by Dom Wiseman

Bombolo won the Spinnaker Division of Flagstaff Marine’s 2019 Beneteau Pittwater Cup. David Boekmann’s still relatively new Oceanis 46.1 First Line flyer looked marvellous screaming around the course to Lion Island and back, with her black North Sails gleaming in the sun. They also melding in with the often gloomy skies that were there heralding in the brisk Sou’wester that had started out before racing as fresh to frightening, but ended up just right for swiftly migrating the entire 23 boat fleet around the track.

Had she not have won their Division, it would not have mattered, for the crew easily got the vote for largest contingent on board. This was totally apparent when the entire ‘football team’ swung the legs over the side as extra ballast for the reach back across Broken Bay from Lion Island to West Head. Good work, team!

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In second place was Matthew Graison’s First 50, Bullrush. This was the first ever race for the new owner, who had previously had a First 40.7 for just four weeks before realising he loved the Beneteau experience so much that he upgraded right there and then.

Colin McKeith’s Oceanis 48, Aeolus, may have been in stealth mode, somewhat, but they marched around the course swiftly, and collected third place for their efforts. The one time they ‘appeared’, as such, was a genuine ‘Kodak moment’, when the sun, the clouds, and their position relative to the lighthouse atop Barrenjoey Head all conspired to give a lasting memory.

Shaw Russett’s very identifiable, Tailwind, won the larger, Non-Spinnaker Division, which had 17 entrants. It would be hard to say whether it is the massive backstay flag, or the enthusiastic crew that is more distinctive, but perhaps the two just combine effortlessly to give an overall brilliant result, much like their one across the line.

As the event organisers were on board the impressively powerful Oceanis 51.1, Wilde Rush, they very politely rescinded their second place, which meant it went to Rob Yeate’s First 40, Iago. In third was the irrepressible, and serial attendee at nearly all of the Beneteau Cups, Bob Swan and crew aboard, Elusive Spirit. Hailing from back in the middle 80s, his First 30.5 continues to do well, and this shows with the result. She may be the oldest out there that day, but there is still plenty on offer against her far newer rivals.

The Pittwater Cup has been running for 19 years now, and this was easily the most consistent breeze the fleet has ever had, as well as delivering the largest velocity. Trainspotters would have noted that the Race Officers, David West and Elaine Fowler, from the host, the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, did not have to move the Committee Boat from their original position just North of Scotland Island. Usually they have to shorten much further down Pittwater.

During the course of the Champagne Breakfast we were laughing about sending the fleet around the island twice, perhaps even reversing direction after the first lap. Indeed, being back ashore so early in the afternoon was not only unusual, but nearly unnerving – what to do with all that time? This was solved with many social gatherings on boats, and at the clubhouse. The host, as a whole, did an excellent job, and this certainly added to the reflections of the entire affair both quayside after the race, and also at the gala dinner and presentation.

The other early morning impression was that you knew this just had to be good. The annual Flagstaff Marine event had attracted vessels from as small as Josh Patterson’s First 23.5, Mini Bateau, to what was lovingly referred to as the ‘Mother Ship’. Nev Wittey’s Oceanis 55, L’Amour de ma vie had some super sailors on board, like Bruce Hollis, and this showed by them collecting the best-trimmed sails award.

Now they nearly also won the best crew shirt, as well. Had it not been for Steve Smith’s, Freedom, hitting the water with outlandish and distinctive dinner jackets, then the Nev and Janey’s bright blue Hawaiian shirts would have been a shoe in. As it was, Freedom’s jackets did help identify them from the other four Oceanis 41.1s that were out there. One of which was the yet to be named vessel that has only just been launched for Stephen and Lyn Coleman.

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Yes. It most certainly is a joyous time, and everyone is delighted to be there – it really shows from breakfast to racing, dinner to speeches. Co-owner of Flagstaff Marine, Graham Raspass, commented during the evening’s presentations that, “It was the perfect day for sailing a Beneteau, as they always relish a good breeze, are great upwind boats, and easily handled the swell around Lion Island.”

The next Beneteau Cup is on Sydney Harbour on October 25, 2019. So lock that in now. You get all the same fun, plus ferries and multitudinous pleasure craft all added in to make it something completely unique. Details can be found at flagstaffmarine.com.au, or alternatively you can call Graham Raspass, Micah Lane, or anyone of the Flagstaff crew on 1300 998 662 to talk boats, fun, and making the most of your craft.