On the weekend of 7-8th December Australian 5.5 Metres were all at sea competing on the iconic Palm Beach Circle for the first time for a couple of decades. The RPAYC event was a Pre-Worlds Practice Regatta and also to select the 5.5 Metre to represent Australia in the famous inter nation Scandinavian Gold Cup. The Gold Cup dates back to 1919 and has been competed in 5.5 Metres for nearly 70 years. RPAYC will be hosting the 5.5 Meter Gold Cup and World Championships from the 4th to the 13th January 2020.
Seven of RPAYC’s revived fleet of fourteen 5.5 Metres turned were towed out to be greeted by a 7-11kt ENE breeze with relatively choppy wave pattern. Like the actual Gold Cup to win selection you would have to win. The first boat to get 3 wins or win the 4th Race would be selected to sail for Australia. All the races were windward leeward, 6 legs with a distance of 6.6NM which is the minimum distance for the actual Gold Cup.
After an hour and a quarter of Race 1 John Bacon’s 2019 World Championship winning pre-1994 Evolution KuRingGai showed strong speed for a 25-year-old boat. Bacon narrowly took the gun ahead of the post 1993 Moderns; Martin Cross’s and Bob Stoddard’s Beta Crucis and Brothers Matt and Rob Crawford with Matt Visser in KuRingGai 2. There was only 13 seconds between the three boats. The rest of the Modern and older Evolution and Classic boats finished in age order with Jason Antill’s, Damian Macey’s, Tom Spithill’s and Larry Eastwood’s remarkable Baragoola from 1968 nearly embarrassing the two other Evolutions the MacPhails’ Black Magic and Chris Handcock’s beautifully restored Rhapsody.
The wind had declined for the 2nd Race and unexpectedly veered to slightly to the East. The Crawford Brothers showed their Australian Team experience to gradually pull out what proved an unassailable lead to take out the second race. As “there is no second” and needing a win Beta Crucis gybed well left on the final run but to no avail. Alpha Crucis helmed by America Cup legend Rob Brown took second ahead of Ku-Ring-Gai and Beta Crucis. The second third and forth boats finishing within 11 seconds of each other after 86 minutes of racing. With the win the Crawford brothers ensured there would need to be a 4th race to decide Gold Cup selection.