Matt Allen has sailed his Carkeek 60, Ichi Ban, took line and overall honours in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Cabbage Tree Island Race, missing the race record by just over one hour, courtesy of the superb conditions the fleet sailed in.
The race start, originally laid down for Friday evening at 7pm, was delayed till 10am the following morning due to gale force warnings.
Although the 15-hour delay could have put a damper on competitors, the reverse was true, with ideal running and sprung sheet conditions proving just the tonic, even though the smaller boats were at the mercy of lightening conditions late last night and this morning.
Ichi Ban took line honours at 11:23:10 hours last evening, in the time of 13 hours, 23 minutes 10 seconds. The 60 footer finished only one hour 7mins 15secs short of the record set by Wild Oats XI in the 2012 race, of 12 hours 15mins 55secs. Chinese Whisper followed half an hour later.
Matt Allen and his crew also sailed claimed a massive 44 minute overall victory from Darryl Hodgkinson’s Cookson 50 Victoire, with Paul Clitheroe’s TP52, Balance, taking third place. Ichi Ban also won PHS overall from Patrice and Victoire, the latter winning ORCi from Balance and Sam Haynes’ TP52, Celestial.
“It was quite surprising really, because when we were at Cabbage Tree, the bulk of the fleet had compacted considerably in good winds, but as they say, ‘never tear up your ticket’,” Allen said this afternoon.
“It was good, powerful sailing, just the conditions the boat was built for,” said Allen, who is an overall contender for the upcoming Rolex Sydney Hobart; although he is tight-lipped as to whether he will take the Carkeek 60 or his TP52 of the same name.
Allen said Ichi Ban had passed Chinese Whisper in the Harbour and at times the JV62 was abeam of them.
“I think we sailed the boat well and made the right sail choices at the right time. Going up to the Island was quite tactical. You had to choose whether to sail high, or low, and then choose your sails carefully, as none were quite right for the angles we had to sail. It was a fascinating tactical duel,” he said, adding, “I think the Club did the right thing starting the race yesterday morning.”
Aboard Patrice, owner Tony Kirby agreed. “Everyone was tired after work on Friday night, especially after a day when the temperature got into the 40’s,” he said.
“We were very happy to see the delay, even more when the conditions were perfect going to the Island. Nice south-easterly winds all the way up – anything from 20 knots up to 26 knots,” said Kirby who watched the front end of the race unfold in front of his Ker 46 around noon.
At that stage, Ichi Ban, was leading Chinese Whisper a merry dance all the way up north and back to the finish.
Aboard Brindabella, Brad Kellett was pondering the outcome of the two leaders and enjoying the running conditions provided by the south-easterly breeze.
“We had a nice reach out of the Harbour and settled in for the run to Cabbage Tree. Off Newcastle the battle was still raging between Ichi Ban and Chinese Whisper and we’re around 8-10 miles behind, belting north as fast as we can,” Kellett said ahead of Brindabella rounding the Island at around 5.25pm.
“Behind them were Balance, Celestial, Victoire, Patrice, Pretty Fly, Triton, Frantic, and then us. We’re very happy with the conditions and our race,” said Kellett, who eventually finished sixth on line aboard Jim Cooney’s maxi.
On one of the smaller and older boats in the fleet, Wild Rose, navigator Jenifer Wells said they were reveling in the conditions heading north: “Just glorious, fantastic sailing,” she said at 11.35am yesterday.
“We saw 26 knots at one stage, though generally it’s been 20-24 knots. And spinnakers have added some nice colour to a dull-looking day.”
Early this morning Wells reported, “The wind shifted 10 degrees further to the east and dropped throughout the night, but we’ve had pleasant conditions. Probably not our race, but we are happy – Hicko (Roger Hickman) is relaxed on the wheel and has even started singing!”
She was right, Wild Rose finished eighth overall and lost her Blue Water Pointscore lead to Balance, with Chinese Whisper maintaining second place overall, Wild Rose third, Patrice fourth and Victoire fifth. Just six points separates the top five boats with two races remaining.
The 180 nautical mile race to the Island, which sits off Port Stephens on the Central Coast, was Race 4 of the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore (BWPS) and was also a qualifier for the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart.
Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, said the 31-boat fleet was away on time and reached out of Sydney Heads quickly. “Even Quikpoint Azzurro (Shane Kearns’ 10.1 metre 34 year-old yacht) looked to be doing around 8 knots,” he said.
In fact it was Quikpoint Azzurro that brought the race to an end when she finished at 13:21:49 hours today, for 21st place overall.
Race 5 of the Blue Water Pointscore is the Bird Island Race starting at 10am on Saturday 5 December.
For full race results of the Cabbage Tree Island Race and provisional Blue Water Point Score standings log on to: http://www.cyca.com.au/racing/entrants-results/
By Di Pearson, CYCA Media