Thursday, December 20, 2018

Awesome Venues Announced for 2019 M32 European Series

(London, 19th December, 2018) - For 2019, the M32 European Series will see teams in the high performance one design catamaran class competing in five events across Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands culminating in the M32 World Championship on Lake Garda.
Photo: © M32 European Series
In late March teams get the opportunity to blow the cobwebs away at a warm-up and training event in San Remo, close to the French border in Italy. Two months later the season starts up in earnest with the first scoring event taking place in Marina di Pisa, Italy in late May. The circuit then visits Holland before arriving in Sweden. 2019 will be the second season of racing for the combined Mediterranean and Scandinavian M32 fleets in the M32 European Series.
Photo: © M32 European Series
The first event in Sweden will take place near Gothenburg, close to the island of Hönö where the high tech catamarans are manufactured by Aston Harald. The boats will then head up the Swedish coast to Stenungsund, just north of Marstrand, for two days of inshore racing, prior to their competing in the Tjörn Runt. 
Photo: © M32 European Series
Organised by the Stenungsunds Segelsällskap, this annual race anti-clockwise around the island of Tjörn is 28 nautical miles long. Typically it attracts several hundred entries, making it one of the highest participation sailing events in Sweden. This year an M32 claimed the course record, held for many years before by a substantially larger ORMA 60 trimaran.
Photo: Anton Klock / © M32 European Series
After this the pace of the season intensifies with the M32 fleet returning south to Riva del Garda at the sailing mecca of Lake Garda, for their Pre-Worlds and World Championship at the end of August. 
Photo: © M32 European Series
The Pre-Worlds will be the last scoring event of the 2019 M32 European Series and will be the prelude to the World Sailing-sanctioned M32 World Championship. For these events, the fleet is set to be joined by teams from the M32 North American Series, making the journey to compete in the class' premier event.

Richard Davies, former class President and owner-driver on Section 16, which ended the 2018 M32 European Series fourth overall, commented: “I'm delighted with the new 2019 M32 European Series. We are anticipating new owners and key teams from the US fleet to join us as we race through the summer in the build-up to the World Championship in Riva del Garda in August. No doubt racing will be as thrilling as usual and the Series very enjoyable for owners and crews.”

With circuits now well-established in Europe and North America, M32 events follow a familiar format - taking place over three days with up to eight races per day. These are held on windward-leeward courses with reaching starts and finishes and top and bottom gates. Races typically are of 15-20 minutes duration.

Run by Class Manager and PRO Mattias Dahlstrom, competition on the water is held to the top international standards of race management, umpiring and safety.

Two extra M32s to be made available

New for the 2019 season is that over and above the existing entries in the M32 European Series, the M32’s manufacturer Aston Harald, is offering two boats free of charge to teams wishing to compete on the circuit. The intention is for one of these top be a ‘development team’, while the other will be to entice new owners into the circuit.

Other M32s are available for charter and the organisers can offer turnkey campaigns, complete with experienced crew for those wishing to join the circuit and who are short on time. Capable of speeds approaching 30 knots, M32s offer unrivalled 'performance for your buck'.

“We are extremely excited to announce the 2019 M32 European Series. The ease with which the boats are transported, built, and launched helps us go to amazing venues and I believe we will have six incredible events leading up to what will be a spectacular World Championship in Riva del Garda, one of the best yacht racing venues in the World. With Aston Harald’s generous donation of boats, and events from Pisa to Gothenburg, there is now no excuse for teams interested in the M32 not to come and join in the fun,” said Ian Williams, skipper of GAC Pindar, winner of the 2018 M32 Series, and M32 Class Vice President.

2019 M32 European Series

San Remo, Italy - 22-24 March (non-scoring warm-up event)
Marina di Pisa, Italy - 24-26 May
Holland - 21-23 June (host venue to be confirmed)
Gothenburg, Sweden - 19-21 July
Stenungsund, Sweden - 15-17 August (two days inshore racing followed by the Tjörn Runt)
Pre-Worlds, Riva del Garda, Italy - 24-25 August
M32 World Championship, Riva del Garda, Italy - 26-30 August

M32 Media

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Coxon Continues His Domination of Sydney Harbour with Smeg

