10 November 2012
The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s Morna Cup is only a short ocean race compared to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, but the fine performance by AFR Midnight Rambler has underlined the high standard of racing her crew has reached in their preparation for blue water classic.
AFR Midnight Rambler, owned by Ed Psaltis, Bob Thomas and Michael Bencsik, on Saturday power-sailed to victory in the historic Morna Cup, a short passage race from Watsons Bay to Long Reef and return.
Psaltis is a member of the Squadron but races offshore with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia although, at times, enjoying a more social sail in the Squadron twilights.
AFR Midnight Rambler won the Morna Cup on PHS handicaps and also took out IRC honours, which is also part of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Short Ocean Pointscore.
The Morna Cup, a sterling silver cup, was presented to the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in 1913 by former Commodore Sir Alexander MacCormick and named after his yacht.
The Cup is one of three annual short ocean races conducted by the RSYS each season and which form part of the CYCA’s Short Ocean Pointscore.
Yachts entered for these races through the Squadron are also contesting the Perseverance Trophy Series, comprising the Gascoigne Cup, Morna Cup and the Gacoigne Cup.
AFR Midnight Rambler won the Morna Cup, decided on PHS handicaps, from RSYS boat Ceiladh (Peter Williams and Gabrielle Holles) and Cruz Control (David Cutcliffe). Under IRC scoring, AFR Midnight Rambler won from Victoire (Darryl Hodgkinson) and Quest.
The results placed Ceiladh, an Oceanis 50, as the topscoring boat among the Perseverance Cup entries, with another Squadron boat, Wine-Dark Sea (Peter Lowndes and Sarah Goddard-Jones) only 27 seconds back on corrected time. Limelight (Alan Husband) placed third with Ian MacDiarmid’s Hell Razor in fourth place and Tim and Edward Cox’s Minerva fifth.
Wine-Dark Sea, a Lyons 49, was topscoring Perseverance Trophy entry in the Gascoigne Cup and leads the series with a 1-2 score. Limelight has had 2-3 result, Minerva 3-5 and John Maclurcan’s Morag Bheag a 4-6 score.
The Morna Cup was sailed in a fresh 18-22 knot sou’-easter and a lumpy sea, with AFR Midnight Rambler, a Ker 40, finished less than seven minutes astern of line honours winner Quest, Bob Steels’ TP52, and the former New Zealand yacht Upshot, an Elliott 52 skippered by Wayne Keavy.
The leeward/windward course gave the 35 boat fleet a fast spinnaker run north to the Long Reef rounding mark with the bigger boats powering away on the hard beat to windward back to Sydney Heads and the finish in Watsons Bay.
Quest just led the fleet around the Long Reef mark from the well-sailed AFR Midnight Rambler, Upshot and David Forbes’ Merlin. On the beat back to the Heads, Upshot overtook the smaller AFR Midnight Rambler.
“We had a good race…almost beat Quest to the Long Reef mark,” co-owner Michael Bencsik said after the race. “The win was an important step as we change gears up in preparation for the Cabbage Tree Race next Friday and then the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.”