John Bertrand helms Lou Abrahams Challenge to win SYC Sprint Series

Lou Abrahams Sydney 38 Challenge
A fleet of seven Sydney 38’s participated in the four race sprint series hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club last Saturday. The variable 15 knot wind strength together with 30 degree shifts and choppy seas provided a challenge for crews warming up for the State Championships to be held at Sandringham on the 16th and 17th of April.

The presence of John Bertrand, helming Lou Abraham’s Challenge in the absence of normal helmsman, Mark Bulka, generated a lot of interest and he did not let anyone down with Challenge winning the series with three wins and a second. However, on the short windward leeward courses racing was close, mark roundings tight and crew work tested.

Race 1 Yachts that started at the favoured pin end at the start lost out to those who went right and it was Chutzpah 38 (Bruce Taylor) leading the pack. However, he let everyone off the hook by rounding the wrong mark leaving Sierra Chainsaw (Andrew Mollison) to take the lead after the first lap. Sierra Chainsaw maintained her lead until the downwind leg to the finish when Challenge sailing aggressively surfed past to win by 9 seconds. 38 Degress South (John Chatham) had a good race to finish third.

Race 2 After an even start, it was Clockwork (Gordon Mather) who tacked under Challenge to take the lead at the weather mark. However, Challenge gybed onto to her air and was first to the leeward mark to go on to win comfortably from the fast finishing Chutzpah38 and Sierra Chainsaw.

Race 3 After a delay in the starting procedure due to an unstable wind cell overhead, it was Challenge starting at the Committee Boat and going right, which held off an overlapped Chutzpah 38 at the weather mark to lead the fleet. By gybing first to port, Challenge extended her lead with Chutzpah38 dropping back to fifth. With Sierra Chainsaw and Audacious (Greg Clinnick) going left, Challenge covered. However, it was no surprise to see Chutzpah38, on the far right of the fleet, recover, to take the lead and hold off Challenge to win by six seconds.

Race 4. The consistent and fast Sierra Chainsaw attacked the right side of the course and timed her starboard tack to perfection to lead after lap 1. However, on the final run, John Bertrand’s skill was on display as he sailed through Sierra’s lee to win by 20 seconds. Audacious had her best result of the day to finish third.

SERIES RESULTS

1. Challenge - Lou Abrahams 5 points
2. Sierra Chainsaw - Andrew Mollison 10 points
3. Chutzpah38 - Bruce Taylor 12 points
4. Audacious - Greg Clinnick 16 points
5. 38 Degrees South - John Chatham 18 points
6. Clockwork - Gordon Mather 23 points
7. Mille Sabords - Stephane Howarth 30 points

It was interesting to note that the elapsed time of each race was between 40 and 42 minutes. This is ideal for one design racing and ensures racing is close and exciting. It was terrific to have John Bertrand participate in the Sydney 38 racing and encouraging for the owner drivers preparing for the State Championships. Based on their performances the series will be close and the standard of the Victorian Sydney 38 fleet has certainly improved.