What an amazing few months it's been since I last posted. I have successfully moved to Sydney, started training as part of the Youth Sailing Academy at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, been invited to join a number of successful racing teams in big boats and last Friday I was named the Victorian Youth Sailor of the Year 2019.
After living away from Victoria for the past 16 months I had low expectations on my chances of taking the award, especially given the quality of the other finalists. I have always believed that ultimate success is a team effort requiring many people behind the scenes to make it all work and I wish to thank all those who have been such an important part of My Journey, especially the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria for nominating me in the first place.
In my last post I promised to provide an update on the boats that I am racing on in Sydney with a bit of background on my role on-board. My primary focus for this year is on learning and developing my ‘big boat’ sailing skills. All my previous sailing has been on dinghies, skiffs, foiling catamarans, small yachts but rather limited experience on yachts beyond 35ft.
ELLIOTT 7 (Youth Sailing Academy)
Fleets of Elliott 7 are currently used by several yacht clubs for their match racing programmes. The Elliott 7 is the yacht of choice for the prestigious Youth Development and Keel Boat programmes at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. Graduates of these programmes are currently found in just about every international sailing event throughout the world.
A match race consists of two identical boats racing against each other. This is a one-on-one duel of strategy and tactics and the objective is simple – to be the first to cross the finish line. I spent a considerable amount of time over the past 12 months learning the skills necessary to race in this class and have been fortunate to compete both in Australia and overseas at a number of Internationally-ranked events.
I look forward to continuing to improve my individual skills and hopefully secure some more podium finishes in the higher ranked match racing regattas, after success at the New Zealand Youth National Championships in December 2018.
KARKEEK 40 (Victoire)
Based out of the CYCA, this yacht is the 3rd bearing the name Victoire. Recently imported from the USA, it is the latest platform for owner Dr. Darryl Hodgkinson to race. A super-fast 40-footer, the deck layout is very similar to that of current TP52s, with systems optimised to be as light as possible. In common with other contemporary grand prix boats configured for inshore racing, these boats are generally quite wet boats inside and out. Victoire is a fantastic boat to race on, especially when the breeze is up, and the perfect platform to step into TP52s in the near future.
On Victoire I am developing in the role of primary sail trimmer. Trimmers at a high level spend years perfecting their understanding of the wind relative to the sails. Often, they are trimming the sheets only fractions of inches/cm at a time. A sail trimmer is expected to fully understand aerodynamic lift on the sail.
Observing the sail shape, and what is fastest for certain wind and sea states comes with experience.
Often referred to as the 'Formula One' of class racing, TP52's have become the de-facto top monohull inshore race class in the world appealing to the very top-level professional sailors, discerning owners and teams. The all carbon fibre boats with powerful sail areas and deep slender keels remain very close in performance. They are light, have a high power to weight ratio and most of all offer exceptional fun for the crews who enjoy the physical and mental challenge of the 52’s. Downwind in stronger breezes they will regularly get speeds over 20kts.
The tight controls imposed by the design rules ‘box’ allow sufficient freedom for the different designers to express their ideas, yet the fleet has remained very closely matched. Over 60 have been built and the purity of racing is in real time - first past the line wins.
I am extremely fortunate to have received an invitation to join the Zen team for the Airlie Beach Race Week and Hamilton Island Race Week in August and will be happy to fill any role given on this outstanding race boat.
FARR 40 (Zen)
Farr 40 sailing is a contest between evenly matched 40-foot racing boats, helmed by their skilled and competitive amateur owners and guided by world-renowned tacticians. Recently, the Australian class celebrated twenty years of international sailing. The class attracts yachting luminaries such as Tom Slingsby, Malcolm Page, Mathew Belcher, Nathan Outteridge & Nina Curtis – all successful competitors in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Zen is owned by immediate Past President Gordon Ketelbey, who has extensive experience in Sydney 38s, Farr 40s and more recently the super-fast TP52 by the same name. I have been asked to join the program as part of the preparation leading into next year's World Championships, returning to Australian shores and bringing some of the world's best sailors Down Under. The Rolex Farr 40 Worlds is hosted by a different country each year, a measure of the international status of this Class. Boats in the Farr 40 Class must meet strict One Design criteria so that all boats follow a specific design with very minimal amendments allowed.
SYDNEY 38 (The GOAT)
The Sydney 38 One Design is best known for offering one-design racing around the buoys although The Goat has also proven itself in some of the most challenging offshore races and is arguably one of the most successful yachts in its class. Designed to race under its strict one-design class rules the Sydney 38OD delivers exhilarating racing in a close competitive environment with a strong, well established fleet in Australia. Used as a steppingstone for many aspiring skippers and crew, some of the most successful Sydney 38 teams have moved up into larger one design or 'box rule' classes such as the Farr 40 and TP52s.
I have been invited to compete in the prestigious Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Race in just over one month's time on board The Goat and welcome the opportunity to increase my ocean miles with such an experienced and successful crew. While not in the same speed category as some of the other bigger yachts, I look forward to competing in this competitive class and heading North for the winter.