18ft Skiffs NSW Championship - Race 4
Sunday, 16 December 2018 - Sydney Harbour
Photo: Frank Quealey
The Smeg 18ft Skiff team of Michael Coxon, Ricky Bridge and Mike McKensey gave an awesome display of power sailing as they tamed the 25-knot, gusting to 30-knots, North East wind to take out Race 4 of the NSW 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today.
Photo: Frank Quealey
Smeg grabbed the lead from the start and dominated the fleet before going on to record a 2m41s victory. In a day which required the very best racing skills, the next two teams to finish behind Smeg were loaded with the very best.
Photo: Frank Quealey
Bing Lee, skippered by former Australian champion Micah Lane, with former Giltinan champions Peter Harris and Scott Babbage in the team, chased Smeg all day but were unable to match the winner's speed.
Photo: Frank Quealey
Third place went to Winning Group, which had John Winning Jr, and two more Giltinan champions, Seve Jarvin and Sam Newton, in the team. Winning Group finished one minute and 14 seconds behind Bing Lee, and more than four minutes ahead of the fourth boat, Ilve (Jonathan Whitty).
Photo: Frank Quealey
Rag & Famish Hotel (Bryce Edwards) came in fifth, followed by Finport Finance (Keagan York), Vintec (Kirk Mitchell), Asko Appliances (James Dorron), The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Aron Everett) and MMM (Tom Anderson).
Photo: Frank Quealey
The other eight entries were forced to retire with a variety of gear failures in the extremely strong wind conditions.
Photo: Frank Quealey
Smeg leads the NSW Championship scores with a total of 10 points, followed by Asko Appliances on 14, Finport Finance on 18, Winning Group on 20, Rag & Famish Hotel on 23 and Yandoo (John Winning) 24.
Photo: Frank Quealey
Smeg's domination began soon after the race started and a clear lead was established by the time the fleet reached the windward mark at Beashel Buoy. Bing Lee was already in second place ahead of Finport Finance, Noakesailing (Sean Langman), with Vintec and Winning Group ahead of the rest.
Photo: Frank Quealey
Vintec and Finport Finance had problems on the run and lost several minutes, leaving Smeg, Bing lee and Noakesailing to head the fleet at the end of the first lap of the course. Winning Group had edged forward to be in fourth place ahead of Ilve and Asko Appliances.
Photo: Frank Quealey
While there was little change in the placings over the final two laps of the course, spectators were treated to some action-packed, high speed racing as the skiffs powered around the course. Smeg's crossed the finish line one full leg of the course ahead of Bing Lee, and her crew were more than happy with the performance.
Frank Quealey

Friday, December 14, 2018

Smeg is Smoking Hot at 18ft Skiffs Supercup

18ft Skiffs Supercup
Friday, 14 December 2018 - Sydney Harbour

Following a day of consistent rain, a brief thunderstorm, low visibility and light winds, the inaugural Australian 18 Footers League 18ft Skiff Supercup races got underway in poor sailing conditions, but as the weather improved and the breeze freshened, the racing over the three-race series of windward-return short courses on Sydney Harbour this evening was spectacular.
Photo: Michael Kennedy 
The return to the 18s by many past JJ Giltinan (World) Champions was a highlight of the series and showed that the legends of the class still have a great feel for the skiffs.
Photo: Michael Kennedy 
Six-times JJ Giltinan champion Trevor Barnabas was outstanding, and reminded spectators of his ability to pick the wind shifts, as he skippered the Smeg team, with Ricky Bridge and Mike McKensey, to victory in two of the three races.
Photo: Michael Kennedy 
In the opening race, over two laps, John Winning (2000 JJ Giltinan winner), Mike Kennedy and Luke Parkinson took an early lead in Yandoo and increased her lead to score a good win over a fast-finishing 2004 JJ champ Rob Greenhalgh in Finport Finance, which narrowly finished ahead of Smeg.
Photo: Michael Kennedy 
Yandoo continued to impress on the first leg of the course in Race 2, but couldn't match the windward speed of Smeg and the finishing burst of Finport Finance and fell back to third place, ahead of Vintec (Dan Phillips), Triple M (David Witt) and Winning Group (Seve Jarvin).
Photo: Michael Kennedy 
With Smeg and Yandoo equal on points going into the final race, over four laps of the course, the breeze freshened which seemed to prove a big advantage for the Smeg team. Once again, Smeg won the race to the windward mark to lead Winning Group by 10 seconds, followed by The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Lee Knapton), and Finport Finance.
Photo: Michael Kennedy 
Smeg was still 10 seconds ahead at the windward mark on the following lap of the course with Winning Group and The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines alongside each other. As the race progressed, Smeg edged further ahead of the other pair, while Finport Finance retained fourth place and The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone (Stephen Quigley) fifth.
Photo: Michael Kennedy 
A big change came over the race at the bottom mark on the third lap when The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines capsized and Winning Group lost all chance when the team had spinnaker problems as the crew battled to round the mark.
Photo: Michael Kennedy 
Many long time supporters were vividly reminded about the 18ft Skiff Racing talent of Trevor Barnabas as the highly efficient Smeg team proved too good on the day. The event was a great success, particularly despite the dreadful weather conditions and it looks certain to become a fixture on the Australian 18 Footer League's calendar

