats are available to members.  For more information contact Adam Tran via email at

In the non-spinnaker division, the fast finishing Assassin (Phil Cutts, top) ran down the fleet on the run home and crossed the finish line 20 seconds ahead of Solacious (Amy Gojnich) and Petty Cash (Geoff Barnum, above) a further 17 seconds back.

Thanks to our race officials Joyce Warn and Susan Wade for managing the fleet results.

The CCA is open for dinner following Sunday Twilights, and is a great way to finish off the weekend.   


Article and photos by Captain Karyn Gojnich


Celebrate our Club Champions!

2019 has been an extraordinary year for the Squadron.

Across multiple classes both nationally and overseas, our Members staged a world-beating charge to claim key sailing trophies including the Sailing Champions League in St Moritz, Switzerland, the Etchells World Championship in Corpus Cristi, USA and the Sayonara Cup contested in Hobart. 

These achievements deserve Members' attention and applause, and so we warmly invite you, your families and friends in sailing to celebrate at a dinner on Thursday 14 November. 

During the course of the evening, you will hear from:
Etchells World champions Iain Murray & Richard Allanson
Sayonara Cup victors Matt Whitnall and David Chapman 
Sailing League World Championship winners David Chapman, Charlotte Alexander, Finn Alexander and Zac Quinlan.


David Chapman, Finn Alexander, Charlotte Alexander, Zac Quinlan.  Iain Murray.   Gordon Ingate with David Chapman and Matt Whitnall

Event details
Date: Thursday 14 November
Time: 6.30 for 7pm
Venue: Carabella Room
Cost: $85 for 2 courses & wines



Milson Silver Goblets open for entries

The Sydney Etchells fleet is once again looking forward to hosting one of the marquee events on the annual Australian Etchells racing calendar from 18 to 22 November. On offer will be the historic Milson Silver Goblets.

Hosted by RSYS, the event comprises five twilight races, against the spectacular backdrop of Sydney Harbour. Competitors enjoy exceptional summer sailing conditions and the midweek reduced water traffic. 

The previous regatta was won by David Edwards' Iron Lotus: L to R Greg O'Shea (trim), Rupert Henry (Helm), Dave Edwards (main) Josh Chant.

25 entries are expected with the typical high standard of racing that the Etchells class provides, especially in the Sydney Fleet. The regatta will conclude with a prize giving dinner on Friday evening after racing.

Entries are open and the Notice of Race and Entry Forms are available via the RSYS website here
For more information, please contact the Fleet Captain Mike Tyquin or call 0422 381 151.

Photos by Kylie Wilson

ACT Optimist Championship

RSYS was well represented at the ACT States with nine sailors and their families traveling down to Canberra from 26-27 October.

Richard McLachlan writes: In Open fleet we had Connor Warner (in possibly his last Opti regatta), Benedict and Spencer McKay. Sterling McKay, Raphael McLachlan and Cate Atkinson competed in the Intermediate fleet and Edward Atkinson in Green fleet. Overall there were good sized fleets: 44 boats in Open, 28 in Intermediate and 20 in Green. 

It was a challenging weekend with gusts over 30 knots forcing the race committee to abandon racing on Saturday. Sunday was a busy day with five races being run for the series. It was demanding racing with the breeze direction randomly varying around 20 degrees, but also ranging from 12 knots to well over 20 knots at times. Courses were set short and mark roundings were always crowded. The significant changes in wind strengths kept our sailors alert to the conditions. A general observation would be that our young sailors did really well in the strong conditions but need to attack the start of each race with more confidence and gusto.

All of our RSYS sailors represented the club admirably. Congratulations to Edward in the Green fleet who was competing in his frst regatta and was exposed to pretty strong conditions out on the water.  

Cate led the boys, Raphael and Stirling, in Intermediates; though having finished 23, 24, and 25, they probably need to be a little less social on the water! Nevertheless Cate is to be commended for stopping to help Raphael when he spent some time bailing. 

In Opens, Connor finished the final race rounding the top mark in third place, showing us all what can be done when you get off the start line well in a big fleet. Benedict, pictured top, demonstrated his experience finishing overall 18th, with Connor and Spencer finishing 25th and 27th respectively. 

