Southern Black Magic heading to Festival of Sails

Graham Mansfield’s Black Magic will be much harder to pick amongst the cruising with spinnaker fleet at next January’s Festival of Sails. A bingle with a fishing boat at Easter brought the Ed Dubois design out of the water for repairs, at which point Mansfield decided it was a good time to redo the whole kit and caboodle.

Black Magic was black and is now disguised in white. “Sometimes I have to convince people it’s the same boat… they say it looks like a bigger boat in white,” laughs the owner, who is the current Commodore of Bellerive Yacht Club in Hobart and one of the early registered interstate entries for the Festival spanning January 17-26, 2015 at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club.

The new paint job was the final stage of a total refurbishment. Prior to the new white coat the boat was stripped right back inside and out, sanded then repainted, and the mast revamped.

Black Magic is a Dubois 40 built in the early 1980s in Victoria for a Sandringham Yacht Club member who had ambitions of qualifying for the Admiral’s Cup Australian team. The boat missed the cut and sailed for Ireland instead.

Mansfield has owned Black Magic for a decade and actively races it inshore and offshore. “No point having a boat if you don’t use it,” says the now retired cricketer and very hard working sailor.

Mansfield played professional cricket for Tasmania in the mid-1970s and coached the state’s Sheffield Shield side. He became state director of coaching and finally worked for the drug education department where he looked after the area of sporting clubs and the responsible service of alcohol.

Sailing and cricket went hand-in-hand. Mansfield started sailing early on in Rainbows and heavy weight Sharpies, and then during his professional cricket days he owned trailable boats. Later in his career he bought a cruising Van Der Stat 38 and finally, Black Magic.

The crew had such a great time at Geelong last January their skipper decided to re-enter the popular cruising with spinnaker division. “I’ve found the regatta fantastic. Everyone seems to get on; you can sit down in the club and strike up a conversation with crews from all divisions, not just other cruisers. It offers something different to what we are used to, in fact we’ve taken ideas from Geelong and made them part of our Crown Series in Hobart, which is drawing 120 keelboats.”

Black Magic has logged many Launceston to Hobart and Sydney to Hobart races. It’s a sold ocean-going campaigner crewed mostly by friends; some of those have been with Mansfield for the past decade. “The Festival creates a fair bit of interest back here [in Hobart],” he says. “There’s never a shortage of people putting their hand up to race. It’s harder finding people for the 1,000 mile delivery there and back of course…”

Black Magic finished in the top ten in its division at the 2014 edition of Victoria’s oldest sporting trophy. “We were very happy though we are looking to do better next year,” Mansfield hopes. “It’s a case of getting used to different conditions. The regatta is non-stop; there’s not much of a chance to pause and have a rethink.”

Racing for most divisions commences Friday January 23, 2015 with the traditional Melbourne to Geelong passage race, and continues over the weekend through to the Monday public holiday for Australia Day, a major Festival draw card that brings the peak of the weekend’s estimated 100,000 visitors to the foreshore.

So far an all-Victorian line up, bar Black Magic, has weighed the cruising entry list towards the host state. Whilst Beneteaus feature heavily just under three months out from the first race, Belle, the stunning Lyons 60 with a new owner and now racing for Sandringham Yacht Club, is already odds-on favourite to take be declared belle of the ball.

To assist with planning organisers at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club encourage early entry and to sweeten the deal there’s a major prize draw for owners who submit paperwork by midnight on Sunday November 30 – a magnificent getaway for two to tropical Fiji including flights and five nights’ accommodation at the Shangri-La Fiji.

The multihulls open the show with their national titles and the bulk join the fray starting with the traditional Melbourne to Geelong passage race on Friday 23 January.

For more information head to Festival of Sails.

– Lisa Ratcliff – Festival of Sails Media

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