Kraken III triumphs and Andoo Comanche bests its own record in 2023 Tollgate Islands Race

In Scandinavian folklore, the mythical kraken is a giant squid-like cephalopod creature that could destroy ships and drag sailors to their doom. An apt name for a racing yacht that bested 21 other entrants in the third race of the 2023/24 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore this weekend.

In the 260 nautical mile 2023 Tollgate Islands Race, Rob Gough and John Saul showed all their versatility and tactical skills to take Overall IRC honours in their Jeanneau Sunfast 3300 Kraken III against a highly competitive fleet of both fully-crewed and two-handed teams.

As the only interstate entry, the two Tasmanians representing the Derwent Sailing Squadron in Hobart may not have had as much experience in the coastal waters between Sydney and Batemans Bay as other competitors but are highly experienced two-handed practitioners who have formed a solid bond sailing together over the years. Perhaps best remembered for winning Two-Handed Line Honours on their Marc Lombard designed Akilaria RC2 Sidewinder in the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart, both of Kraken III’s owners have competed in several Hobarts and Rob is a former windsurfing and Moth World Champion.

From the start on Sydney Harbour at 1900hrs on Friday, the pair looked strong as they pushed down the eastern shore in a battle with another Sunfast 3300 Tumbleweed to be one of the first of the eleven two-handed boats out the Heads. From there, they were always in contention – their greatest concern only whether they could maintain a highly-placed finish Overall as others succumbed to the vagaries of the inconsistent and weakening breeze.

They were the eighth boat across the line in Watsons Bay after Andoo Comanche, URM GroupSmuggler, Sticky, Highly Sprung, Lightning and White Noise – arriving at 0514hrs on Sunday for a corrected time of 01:10:55:26, bettering the 100-footer Andoo Comanche’s time by almost an hour.

After the race, John Saul was delighted with their win:

“The Sunfast 3300 is perfect in these conditions. She’s a small, well-balanced boat that loves hard driving and fast, beam reaching. Rob drove it like he stole it. 

“We’re really looking forward to coming back for the Rolex Sydney Hobart and the lead-up races. The two-handers are a great group to be part of. Everyone’s friendly, helpful and supportive, and we can laugh at our misadventures. It’s always pretty close racing.”

John ‘Herman’ Winning Jr and the crew of Andoo Comanche took Line Honours in a time of 17 hours, 31 minutes, 30 seconds – and by doing so, shaved several hours off their own race record set in the inaugural 2022 race (20:16:49).

The 100-foot VPLP/Verdier 100 maxi averaged 14.7kts over the 260nm course finishing just after 1231hrs on Saturday.

Andoo Comanche again proved her abilities in lighter conditions against boats of all shapes and sizes by placing second to Kraken III on IRC Overall as well as under PHS.

Third-placed boat under IRC Overall was Jules Hall’s Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth which for this outing, was racing fully-crewed with a team of CYCA’s Youth Sailing Academy sailors. Jules, who won the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Two-Handed IRC division when paired with Jan Scholten on the J/99, also recently competed two-handed in the 2023 Rolex Fastnet Race.

Third-placed PHS boat was Jason Bond’s Beneteau First 47.7 Enigma.

DIVISIONAL RESULTS

IRC Overall
1st – Kraken III (TH)
2nd – Andoo Comanche
3rd – Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth

IRC Division 1
1st – Andoo Comanche
2nd – Lightning 
3rd – Smuggler

IRC Division 2
1st – Kraken III (TH)
2nd – Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth
3rd –  Rum Rebellion (TH)

IRC Corinthian
1st – Supernova
2nd – Blue Planet (TH)
3rd – Rum Rebellion

Wild Rose IRC
1st – Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth
2nd – Mondo
3rd – Wild Oats

PHS
1st – Kraken III (TH)
2nd – Andoo Comanche
3rd – Enigma

The 2023 Tollgate Islands Race was a solid hit-out for competitors and an opportunity to test crews and set-ups ahead of the final three races in the 2023/24 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore. The upcoming fourth race will be the 83nm Bird Island Race to be held on Saturday 11 November; the penultimate fifth race, the 172nm Cabbage Tree Island Race starting on Friday evening 1 December. This race also doubles as the opening passage race for the 2023 Australian Maxi Championship for eligible boats over 60-feet in length.

The final race in the Pointscore is the 78th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race which will start on Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day, Tuesday 26 December.


Photos: CYCA Media

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