  Stirling, Edward, Cate

  Raffa, Spencer, Connor

Canberra is always a great bonding experience for the team and the dinner on Saturday night at the Kingston Hotel was a highlight (assisted this year with a certain rugby game to watch...) We were thrilled that super coach Club Captain Karyn Gojnich joined us for dinner; her vast experience and calm guidance with the Youth sailors throughout the weekend and on the water was greatly appreciated by all. 

As ever, the Championship regatta was very well run and the club facilities excellent. It is probably the best regatta in the calendar for watching the fleets. Big thanks to all the organisers who made it such a great weekend despite the Saturday cancellation. 

View results here   


AS honours Sailors of the Year

Congratulations to the three Squadron Members honoured at the Australian Sailing Awards on Friday night:

Will Ryan, with Mat Belcher - Male Sailor of the Year (pictured aboved)
Will Cooley, with Bec Hancock - Youth Sailor of the Year
Matt Allen - Offshore Sailor of the Year.

Fantastic results, well done all!

View the full list of winners here

Will Cooley with Bec Hancock                                                               Matt Allen


2019 Gascoigne Cup and Thelma Plate

The second race of the CYCA Short Ocean Racing Series was held on Saturday, writes John Maclurcan. Under a long standing arrangement with the CYCA, the RSYS ran the race, awarding the Gascoigne Cup to the winner on PHS for Division 1 and the Thelma Plate to Division 2. The race was also the first heat of the Perseverance Trophy, an event exclusive to those who enter at the RSYS for three offshore races spread through the season.

The weather forecast predicted westerly, shifting in both strength and direction, which is always a great challenge for the race officials. David Ross, Race Officer of the day, once again set a really good start line for the reach to the Heads. He cleverly angled it so that neither end was favoured and this was reflected in the spread of competitors along the line for both Division 1 and 2. Rob Ridley’s course was perfect with two good windward legs and two good squarish runs.
In Morag Bheag, as 'Tail-End Charlie' in a big fleet of 16 entrants in Division 1 and 21 in Division 2, I am unable to tell you much about what all of the fleet were doing though we observed a few Chinese gybes and broaches on the second run but I can tell you about our exciting race: A quick reach to the Heads and as soon as we pulled away around the junction buoy off Lady Bay, up went the bulletproof 2.2oz kite. The wind was gusting 20+ kts and was quite shy but Morag Bheag was able to carry the kite and  run to leeward but abeam of larger boats who were without kites. The mark was laid four miles east of North Head. The wind backed and most yachts by now had kites. The breeze also abated in typical westerly fashion. When it returned, it had a nor’west slant and as the southernmost yacht, we were last to get it, dropped astern and were last to the first mark. There was plenty of southerly set running too.  

On the wind with a full main and no 2. There were plenty of shifts for the beat back to the shore to a mark north east of Bluefish. I tried to play the shifts which is not a good idea in the heavy Morag Bheag but eventually we settled into a 25 kt lift on the port tack, overtaking one boat. The run back out was very square so I opted to pole out the No 2 and we ran comfortably at 7.5 kts on a nice straight course to the mark, allowing for the set. As I felt the breeze was strengthening, the crew prepared the No 3 headsail for the beat back in and were we glad we made the change. With a full main and No3, the beat back to Bluefish was exciting but arduous and Morag Bheag ploughed through the choppy sea. The wind was easily over 30 kts and after we passed the mark at Bluefish, we put a reef in the main. I had been hesitant to do so earlier, although it might have been prudent, simply because I did not want to take any risks flogging either the sail or the rig any more than necessary. I felt it was better to feather the boat in the gusts. We beat back through the Heads very comfortably and eased sheets slightly for the leg to the finish.

In a race that favoured the big boats, Samarkand from MHYC won the Gascoigne Cup and the Sydney 38 Shine On from the CYCA won the Thelma Plate. Of the Perseverance Fleet, Peter Williams' Erica was first. and Ian MacDiarmid on Hellrazer, pictured above, came 2nd in Division 2. On Morag Bheag we achieved a 5th in Division 2 and the Perseverance, and it was one of those results where 5th place felt like a million dollars. We had a ball in a most challenging and thrilling event although I detected that the boat gave a groan of relief when it reached its mooring.

View results here

Article by John Maclurcan

Photo of Hellrazer taken April 2019 by Paul Barbour.