Frank Quealey

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Wild Oats XI Reclaims Line Honours Crown in Grinders Coffee SOLAS Big Boat Challenge

Despite smart crew work from last year's Line Honours winner Peter Harburg’s Black Jack, it was only a matter of moments before the Oatley Family’s Wild Oats XI exerted her authority to take Line Honours in the 2018 Grinders Coffee SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour today.
Wild Oats XI   Photo: Andrea Francolini
Although the breeze was light-on for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s (CYCA) annual Harbour stoush, the pre-cursor to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the racing between these two super maxis was anything but.
Wild Oats XI   Photo: Andrea Francolini
"We were lucky enough to get a great start and that put us in a position to take advantage of the course," said Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards.
Mark Richards (WOXI), Jonathan Kerley of Grinders and Sandy Oatley  Photo: Andrea Francolini
"It's always tough racing against Black Jack in lighter air and they certainly kept us on our toes. All crews did a great job on all boats out there today and we are very happy with the Line Honours [Grinders Coffee SOLAS Big Boat Challenge] win," he added.
Black Jack Photo: Andrea Francolini
Behind the pair, Christian Beck’s InfoTrack was slow to wind up but soon picked up pace, meanwhile Seng Huang Lee’s Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag took a leg out to the western shore and seemed to be struggling. As the race wore on, however, third place became a battle of those two as they swapped third and fourth throughout the race, with InfoTrack coming from behind to claim third place.
InfoTrack Photo: Andrea Francolini
Further back from the supers the battle was on between The Oatley Family’s Wild Oats X raced by the all-female Ocean Respect Racing; Winning Appliances skippered by John Winning Jr and Sean Langman’s Naval Group.

Ocean Respect Racing Photo: Andrea Francolini
Winning Appliances got off the start smartly and was third behind the leading super maxis for the bulk of the first leg – perhaps John and John’s 18-foot skiff skills came into play. Winning Appliances kept the pressure on the whole way around the course, sailed in a mostly 8-10 knot sou ‘easterly, to take the Overall Win from Wild Oats XI.
WinningAppliances Photo: Andrea Francolini

"We've sailed around these headlands many times on 18-foot skiffs and we really enjoyed our second outing now on our Hobart challenger," said Winning Appliances skipper John Winning Jr.
WinningAppliances Photo: Andrea Francolini
"We've heard a lot about 'finalising preparations for Boxing Day' but for us, this was our first! We're flying in a lot of our crew from interstate and overseas and we're only going to get better and better from here."
Naval Group Photo: Andrea Francolini
Sean Langman’s Naval Group, on her second outing today, will now be keen to overcome headsail issues, also experienced by Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag and InfoTrack - which ultimately killed all three’s chances of either Line or Overall victories.
Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag Photo: Andrea Francolini
Pundits believe that the result of the Grinders Coffee SOLAS Big Boat Challenge is a forecast of what will happen in the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Competitors will tell you this is not the case, however, as there is a big difference between a short Harbour course and the 628-nautical-mile offshore race to Hobart when many other factors come into play.

This was the 25th running of the Big Boat Challenge which started in 1994 when George Snow’s Brindabella took Line Honours, another yacht with a Sydney Hobart pedigree.

After today’s exhibition of the big-end of the fleet, all eyes now turn to the main event, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the ‘Everest’ of Ocean Racing, taking place on Boxing Day.

