Sailed double-handed by owner Alex Toomey and crew-mate Andrew Hibbert, Ryujin has won the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria’s (ORCV) 2022 Apollo Bay Race, in which Margaret Rintoul V (Damien King) took line honours in a close race across the board.
A fleet of 31 boats started the 52 nautical mile race. Ryujin, a Sayers 12, beat Jason Close’s J133, Patriot by a slim 14 second margin to claim overall victory under AMS, also winning PHS and Double-Handed divisions. At the front of the fleet, King’s Frers 61 crossed the finish ahead of Extasea, the Cookson 50 owned by Paul Buchholz but skippered by Simon Hunter in his absence, by a mere 55 seconds.
Starting under the cover of dark in drizzling rain at 6am on Saturday, following a 15 minute delay as officials waited for the breeze to fill in, Margaret Rintoul V (MRV) led the fleet out of Port Phillip Heads. Her finish time of 5 hours 58mins 31secs fell 24 minutes shy of Kaos’ (Peter Blake) 1999 record of 5 hours 34mins 4secs.
Crews enjoyed a reaching race, owners selecting their light air sails to start. However, by 10.30am, winds had built to 18 knots, gusting to 30 from the north, with squalls and bullets coming off the land. Unprepared for the ferocity, quite a few are putting money into the pockets of sailmakers today.
MRV with full gear up, was just ahead of Extasea, which had two reefs in the main. According to the Race Directors, MRV was heeling so far over, it appeared her gear was touching the water.
“We had ever sail up, but we had a reef in the main for a bit,” King confirmed. “It’s an old-school heavy sort of boat (German Frers design built in 1996) with a big rudder, so it can take the conditions better than the modern boats. We had a great time.
“We used our new Code Zero with our other near-new sails built for the Sydney Hobart, all from Aaron Cole at North Sails. We used them all in combination with each other. Our Code Zero, asymmetrical, jib, inner jib and main. We finished with full main and normal working jib.
“Extasea sailed higher than us in less breeze, so it made their conditions a little tougher than ours. They were getting squalls above them, while we were to leeward, so it was easier.”
King said new systems and new technology had been added to the boat, “So we can sail an older boat easily.”
As always, the Melbourne sailor fielded an eclectic crew: Mark Willett (nicknamed ‘LR’, for Long Race, because of Whitbread and other long races he has done), Aaron Cole, Eliza Solly, Jeremy O’Connell, Ben Morrison-Jack, Jonathan Orr and Mark Byrne.
“The catering was good. We had the oven running the whole time. I don’t think we’ll need to eat for the rest of the week. Jonny (Orr), a regular crew, filled in for our usual caterer, Matt Mullins (a renowned Victorian publican) and did a great job.
“Eliza trims spinnaker. We didn’t have the perfect start, but we managed to leave the Heads first and she led the charge,” King ended.
Ryujin, sailing for CPR Australia, “a good supporter,” Toomey says, wasn’t far behind the leaders throughout. It was Toomey’s first double-handed ocean race, so an amazing result for the pair.
“Andy is part of my regular crew and we’ve wanted to do offshore racing two-handed. Since moving to Melbourne two years ago, we’ve got to know each other and push each other hard. I really enjoy sailing with him and I’m looking forward to more. We’ll do the somewhere to Hobart race at the end of the year. We’re still deciding which,” Toomey said.
On the race to Apollo Bay, “We’ve been able to keep up with the Cookson 50, in this and the King Island Race. We were up with them this time but broke the tackline, Toomey said.
“There was lots of reefing, switching the Jib Top and the A3 spinnaker and moving the water ballast. We were pushing very hard. We were very determined. When we saw MRV we pushed harder and as we did, she got bigger. “It’s a good incentive having bigger boats in front of you,” he said.
In Bass Strait, competitors reported pods of dolphins egging them on as they leapt through the waves. As the fleet approached Apollo Bay, the grey day was replaced by blue skies, with crews bathed in sunshine. Those who elected to sail back to Melbourne after the race enjoyed a glorious full moon home. It was a perfect end to a hard day on the water.
The final race of the ORCVs summer season each year, the Apollo Bay Race decides the Coastal Championship and the Offshore Championship. The Coastal Championship was decided in favour of John Strahan’s True Colours on a countback with Jeff Sloan’s Archie.
The ORCV Offshore Championship came down to the wire, with Alien (Justin Brenan), Audere (Joshua Thring), Vertigo (Timothy Olding), Vagabond (Andrew McConchie) and newcomer Foggy Dew (Robert D’Arcy), in the running. Alien came out on top in the end.
Top three results:
1. Ryujin (Alex Toomey/Andrew Hibbert)
2. Patriot (Jason Close)
3. Tevake II (Paul Neilson)
2. Alien (Justin Brenan)
3. Bandit (Ashley Trebilcock)
3. Margaret Rintoul V (Damien King)
2. Blue Water Tracks (Grant Dunoon)
3. Spirit of Freya (Joanne Harpur)
Margaret Rintoul V
By Di Pearson/ORCV media