J/70 Australian Championship

The J/70 Nationals hosted by the CYCA last weekend attracted nine boats including three from RSYS and two from Victoria.  

Conditions on Saturday were challenging with a very shifty westerly which at times gusted over 30 knots.  Exhilarating downwind rides were offset with the lottery of the top mark rounding that quite often saw positions change as the breeze literally rotated 360 degrees around the mark underneath Bradley's Head. Sailing on Sunday took place in a 10 to 12 knot sou'easter with much closer racing in the fleet. Reg Lord and the team on Juno showed their experience and won each race of the regatta to take out the 2019 Australian Championship title.

Competing in the fleet was RSYS Captain Karyn Gojnich who said afterwards: 'Sara Ladd and I took ownership of the Jackal during the week so we were pleased just to get out to the race course and finish each race.  Big thanks to Pete Lowndes and Ewa Lindelöf who joined us for the weekend.'

Ray Carless of Junior commented: 'The winds and harbour conditions were at times challenging but overall it was an excellent event with great sportsmanship, camaraderie and most of all, fun J/70 sailing.'  

RSYS Members Sara, Karyn, Pete and Ewa on The Jackal

If you're wondering what J/70 sailing is like, RSYS Member Michael Nash explained why he is a fan: 'The J/70 is a great boat for mixed sailing as the main is manageable for anyone and the spinnaker is not too powerful. Olga (Skatkova) said just yesterday that she was surprised she had no problems playing the spinnaker on Saturday. The future for sailing could be mixed sailing with both men and women skippers. The nice thing about the J/70 is that even though it is manageable for women and us small men, it is still a wild and exciting ride for anyone when the wind gets up. The other great thing is you can sail four up if you are bigger or five up if you aren’t, as the ideal weight is 320 to 340kgs. I like the J/70 because it is a light, nimble boat, easy to manage coming into and in the dock and a pleasure to sail as the helm is super light.'

The 2020 Nationals are scheduled to take place over Easter, hosted by Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron.  RSYS is currently hosting a J/70 Twilight series with racing on Thursdays 31 October and 7 November.  J/70s can also be seen racing in the RSYS Mini B regattas in the sports boat division.

J70 One Design                                 Skipper                     Club     R1    R2    R3    R4    R5    R6    Points
1    Juno (7071)                                  Reg Lord                  CYCA     1       1       1      1       1     -1       5
2    James (AUS007)                          Tim Ryan                 CYCA     2       3    -10      4       3      3     15
3    Jabberwocky (AUS1129)              Andrew Tompson     MHYC    3       4       2     -6       2      5     16
4    Maybe-J (1303)                            Peter Nash               RSYS    -7       5       3      2       5      6     21
5    Spike (AUS196)                            Tony Landgren         SYC       9      -9       4      3       6      2     24
6    Madness (1305)                            Paul Breslin             RSYS    -8       2       5      5       7      7     26
7    The Jackal (AUS1130)                  Karyn Gojnich          RSYS     5       7       7     -7       4      4     27
8    Jumpin’ Jack Flash (AUS1284)     Andy McIntyre         BYS        4       6       6      8       8    -8      32
9    Junior (AUS7082)                         Ray Carless             MHYC    6       8    -10      9       9      9      41


Pictured top - Madness, Paul Breslin
Photos by Beth Morley of, view more at

Next gen mast and sail systems

Bret Perry from Advanced Wing Systems will give a free talk on Wednesday 23 October about new soft wing technology.

Drawing on his experience with America’s Cup and Farr, he will break down the myths and misconceptions about soft wings and explain why they are the perfect alternative for racing and cruising alike.

Over the past five years Bret has been primarily focused on the R & D of the Advanced Wing Systems soft wing – the SRW. He will bring the K8 Sports boat (pictured above) to the Squadron to give you a close look at the system, and if the wind allows, hoist the SRW in the dock. Please make your way down to the Pond from 5pm to examine this fascinating new technology. Do book a table for dinner afterwards.


Event details
Date: Wednesday 23 October
Time: 6pm for 6.20pm start 
Venue: Carabella Room
Cost: There is no cost to attend the presentation, but please RSVP to assist with the setting up. Please make a reservation for dinner in the CCA.