Di Pearson with DJ Munro

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Asko Claims Victory in Race 3 of NSW Championship

18ft Skiffs, NSW Championship - Race 3
Sunday, 9 December 2018, Sydney Harbour

The Asko Appliances crew of James Dorron, Harry Bethwaite and Kyle Langford came from a seemingly hopeless position to win an incredible Race 3 of the NSW 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
In a race which saw two leaders capsize while in a race-winning position, Asko Appliances grabbed the lead just 200 metres from the finish line to produce the dramatic 33 second victory.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Sean Langman, Ed Powys and Nathan Edwards took the lead, in Noakesailing, with one lap of the North-East course still to sail and looked to have the race won before they capsized at the final wing mark.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
The Noakesailing team recovered quickly but lost the lead as Asko Appliances powered home on the spinnaker run between Shark Island and the Clark Island finish line off Double Bay.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Smeg (Michael Coxon, Ricky Bridge, Mike McKensey) took an early lead and opened up a break of more than one minute 30 seconds at the second windward mark, but the skiff capsized when it hit a wave, and nose dived as the team approached the bottom mark, which left Noakesailing in the lead.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Despite losing several minutes in the capsize, the Smeg team recovered brilliantly to finish in third place, just 21 seconds behind Noakesailing. Asko Appliances trailed Smeg to the wing mark off Shark Island on the first run but lost several minutes when they had serious spinnaker trouble.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
With the fleet racing at top speed behind her, Asko was forced well back in the fleet for the next lap of the course. John Winning's Yandoo continued her consistency when she finished fourth today, and holds the overall lead in the championship with a total of five points, just one point ahead of Asko Appliances.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Smeg is third on nine points, followed by The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone (Jordan Girdis) and Finport Finance (Keagan York) equal on 12, Rag & Famish Hotel (Ben Bradley) 18, and R Marine Pitttwater (Simon Nearn) on 19.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
The wind and choppy conditions took a toll on the fleet with many competitors capsizing and four teams forced to retire. Despite the spectacle of the first two spectacular spinnaker runs from the Beashel Buoy, the final run was exceptional as spectators were unsure of the likely winner until the very end.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Dal Zotto (Jack Sprague) continues to improve each week and the young team showed just how much it has improved with a fifth placing today.

Frank Quealey

Saturday, December 8, 2018

CYCA Trophy Series Underway - Final Lead Up Regatta Before 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

Day one of the weekend-long Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) Trophy Series was underway today with a super competitive line-up making the start on Sydney Harbour. The CYCA Trophy is the last major offshore hit-out for crews preparing for the 628-nautical-mile challenge to come on Boxing Day and with fresh summer nor ‘easterly conditions today, is reminiscent of so many Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races throughout history.
Hooligan Photo: Hamish Hardy / CYCA Media
Marcus Blackmore’s TP52 Hooligan from Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club led the fleet out of Sydney Heads followed closely by interstate entrant Hugh Ellis’ RP63 Voodoo representing the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria. A little further back Seb Bohm’s Rogers 46 Smuggler, a CYCA racing stalwart, raced head-to-head with Bob Cox’s DK46 Nine Dragons from Middle Harbour Yacht Club on their way out of Sydney Heads.
Chutzpah Photo: Hamish Hardy / CYCA Media
Bruce Taylor’s Caprice 40 Chutzpah, another interstate entrant representing the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, will be one of the crews looking to get a feel for Sydney conditions leading in to the Great Race. Taylor’s long-term crew are all Rolex Sydney Hobart veterans, however they are yet to step to the top of the podium – something that Taylor, after claiming the Overall Win in this year’s Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, very much has on his radar come Boxing Day.
Voodoo Photo: Hamish Hardy / CYCA Media
Les Goodridge’s X50 Wax Lyrical is one of a host of challengers in the CYCA Trophy Series who are fresh from competing in the first five races of the Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore. Taking the challenge to them is fellow Audi Centre Sydney BWPS competitors in Charles Cupit’s Sydney 47 Wot’s Next, Tony Walton’s RP46 Hartbreaker and Mark Gorbatov & Mark Siebert’s Beneteau First 40 Blink.

And bringing up the rear of the fleet as they head for the open ocean is the first yacht to have ever raced to Hobart 25 times, the S&S 39 Mark Twain. Now under the ownership of Michael Spies and representing Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the historic boat will once again make its pilgrimage to the Apple Isle this year, this time with a crew boasting over 150 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races between them.

It was down to the wire with Hooligan and Voodoo at the finish for line honours, but it was the TP52 Hooligan that took the win in IRC Division 1 in today's race. Smuggler is sitting in second ahead of Voodoo in third.

DJ Munro

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Comanche Sails to Fourth Series Line Honours and Breaks Seven Year Record

After capturing the eyes of the world and, more importantly to her team, Line Honours and the new open record for fastest time in the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in spectacular fashion, Comanche has backed up with an undeniably dominant performance in this year’s Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore (Audi Centre Sydney BWPS) series.
Photo Hamish Hardy / CYCA Media
Five races down and one to go, Jim Cooney & Samantha Grant’s 100-foot racer has not only claimed four Line Honours victories, but three new records in the series considered to be the pinnacle of ocean racing in this country.
Photo Hamish Hardy / CYCA Media
“The team only had four days together on the boat before the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race last year,” said Cooney, who famously purchased Comanche a mere 96 hours before the start.

