Sean Langman’s ongoing battle to have multihulls recognised as legitimate entrants in all regattas has met another obstacle. The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has refused entry to multihulls in the 178th Australia Day Regatta this weekend, despite the Australia Day Council posting on its website “a cordial invitation to all yachts”.
Justifying the decision to exclude multihulls from this regatta and the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the club cites clause 8.1 of the CYCA General Conditions of Racing with regard to eligibility of boats – “A boat shall be of monohull construction and comply with SR part 1 for the applicable Race Category”.
Following Langman’s attempt to enter his Orma 60 Team Australia in the 2012 Sydney-Hobart (which he followed up by setting a new record for the race distance in February 2013), the CYCA appointed a sub-committee to look at the question. However, when I asked the club for an update this week I was told by CEO, Mark Woolf, that acceptance of multihulls by the club was ‘not likely’.
“The CYCA has built a strong reputation and culture by specialising in monohull ocean racing. We do not currently have the experience, facilities or the mandate from members to consider the introduction of multihull boats into our racing program,” he wrote in an email response.
Woolf also pointed out that the Australia Day Regatta event organisers accommodate a race for multihulls organised by the Royal Motor Yacht Club at Broken Bay.
However, neither Langman nor Stephen Barton is satisfied with the response. Barton wrote to the club:
I'm very disappointed that my entry to participate in the race that the CYC is organising on behalf of the Australia Day Council of NSW, that on the website gave a cordial invitation to all yachts, has been rejected based on hull configuration less than week from the start time. I don't need to tell you how well proven these types of yachts are in all sea conditions.
It's especially disappointing as you are hosting the management of this race on behalf of the Australia Day Regatta. Exclusion seems rather at odds to the "inclusive and acceptance of all law abiding citizens" message that Australia Day embodies.
As a member of the Royal Motor Yacht Club, Broken Bay, I have enjoyed participating for the past 20 years in all sorts of activities organised by our Club.
Just this last weekend Big Bird participated in a mixed fleet interclub ocean race, completing another of the dozens of Cat 3 and Cat 4 races already completed, from Broken Bay to Narrabeen and return. I'm sure you're also aware that five multihulls participated in the recently run Pittwater to Coffs.
Hopefully, in the future, you might consider amending the sailing instructions for this Australia Day Regatta (if not for all your races).
Langman was his usual direct self: Bottom line to me is simple. The multihulls are legal and as a rule don't employ stored power to sail. Thus to me they are devoid of any impurity of a wind driven vessel. Regardless of CYCA position on offshore safety, the NOR for the oldest regatta in Australia says ‘open to all yachts’. (He subsequently expanded on these points - see below.)
This is an issue that will not go away. Almost every regatta week in Australia embraces multihulls, as do most of the coastal races. Their safety record has been proved over and over – multihulls hold the round-world speed record and Langman’s Team Australia has set records for Sydney to Hobart and Sydney to Auckland in the past 12 months as well as winning New Zealand’s Coastal Classic
The America’s Cup is now raced in multihulls and that regatta and the Extreme Series, which is coming to Sydney in December, are living proof of the excitement and positive promotion of sailing which multihulls can engender.
Although I am a member of the CYCA and usually a strong supporter of the club’s management, on this issue I think they are wrong. I think they need to embrace multihulls, as other clubs and organisations are doing around the world.
The word “iconic” is gravely overused in sailing journalism, but if there are two iconic sailing events in Australia they are the Sydney-Hobart and the Australia Day Regatta. It is a shame that the usually excellent custodian of both is also the last bastion of monohull-centricity.
Can you imagine the interest that would be engendered among the general public (and therefore the return on investment for the CYCA’s sponsors) if Team Australia, TeamVodafone and two or three other big multihulls crossed the Sydney-Hobart start line 24 hours after Wild Oats XI and the other super maxis?
In most years the super maxis would win, but if they were becalmed and the multihulls had a strong north-easterly up their tails, the suspense would be incredible as the two fleets converged.
Perhaps it’s time for an enterprising and forward-thinking member of the CYCA to start lobbying members, and move an amendment to clause 8.1.
I, for one, would like to see the big beasts welcomed in every major Australian sailing race. After all, it works for the French.
- Roger McMillan
Open letter from Sean Langman regarding the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s decision to exclude his ORMA 60 trimaran Team Australia from competing in the Australia Day Regatta offshore race:
23rd January 2014
The story is pretty simple. Sydney Harbour was the arrival point for the first fleet settlers on January 26th 1788 and the harbour is a focal point each year for celebrations.
The Australia Day regatta is Australia’s longest running yachting event held under the auspicious of the Australia Day Council. The regatta is spread about the harbour and offshore and the offshore race is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in Rushcutters Bay.
Team Australia, an ORMA 60, wished to enter the offshore event as the Notice of Race invited all yachts to compete. Thus Team Australia entered and invited other compliant multihull yachts to do so.
Our entries were accepted with feedback from the CYCA that the multihull yachts had to form their own division. We had the numbers to form our own division so, all looked good until Monday 20th January when a letter was received by email to each multihull entrant advising them that the CYCA would not start the division citing that the boats are not monohulls and self-righting.
Team Australia intends to sail the offshore race course as a statement of freedom and equality.
I don’t see this as social injustice but if sailors cannot unite with a common goal of enjoyment under blue sky and perfect sea breeze then what hope do we have as a country to achieve national unity under one flag.