The Morna Cup is only a short ocean race compared to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, but the fine performance by AFR Midnight Rambler underlined the high standard of racing her crew have reached in their preparation for blue water classic.
AFR Midnight Rambler, owned by Ed Psaltis, Bob Thomas and Michael Bencsik, today power-sailed to victory in the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s historic Morna Cup, a short passage race from Watsons Bay to Long Reef and return.
The Ker 40 won the Morna Cup on PHS handicaps and also took out IRC honours, which is also part of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Greg Thornton Short Ocean Pointscore.
Sailed in a fresh 18-22 knot sou’-easter and a lumpy sea, AFR Midnight Rambler finished less than seven minutes astern of line honours winner Quest, Bob Steels’ TP52, and the former New Zealand yacht Upshot, an Elliott 52 skippered by Wayne Keavy.
The leeward/windward course gave the 35 boat fleet a fast spinnaker run north to the Long Reef rounding mark with the bigger boats powering away on the hard beat to windward back to Sydney Heads and the finish in Watsons Bay.
Quest led the fleet around the Long Reef mark from the well-sailed AFR Midnight Rambler, Upshot and David Forbes’ Merlin. On the beat back to the Heads, Upshot overtook the smaller AFR Midnight Rambler.
The Morna Cup, a sterling silver cup, was presented to the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in 1913 by former Commodore Sir Alexander MacCormick and named after his yacht.
The Cup is one of three annual short ocean races conducted by the RSYS each season and which form part of the CYCA’s Greg Thornton Short Ocean Pointscore.
AFR Midnight Rambler won the Morna Cup, decided on PHS handicaps, from Ceilah (Peter Williams and Cruz Control (David Cutcliffe). Under IRC scoring, AFR Midnight Rambler won from Victoire (Darryl Hodgkinson) and Quest.
CYCA results for the Greg Thornton SOPS were identical under IRC scoring but under PHS scoring, AFR Midnight Rambler won Division 1 from Cruz Control and Blackadder (Stephen Thomas) while Division 2 went to Limelight (Alan Husband) from Selkie (Chris Antico) and Alpha Carinae (Damien Baxter)
The IRC win has strengthened AFR Midnight Rambler lead in the Greg Thornton SOPS pointscore after five races so far this season. The Ker 40 has so far placed 2-2-2-8-1 for 15 points while equal second on 29 points are Merlin (5-3-5-3-4) and Quest (1-1-3-12-3).
Under PHS handicaps for Division 1, AFR Midnight Rambler is on 26 points one point ahead of Blackadder (Stephen Thomas) with Merlin (David Forbes) a close third on 31 points.