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The big end of town

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 18 Jul 22:00 UTC
Kialoa II: Third in Division One - Great Veterans Race 2021 © Andrea Francolini

Yep. That would be 60 to 100 in the old language. So that means feet, and whilst some will be 20-30 tons, quite a few will be double that or more. How come? Well it is because there will be three divisions for the inaugural Australian Maxi Championship that will be held ahead of this year's Sydney to Hobart race. There will be the 100s, the mini maxis, and then the cruiser/racers, many of whom are from yesteryear. What a show!

It will be comprised of the Cabbage Tree race, passage racing in the intervening days, and then culminate with the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on the Tuesday. Note that the C/R Div will not be doing SOLAS. Maritime have ruled that one out for now, but they will start in the Harbour and come back in about the same time as SOLAS finishes, so that everyone can mingle and mix together.

Well it's all rather terrific, and it is good to see it all fall into line with certain overseas scenarios. It will also offer additional incentives to come for the Hobart race, and or Pacific Cruising.

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore, Noel Cornish AM, said, "The Australian Maxi Championship will offer an enthralling week of racing this coming December, and will provide an opportunity for both spectators and online audiences to experience some of the world's greatest yachts competing over three different formats: blue water, passage and harbour racing.

"We anticipate a strong line up of entrants across all three divisions, and hope to see many of the interstate and international teams that will be competing in the Rolex Sydney Hobart join us for the Championship."

"The CYCA is thrilled to be involved with the event as its host for the inaugural year, and looks forward to working with Australian Sailing to create a series that will no doubt become a highlight of the sporting calendar."

Given that the Gold Coast race has been postponed, and the other feeder events to get boats up to the Whitsundays for IRC Championships will likely have smaller fleets, even if the Victorians escape lockdown first, as is likely, now more than ever a bright kind of star is required.

David Griffith, the owner of the J/V62 Whisper, looked to how it will inspire the younger bracket of sailors to be involved in it all. "This will encourage more boats to do Hobart, especially from overseas, when all of that is possible again. It will increase the buzz, increase the use, and increase the fun. A lot of Aussies have been buying high quality boats, and rebirthing them, such as URM, and Stefan. We are getting a good fleet of them, and Sydney is well suited with the deep water required to cater for the 7m draft of some these vessels. I'm just keen to see it all come to pass.

"December's a bit further away from the current Covid crisis: let's hope vaccination takes off, as it is great to have this to look forward to, seeing as we're out of luck at the moment. There is a lot of interest about it all, due to so many things being cancelled."

In closing Griffith said, "The smaller boats are just as important, but it is easy for people to get attracted to the sport by the larger craft. There are not many places in the world where the boats are enclosed like they are, here in the Harbour. The finish at the Opera House says it all."

Grant Wharington, one of the owners of the Botin 80, Stefan, said, "We're excited about it. Everyone rocks up to the Hobart, and it has been an effort to then just appear for the one inshore race. If we have everyone there for training, why not race? Offering up more offshore races ahead of the great race is such a good thing."

"We have all done nothing for 12-18 months, so having this regatta will mean it is a real bonus ahead of making a charge at the big one. Hopefully everyone else will be sorted, such as Black Jack with a new mast. Bring it on."

The President of Australian Sailing, Daniel Belcher, commented, "We're incredibly excited. We see it as the start of the much larger series in the years to follow. It'll be a proof of concept and buy-in, if you like."

"There is a strong link between Australian Sailing and the owners; this is one of the fruits of that. Co-ordinating a schedule for them to be involved in takes time, but this kicks us off well. Thank you to the CYCA for hosting the regatta.

"The maxis provide such a visual element. The sounds and the feelings you have when you see them are amazing, and I can still remember all of that from back when I was a kid watching the Hobart."

"The Australian Maxi Championship is the first step in creating a reason and meaning over the course of the year. We'll have this Championship, the Hobart, and maybe two or three others. It just makes sense to do it: to offer more opportunities to put these machines to work for the owners and crew.

"It all helps grow the profile of the sport, and the industry as a whole, as well as being another touch point for Joe Public with our sport, which all helps to build participation and membership," said Belcher in closing.

As the Skipper of the supermaxi, Black Jack, Mark Bradford commented, "This is all about brining owners of great boats together in what will be a world class event on Sydney Harbour, at a time when everyone has gathered ready for the big race. It just amplifies sailing in December."

As the head of North Sails Australia, Bradford also said how the Sydney Loft would have all hands on deck to support their global armada of clients that can make it here, and North Sails will also take a sponsorship position with the event to ensure its success.

Paddy Broughton has taken the maxi ketch Kialoa II all over the place, and said, "Big boat racing is fun to do. One of the concerns for us in normal racing is the start line. New boats don't quite remember how much room we need to manoeuvre. This will be great fun, and we're really looking forward to it." Broughton's entry was in the very next day after the NoR came out.

"A regatta to hone you ahead of the big race; it's just like the old days. Having not been able to get out means we are chomping at the bit. The few training days we have managed is just not the same thing. As we say on board: Mizzen staysail up, and life is good on K2."

Thanks for segue Paddy. I'll now go out on a limb by saying that I'll make a prize for anyone game enough to give me a blooper... (Paddy says they don't even have one in the wardrobe BTW).

The inimitable, and always hilarious, Andrew Plympton could easily be identified by that wonderful old saying: He's a card. Yet upon reflection that is probably somewhat of an injustice, for Plymo is actually more like the whole deck. Always a pleasure to speak with him...

Plymo commented on sailing aboard the Frers 61, Margaret Rintoul V, "It's great fun with all the children. What a pleasure. It's a bit of a balancing act with the other boats I also sail on, but I get to do the tactics, and nurse the dog on my lap as well; a baby-sitting exercise in every sense."

"I'm looking forward to it. We have wonderful personalities on board. There's some discipline required to look after them, but I am happy to put my hand up for that. We have new sails and heaps of determination. If I have to go on the foredeck myself in over 25 knots and show them how to gybe the pole, then I will!"

Margaret Rintoul V is now owned by World Champion sailor Damien King, and has a bunch of skiff, Cadet and Etchells stars on board like Eliza Solly, Andrew Henderson, and Jeremy O'Connell. There's also a bloke who hung around 470s a bit, and collected the ultimate bling in the process - Mark Turnbull OAM.

Let's close with a note of encouragement and achievement for all the Olympians. Right oh - there is plenty of information on the group's websites for you to review when you can. Please avail yourself of it.

Now if your class or association is generating material, please submit your material. Got this newsletter from a friend? Would you like your own copy next week? Just follow the instructions on our newsletter page. Whilst there, you can also register for other editions, like Powerboat-World.

Finally, many thanks for making Sail-World your go-to choice. We're always here to keep pumping out the news. Stay safe, and enjoy your time on the water.

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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