The sun came down to shine on the weekend of the Pipe Opener in it’s 52nd year. Conditions were beautiful and light in the Derwent River on Saturday morning, not at all similar to Friday night’s race with fluctuating winds and large swells.
Co-hosted by the Derwent Sailing Squadron and Kettering Yacht Club today’s Duggan’s Concrete Cove Cup race was, for the first time, held at the Kettering Yacht Club and with the help of sponsor Ronald Young & Co. Builders, we saw quite possibly the largest turn out in the history of the three day race.
Friday night saw Brett Cooper’s Crusader take out line honours in both IRC and AMS in Division 1. The Melges 32 has been one to watch over the last few years and this year was no exception with the crew having 5 members under 18 years old. Indy Cooper at just 14 years old is no stranger to the racing world having been sailing from a young age, as has her sister Jorja Cooper, 16 who has, among other titles, competed in the 2019 SB20 Worlds in France and competed and placed first in the recent Fahan School Regatta. Other underage crew members include Charlie Goodfellow (17), Jack Allison (17) and Howard Tapping (17).
The other notable yacht that took out the IRC, AMS and PHS for Division 2 was Stewart Geeves Young 88 Footloose. For the first time in Pipe Opener history DSS has created a cruising division which included the ex-America’s Cup boat Gretel II, helmed by Steven Shield, which took out both line honours and PHS from the group.
DSS Vice Commodore Nick Connor was thrilled with the way Kettering Yacht Club’s first year hosting the three day race was going, saying that the new format being inclusive of cruising and family-friendly competitors has been a great success and will continue in the coming years.
“From a Derwent Sailing Squadron perspective, it’s a fantastic opportunity for all of our sailors to get down here to Kettering and support all the local businesses who put on a great show for us, we thank them.”
Saturday’s race got off to a rocky start with Division 4 being let off 5 minutes too early and causing the later Divisions to be postponed, however once the yachts got started we saw a fantastic turn out, with 37 boats overall competing in 15-25 knot North-easterly winds at it’s peak.
Two time World Champion Paul Burnell and major sponsor was enthusiastic about the Saturday race, commenting that, similar to Friday nights competition, it looked like it was going to be ‘tense, fierce but very fair.’ His Beneteau 45, Stella, raced a smooth course Friday night with Saturday faring even better for the crew.
Crusader (Div. 1 IRC 4th and AMS 6th on Saturday) wasn’t the only yacht to have crew members under the age of 18, with the majority of Jazz Player’s crew being between 18 - 23 years old and racing very well on Saturday afternoon placing 4th in Division 1 AMS and 6th in IRC.
Midnight Rambler, helmed by Ed Psaltis, features young locals Anne Stewart (18) and Daniel Matzolic (17) who joined the crew early 2019 and are training for their first Sydney to Hobart. The boat had a spectacular race Friday night but took out the competition on Saturday afternoon with a clean sweep.
Other mentionable boats were Richard Grant’s Cromarty Magellan that placed 2nd in Division 1 AMS and 3rd in PHS. Ian Johnston’s Zephyr was also a close competitor coming in at 5th in Division 1 AMS and 2nd in IRC.
Sunday’s weather looks to be on track for another clear day to end the weekends races.