“Just like old times!” The Admiral’s Cup 50th Anniversary Regatta – Sydney 2017

  • Club
  • NEWS
  • By Ross Macdonald
  • 13 Dec 2017 17:30:27
R J Baker

Too Impetuous watches Kingurra struggle to stay on her feet


The CYCA and its members played a major role in the creation and staging of this unique event. David Salter reports

"Best regatta we’ve had for ages!” “Great to see all those wonderful old boats out racing again!” “When’s the next one?” Those were just a few typical remarks from sailors after the final race of the Admiral’s Cup Anniversary Regatta sailed on December 1, 2 and 3.

“The whole thing grew like Topsy”, says committee chairman David Champtaloup, CYCA member and owner of Caprice of Huon. “Initially, to mark the 50th anniversary of Australia’s first Admiral’s Cup victory, we thought of just holding a couple of informal races around the cans – and then enjoy a few drinks afterwards with old shipmates.

“Five months later that simple idea became a full-blown regatta. Yachts sailed to Sydney from interstate ports to join the fleet and sailors flew in from overseas just to be part of the celebrations.

“Many of Australia’s most famous boats and skippers wanted to be here. Old crews re-assembled and plenty of new sails and gear were bought just for the Regatta. Suddenly we had a major event to organize and conduct.”     

Springing from an informal suggestion by the Classic Yacht Association of Australia, the Regatta was a joint venture between the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. It attracted 21 entrants for a three-race series raced on Sydney Harbour and offshore.

The event had three co-patrons, each with special connections to the Admiral’s Cup: Syd Fischer, who competed eight times in his various Ragamuffins and captained the Australian team on six occasions; Gordon Ingate, skipper of Caprice of Huon for her incredible three-in-a-row wins in 1965; and Sir James Hardy, who contested the Cup in his own yachts and also as a helmsman on Impetuous during the Australian team victory in 1979.

Entry was open to any yacht that represented Australia in the Admiral’s Cup or had sailed in the selection trials. Among the famous offshore racers taking part were Caprice of Huon, the first Ragamuffin, Salacia II, Love & War, Mister Christian, Mercedes III and IV, Pacha and the original Wild Oats. In addition, Anitra V and Lorita Maria were invited to participate in recognition of their distinguished roles in the development of offshore yachting in Australia.

The task of assembling the fleet and ensuring that they complied with the safety regulations for offshore racing fell to CYCA member and Admiral’s Cup veteran Peter Shipway.

“To be frank, it looked like a bit of a shambles early on”, he recalls. “But as the weekend of racing drew nearer the blokes started to get their act together. In the end I reckon it was the prospect of some really good fun – and healthy competition – that made it all happen. It was just like old times.”

Weather conditions for the regatta could hardly have been better with a brisk Nor’easter for the opening Harbour race. Another solid Northerly arrived for the offshore return sprint to a mark laid two miles off Long Reef. (The CYCA provided race management for the offshore race, using the start/finish lines it had set for the Bird Island Race on the same day.) A typical Sydney Summer mixture of challenging breezes tested the fleet in the concluding Harbour race.

The racing was fair and spirited throughout, but a regrettable starting-line incident in Race #1 sadly put an end to Impetuous and Caprice of Huon’s regatta before it had begun.

The sight of traditional displacement yachts thundering down the Harbour under their huge symmetrical spinnakers stirred the souls of anyone familiar with the spirit of Australian sailing a generation ago. For one nostalgic moment Too Impetuous and Salacia II flew their bloopers – sails that can’t have been out of their bags for 20 years or more.

There were social occasions after each day of racing, the most formal of which was a welcome dinner at the RSYS. More than 260 guests attended, including the three co-patrons.

The surprise guest of honour at the dinner was the Admiral’s Cup itself, kindly lent to the regatta by Royal Ocean Racing Club and secretly flown out to the CYCA from London. The Cup was carried into the room by the sons of the skippers of the victorious yachts in 1967 – Balandra, Caprice of Huon and Mercedes III.


Race #1 – Harbour – Balandra Trophy

  1. Ragamuffin
  2. Love & War
  3. Lorita Maria

Race #2 – Offshore – Caprice of Huon Trophy

  1. Sagacious V
  2. Wild Oats
  3. Mercedes IV

Race #3 – Harbour – Mercedes III Trophy

  1. Uptown Girl
  2. Syonara
  3. Mister Christian


  1. Wild Oats
  2. Sagacious V
  3. Uptown Girl
  4. Ragamuffin
  5. Mercedes IV
  6. Fare Thee Well
  7. Mister Christian
  8. Syonara
  9. Salacia II
  10. Vittoria
  11. Love & War
  12. Lorita Maria
  13. Camille
  14. Too Impetuous
  15. Mercedes III
  16. Auric's Quest
  17. Anitra V
  18. Kingurra
  19. Pacha

 (Impetuous and Caprice of Huon were retirements)




Might and power: Pacha relives the magnificence of the big IOR yachts Image: Robert Baker

Might and power: Pacha relives the magnificence of the big IOR yachts

Going hard: Wild Rose reverted to her old Wild Oats name and won the regatta Image: John Jeremy

Going hard: Wild Rose reverted to her old Wild Oats name and won the regatta


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