Andoo Comanche takes Tollgate Islands Race line honours

Andoo Comanche continues to make advances ahead of the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, winning line honours in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Tollgate Islands Race.

The 260 nautical mile race is the third of six races in the 2022/23 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore, in which the Rolex Sydney Hobart is the finale.

This was a second line honours win in three Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore races for Andoo Comanche, the famous VPLP 100 chartered and skippered by John Winning Jr, which saw off rival maxis Hamilton Island Wild Oats and Black Jack in the 2022 Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race.

Despite being the only 100-footer in the Tollgate Islands Race – with URM Group (Anthony Johnston’s Reichel/Pugh 72, skippered by Marcus Ashley-Jones) and Moneypenny (Sean Langman’s Reichel/Pugh 69) the next biggest boats in the fleet – Winning Jr saw plenty of benefits to getting more race miles under the belt.

“The weather forecast suited us and we got the better of it,” Winning Jr said. “It’s rare this boat will win on handicap, we’re very much a line honours boat. but if we can take out the overall win and we’ve set the record in the inaugural race as well, even better.

“It was really fun, good for crew work and good for morale. It was just nice to get the crew back together and have a good race.”

Andoo Comanche made an impressive start to the race on Friday evening, dashing out of Sydney Harbour in just 10 minutes thanks to a 16-19 knot west sou’westerly, gusting up to 30 knots.

Andoo Comanche reached top speeds of up to 27 knots on Friday evening and rounded Tollgate Islands, just off Batemans Bay, around 4am on Saturday.

Lighter breeze on the leg back to Sydney posed some tactical questions for the crew, as the boat shines most at high speed, but Winning Jr and his crew were regularly able to get her into her comfort zone, averaging 12.7kts on their way to another victory.

“We got up to just over 27 knots around Shark Island which was very interesting,” he said.

“We got some good breeze going south and just after rounding the islands it was really light for a while. But it was pretty cruisy on the way home.

“This was the first time we’ve given the boat a full run like that since we put it back in the water, so it was about making sure everything worked.

“The day before, the hydraulics on the keel weren’t working 100% on one side, so it was the first time we had changed the part on that and were able to test it.”

Andoo Comanche looks in a strong position to claim overall victory in the Tollgate Islands Race, leading the standings on IRC handicap.

URM Group and Moneypenny are on track to finish later on Saturday evening, while the TP52s – Gweilo, Quest and Smuggler – should arrive in the early hours on Sunday.

Mitch Grima/CYCA

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