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MC38 fleet set for one-design class at Sail Port Stephens

The McConaghy 38 class is gaining momentum and at this year’s Sail Port Stephens the current Australian fleet is set to compete in their own one design division, a first for the regatta.

Ginger and the Cone of Silence raced at Sail Port Stephens last year under IRC handicap. From the 11th – 13th this coming April the full Aussie fleet of five boats plus Kiwi-based Menace will contest a separate eight race series. The family fun regatta marks the final opportunity for the present batch of MC38 owners to sharpen their wits and skills before four new boats leave the factory early May bound for Sydney and their first-time owners who are all credentialed and highly regarded in sailing spheres. In anticipation of the class ‘freshers’ and the talent they will bring to the table, John Bacon, owner of the MC38 Dark Star based at Pittwater on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, has bedded down his year-long program and crew, and secured coach Traks Gordon. “We are on the full program and trying to get as much one design racing in this year as we can,” said Bacon. “Sail Port Stephens will be a great lead up to our peak, the class’ national championship at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and then the New Zealand tour we have committed to. “The fleet is growing to where we hoped it would. We want to do well in the class including regaining our national title won two years ago and lost to the Tasmanians on Voodoo Chile last time around. “I’ve always wanted to be part of Sail Port Stephens but until now work commitments have precluded us. The regatta has tons of potential,” added Bacon. “It’s an easy delivery from Sydney and we are looking forward to a great weekend.” McConaghy Boat’s Ellen Pragnell-Raasch says, “From a class point of view it’s great to be part of established events as well as having our stand-alone series. Sail Port Stephens a good option for us and so is Audi Hamilton Island Race Week where we aim to have 11 MC38s, and counting.” Some of the owners have sailed at Port Stephens previously and thoroughly enjoyed the regatta says Pragnell-Raasch. “It’s a good fit for the class,” she adds. The arrival of four new MC38s to Neville Crichton, Marcus Blackmore, Lang Walker and Robin Crawford, and a fifth overseas order from the Caribbean likely to end up joining the Australian circuit is going to shake up the establishment. The highly anticipated influx of teams doesn’t take away from the calibre of sailor already racing these high-performance full carbon-fibre machines. Leslie Green and his crew on the MC38 Ginger have years of experience both on the MC38 and in multiple other classes. Their plan is Port Stephens in April and rather than racing under IRC against boats built to the rating they’ll join their class comrades on an even one design platform, the reason these boats were conceived. Ginger’s bowman John Flannery, also a Farr 40 and big boat sailor, says, “I love sailing at Sail Port Stephens. It’s a fantastic venue for the 38s racing inside the bay on flat water and last year there was great breeze.

“It’s a well organised series and easy to be part of, we leave the marina at Peppers and we are practically on the course. There are great restaurants and plenty of entertainment outside of racing for those looking to enjoy themselves. “This year the 38s are racing each other for glory, the whole point of these boats,” Flannery adds. Sail Port Stephens is supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. Enter Sail Port Stephens online by 1700hrs, Tuesday April 1, 2014. - Lisa Ratcliff/Sail Port Stephens Media

MC38 fleet set for one-design class at Sail Port Stephens