“This year we have set out to prove the boat’s credentials and have worked hard on our light-air performance and downwind depth. I think that work is now shining through and the team has really come together,” he added.

And with today’s Bird Island Race now behind them, their attention inevitably turns towards the greatest race in the Australian sailing calendar, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starting on Boxing Day this year. With five super-maxis entered and an exceptional line-up throughout, it has been described as the toughest fleet in the history of the event.

“These are all top-line boats, and we’re all very, very keen to be first across the line for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Three of the super-maxis have won before, and it’s fair to say the top half of Scallywag has won the race before. But it will come down to conditions, it will come down to a bit of luck, everyone will be trying their utmost hardest and all teams have put their preparation in,” said Cooney.

But Comanche wasn’t the only record-breaker on-course today with Peter Harburg’s Black Jack also coming in under time. The previous record, held by Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 Loki (who now own the race's conventionally ballasted record) was set in 2011, the same year Ainsworth took her to Overall Victory in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

The Bird Island Race battle continues however, with four-time winner in the Audi Centre Sydney BWPS series so far, Matt Allen’s Botin-designed TP52 Ichi Ban, currently leading the pack. Allen and crew are the current Tattersall Cup holders for Overall Winner in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and a team that continues to dominate.

And even now, with nine hours of racing behind them, and plenty of miles still to race, ‘we’re winning’ will undoubtedly still be the mantra of the smallest boat in the race, the crowd favourite 'little blue boat’ – Shane Kearns’ S&S 34 Komatsu Azzurro.

DJ Munro

Bird Island Race - Anyone Can Win Shortest and Fastest Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore Race

A packed-out boat-end start line in 5-10 knots of building nor ‘east sea breeze this morning saw not only the first day of summer, but the start of the final Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore (Audi Centre Sydney BWPS) series before the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Forty competitors have started in this year’s Bird Island Race, the shortest and fastest of the Audi Centre Sydney BWPS, and with conditions created a level playing field, this year’s race is anyone’s game.
Forty competitors took the line for the Sydney Harbour start of Bird Island Race. Photo: Hamish Hardy, CYCA Media
“We are going to win” said the invariably confident Shane Kearns from his S&S 34 Komatsu Azzurro – the smallest boat in the fleet – before the 1000hrs start.

Kearns’ confidence is so unwavering, in fact, that even as the last boat out of the Sydney Heads and making for Bird Island some 40 nautical miles north, he could still be heard cajoling his crew with “we’re winning, we’re winning.”

Providing strong competition for the smallest boat in the fleet, however, will be some of the largest. Four TP52s: Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, CYCA Rear Commodore Dr Sam Haynes’ Celestial, Peter Wrigley & Andy Kearnan’s Koa and Matt Donald & Chris Townsend’s Gweilo are currently racing north in that order after an exciting tussle off north head saw the lead change with every cross.

Shadowing them closely is Michael Cranitch’s LC60 Triton, with Hugh Ellis’ RP63 Voodooand Sean Langman’s newly-christened RP 65 Naval Group ahead. All of these teams will be using this race as preparation for their 628-nautical-mile journey to come on Boxing Day.

And no boats will be watching each other more closely than the three super-maxis at the head of the race. Riding the building nor ‘easterly breeze Jim Cooney & Samantha Grant’s Comanche has overtaken Pater Harburg’s lighter-wind-favoured Black Jack as they race past Bateau Bay, only 12 miles from the turning point.

Christian Beck’s InfoTrack, after setting, resetting and setting their sails again down Sydney Harbour is also rising to the occasion, and the building breeze, hunting down their same-sized competitors.

Some very close racing is also being had in the bulk of the fleet with almost three quarters of the competitors spread between just an eight-nautical mile field. This pack including the likes of 2017 Blue Water Pointscore champion Tony Kirby’s Ker 46 Patrice, as well as this year’s Cabbage Tree Island Race winner CYCA Vice Commodore Noel Cornish AM’s Sydney 47 St Jude.

Kevin Whelan’s Reve, another stalwart of CYCA’s racing program, is towards the back of the fleet. With only Komastu Azzurro trailing, the team aboard Reve will surely be spurred on by the almost-incessant ‘we’re winning, we’re winning’ coming across the water from the little blue boat behind.

DJ Munro