2023 SOLAS Big Boat Challenge | Raymarine Australian Maxi Championship

Photos by Andrea Francolini | CYCA 

Nine of the best performing maxi racing yachts in Australia competed in ideal sailing conditions with an 18kt NE breeze on Sydney Harbour this afternoon in the fifth and final race of the 2023 Raymarine Australian Maxi Championship.

The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge, hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), has become a popular spectator event over its 25 years and seldom fails to deliver close and exciting racing. As the last major event before the Rolex Sydney Hobart on Boxing Day, it’s a final test for crews, an opportunity to test set-ups and a chance to claim bragging rights over rivals.

The 2023 victors in both Maxi (80 to 100-foot) and Mini Maxi (60 to 79-foot) divisions have arguably been the form boats of the past few months.

Christian Beck’s Juan Kouyoumdjian Maxi 100 LawConnect has placed second to Andoo Comanche in many races in 2023 and has also been bridesmaid for Line Honours in the past three Rolex Sydney Hobarts, but under the guidance of Tony Mutter and Ty Oxley, the crew has gelled strongly and been sailing as a tight team. Today they completed the course without a blemish.

Anthony Johnston’s Reichel Pugh 72 URM Group, winner of the Mini Maxi Division, has won three of five 2023/24 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore races and is looking hard to beat in its division.

The Raymarine Australian Maxi Championship wrapped up with both Law Connect and URM Group comfortably taking out their divisions after consistent performances across the five races – Cabbage Tree Island Race, three Passage Races over two days and the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge.

Andoo Comanche won the Maxi Line Honours prize.

At the Prizegiving afterwards, LawConnect’s owner Christian Beck jokingly declared ” …if given the choice between first place in the SOLAS Big Boat Race or second in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, I’d always choose the Big Boat.”

Earlier in the day, a panel of competitors talked about their preparation for Boxing Day and what the Australian Maxi Championship means to them. Tony Mutter (LawConnect), Duncan Hine and Adrienne Cahalan (Alive), David Gotze (No Limit), David Griffith (Whisper) and Anthony Johnston (URM Group) entertained the audience with anecdotes and observations about the fleet.

When sharing his enjoyment for the Raymarine Australian Maxi Championship regatta, David Gotze of No Limit said “It’s a fantastic regatta. Racing the competitive boats that go down to Hobart, we use it as an opportunity to compete against international entrants who come down to Sydney for both the Maxi Champs and the Hobart race.” 

2023 SOLAS BIG BOAT CHALLENGE RESULTS

IRC Overall
URM Group
Alive
No Limit
Wild Oats X
Moneypenny
LawConnect
SHK Scallywag
Andoo Comanche
Whisper (RET)

IRC Maxi Division
LawConnect
SHK Scallywag
Andoo Comanche

IRC Mini Maxi Division
URM Group 
Alive
No Limit
Wild Oats X
Moneypenny
Whisper (RET)

Line Honours (Maxi Division)
LawConnect
Andoo Comanche
SHK Scallywag

2023 RAYMARINE AUSTRALIAN MAXI CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS

IRC Overall (Maxis)
LawConnect – 6pts
Andoo Comanche – 12pts
SHK Scallywag – 17 pts

IRC Overall (Mini Maxis)
URM Group – 6pts
Alive – 10pts
No Limit – 21pts
Whisper – 22pts
Moneypenny – 23pts
Wild Oats X – 26pts

Line Honours (Maxi Division)
Andoo Comanche – 7pts
LawConnect – 9pts
SHK Scallywag – 19pts

The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge was the last race before the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on Boxing Day (26 December 2023).

Official website: cyca.com.au

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