The Windcraft family spirit was buzzing as a fleet of 31 eager boat owners converged on the spectacular Pittwater in Sydney’s Norther Beaches to participate in a day of light-hearted racing and camaraderie. 

From rally veterans to first timers – such as Murray and Julie Sheer on Hanse 455 ‘Sheer Fun’ – they came from all over Sydney for this much-loved event where the common denominator is community over experience.   

After breakfast and a thorough briefing by Windcraft’s Ric Hawkins at the Royal Motor Yacht Club, boat owners jumped into action.  Hanse, Dehler and Moody brands competed in what turned out to be, two distinctively different races due to the weather of the day – a rather too light morning breeze but then a fabulous 15-18 knot nor’easter in the afternoon.

The morning “extras” race was relaxed with the light shifting breeze allowing plenty of time for banter and frivolity between competitors.  In fact, there was so little breeze that it took some boats a long time to even get across the start line… The fleet really worked to reach the mark and picking a good line was tricky in the conditions.

But Windcraft had their priorities straight and shortened the course to ensure everyone finished with plenty of time for lunch.  

Karyn Hawkett on Hanse 350 ‘La niche’ says, ‘I got to helm on the first race as I like steering in light breezes, though it was challenging to get over the start line.  We were lucky to find some pockets of pressure and popped out the other end and were very happy with how the boat went’.

It was a stunning sight to see 31 yachts moored at Hungry Beach surrounded by water and a natural bush setting in Broken Bay just out of Pittwater.  Windcraft staff delivered cold beer and champagne to each boat where the only thing to do was relax, eat and swim in a tempting 23 degrees – very warm for this time of year.  The current became so strong that those who took a dip hung on to ropes to remain close to their boat and even then, the drag was full on.

Mark and Janet Lamble packed their own picnic and had a lovely time with their crew and dog Connie the black Labrador who even got a ride to shore on an inflatable kayak.      

The afternoon Trophy Race, east up Broken Bay and south into Pittwater, was competitive and thrilling with boats starting in 5 separate size-based divisions with an outgoing tide, beating into a 10-12 knot breeze.

The fleet was so fast on the first upwind leg, it was a superb race to the Barrenjoey turning mark with all divisions jostling for position.  David Newton on Dehler 46 ‘Why Knot’ rounded first and managed to hold the lead until the finish. The entire fleet finished within 10 minutes of each other making for a competitive dash to the line.  

David says, ‘I came up from Port Hacking and it was a cracker day with great weather, great boats and great company.  Rounding the Barrenjoey mark and the run home was awesome! The boat had a freshly cleaned bottom – it was slippery and fast through the water and we won our division.  And then we won the main lucky door prize – an inflatable kayak and a Helly Hansen jacket that my wife loves – I couldn’t believe it’.

It was the 10th Windcraft rally for Mark and Janet Lamble – Hanse 445 ‘Koonya’.   Janet says, ‘we loved the second race and were involved in a challenging tacking duel with Ruffian and Sheer Fun on the leg to the Barrenjoey mark.  We managed to scrape around first and ultimately win our division – it was such fun’.

Lightening, thunder and rain threatened the tail end of the race but luckily everyone got back just in the nick of time to view mother nature’s spectacular light show from the warmth and comfort of the RMYC.

What a night!

180 owners, family and crew congregated in one room with a common goal – to celebrate the end of a fantastic day in spectacular style.  And that they did.

The evening kicked off with a moving speech by Anthony Bishop, owner of Windcraft Yachts, followed by a lively prize giving by Mary Bickley and Ric Hawkins – the crowd constantly erupting in supportive applause and humorous banter.

With the presentation and dinner over, it was time to dance the night away to a groovy live band – the Backbeat.  The room was literally heaving with Windcraft boat owners and their crew all swapping tables and telling stories about their experiences of the day.  It was a real time to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

Karyn from ‘La niche’ says, ‘as usual Windcraft organised a great event with phenomenal prizes. It was lovely to see the Windcraft crew buzzing around and extra special to see Anthony Bishop after everything he has been through – we love his messages.

Winners and Supporting Partners:      

Winner of the Windcraft Perpetual Trophy

Karen Hawkett and Brett Pearce on Hanse 350 ‘la niche’. As defending champions this couple pulled off another great win in the afternoon trophy race.

Extra’s Race – two divisions:

First across the line with extras were Charles and Sylvia Smith on Hanse 415 “Bling Bling’.

First across the line with no extras were Murray and Julie Sheer on their new Hanse 455 ‘Sheer Fun’.

Lots of other prizes were awarded to Trophy Race divisional winners and of course some “special mention” prizes.

Windcraft are very grateful to partner sponsors Helly Hansen and Club Marine and also thank the following local businesses for their generous support of the event.

The Cottage Point Inn
The Boathouse Group
The Royal Motor Yacht Club
Above and Beyond Boating
North Sails
Active Water Sports
The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club
IYT Logistics Pty Ltd
Cruising Helmsman

Closing note and pictures & video

Ric Hawkins says, ‘the quality of sailing across the board has lifted over the years. Hanse owners do tend to hang on to their boats for a long time and so they get to know them very well which really lifts the sailing performance”

And even first timers can have a win.  Murray and Julie on Hanse 455 ‘Sheer Fun’ say, ‘thank you to all at Windcraft for a fabulous rally last Saturday!  It was so exciting for ‘Sheer Fun’ to have a win. We enjoyed sharing boat stories with other yachties and look forward to many more’.     

As Content Writer for Windcraft for the past 12 months, this was my first rally and my first experience with the Windcraft community.  Sailing with Ric on Hanse 505 First Light was a dream – the racing was unusually relaxed with no shouting or running around. I spoke to so many people at the celebratory dinner and could feel the enthusiasm and excitement bubbling in the room.  Everyone had a unique story to tell. It was like a huge bunch of friends getting together for the same interest.

I look forward to covering the rally again next year!

Check out more great pictures of the day here