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Not the Golden Arches

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 19 May 23:00 BST
Shearwater: 57-foot performance cruiser built by McConaghy © Andrea Francolini

Although you can eat there if you so choose. Your call. Our call today, is to talk about the other Maccas. The one with the truly enviable reputation, and the one that is good for you, builds vessels with a strong constitution, and has a list of achievements and accomplishments as long as some of the large, iconic craft they have created.

John may have left the business some time ago now, but the company that carries his name, McConaghy, still has many of the same team from back in the Mona Vale days. So up a fairly innocuous side street in Gosford, this crew of super talented craftsmen has just seen yet another one of their fold return for some more love.

Black Jack, born as Alfa Romeo II in 2005, arrived on a truck, sunny side down, and tad shorter, at say something more like 93 feet, courtesy of a butt lift. Like her slightly younger and near sister ship, Wild Oats XI, she's also going to have some rhinoplasty, but nothing quite as dramatic and drastic as what the silver arrow underwent.

Eric Desjardins, who manages the Australian operations, and the crew at the Gosford 'Maccas' have welcomed her back wholesomely. Desjardins commented, "Black Jack was the first boat to enter our upgraded Gosford premises in April 2017, and the first to come out of it! She will also have the first prepreg hull to be cured in our Gosford facility. This is a great milestone to reflect on all the work the team at McConaghy has done over the last two years to get back to our full production capabilities. Project Foreman, Ben Falconer, has tirelessly lead a team of talented shipwrights to keep the programme to the very strict schedule."

Indeed a lot of team there are from her original build, way back in the previous decade, like Tony Johnson. The Project Manager, Lachlan Torrance, co-ordinated her engineering at the Reichel-Pugh office in San Diego, back in the design phase. He joined McConaghy this year in the design and management team.

So she is certainly known to her clan, and as we have seen after she had a quick birthday on returning to Australia once more in 2017, very much loved by the artisans who gave her life, and courtesy of Peter Harburg, are now giving her yet more legs to go on from here. Desjardins said, "We are very excited with this new challenge, and grateful to Peter Harburg and Team Black Jack to trust McConaghy with such an undertaking."

Black Jack is also having some new North Sails prepared for her under the guidance of Mark Bradford and Vaughan Prentice from the Brisbane loft, mainly for the more expansive area ahead of the stick. Yet it is not all about supermaxis, for North Sails and their team are well busy in the mini maxis, too. The R/P 63, presently known as Voodoo, which was built as Limit by Mal Hart and co on the Mornington Peninsula a while back, has just changed hands. The cool, calm, and collected David Allen is continuing on with her as Sailing Master.

Allen began his working career as a sail maker, and competed in two Volvos amongst other things, before later retraining as an architect. Back in 1993 he first met the new owner, when he was the principal helmsman on Prime Example in the infamous Westcoaster. Ian 'Barney' Walker is also part of the crew.

The Manager of North Sails' Melbourne loft, Aaron Cole, is going to be amongst it as well. Cole said, "Yes, David is a great North Sails customer, and our plans are to help and support him as best we can. I'd like to see if we can't go two better whilst we're at it!" Cole is of course referring to the Sydney Hobart race, which he is very keen to win, and will be lining up for his 18th tilt at it, later on in the year. Last year Voodoo was well into it, but just could not climb over the top of the two 66-footers that got home ahead of them. Alive ended up collecting the coveted Tattersall's Cup, out of that particular battle.

North Sails Australian supremo, and über-qualified sailing master, Michael Coxon, is going back to sea on the newly acquired, J/V62 built in 2011 by Green Marine, Chinese Whisper. Coxon's great friend, David Griffith, is running the boat, and Rupert Henry retains a strong interest. Coxon commented, "Griffo has recently retired from work. He's sailed all his life, in 12 and 18-foot skiffs, as well as Etchells. A while back he wanted to sail in all the fun places, with a lot of friends on board, so purchased a delightful Marten 49. Only things was, he's such a competitive guy, and realised he still wanted to go fast. So here we are."

The extremely qualified Tom Braidwood is going to be the crew boss, so his phone is going to be ringing even more now that the word is out. Also on the team as Boat Captain is the highly regarded Andrew 'Spot' Smith. The boat will have a mix of talent on board, which they are all looking forward to.

As for Coxon himself, he said, "I'm going to take my most junior trainee out there. He's such a good sailor, and so keen. Nathan McNamara might be only 18 years of age, but he's going to get me imparting my knowledge to him, from marrying sails to rigs, to servicing, and he'll take ownership of managing the boat's wardrobe." Lucky Nathan...

Tacking! Actually I think it is more like racing on a different course, as such. Now the 12s pretty much go back to the era when the original hamburger Maccas was getting going. They finished in the late 80s in Fremantle, by which time they were very different from the ones that swanned around from the very late 50s and onwards, and sail tech had not made it to 3Di yet, so the number of tacks were counted very closely. The romance, elegance, and appeal may have wandered off for a while, but over the last decade it has been truly marvellous to see them return to favour, and how! After all, nothing goes to windward quite like a 12.

Yes there is plenty of love floating around for metre boats of all descriptions, but one that has been sold just recently was considered to be a bit of flyer in the day, but could not hold it all together for long enough to make a real impact, so went home again, after having often beaten up many of her more fancied rivals. She is Steak n Kidney (KA-14), and will soon be undergoing a full restoration and refurbishment, for she is well tired right now.

That means she is very unlikely to make the intergalactic conflagration in Newport, R.I. from the Ada Lewis YC in July this year, but it seems that many, many other twelves are intending to show up. However, here's the inside track! Should you choose, you can make it one more closer to 30, by purchasing the all ready to go, fully schmicked up, Australia (KA-5), from the citrus farmer on the Murray River that presently owns her, and until recently, KA-14 as well.

Yes the Bond camp spent the 70s honing their approach, and craft with the late Ben Lexcen. Australia had a crack at Courageous, then Freedom, back in 1977 and 1980 respectively, with the latter seeing her match Gretel and Gretel IIs efforts at taking a race off the Defenders. Now if you want to take KA-5 off her owner's hands, then please contact her representative, Leigh Dorrington on +61 411 733 219. 'Dorro' sailed on KA-14 at the time, and has more than a good story to tell about the boats, the era, the characters, and the ensuing time since all that. What a guy... He'd be brilliant on your table at the gala dinner for the 2019 Worlds!

Right oh here today there are some gems for you to review. As you can see, Kim Andersen was in Australia briefly, just a few days ago. This is ahead of the mid-year World Sailing meeting, and Australian Sailing's Mick Martin has urged you to give your feedback to them, which you can catch up on in this article. We also have information about the Olympic classes in Europe, the IMOCAs in the North Atlantic, The Ocean Race, Superyachts in Palma and Capri, SailGP, the Yacht Racing Forum, The Transpac and their record fleet, the Clipper, and certainly there is much, much more.

Remember, if your class or association is generating material, make sure we help you spread your word, and you can do that by emailing us. Should you have been forwarded this email by a friend, and want to get your very own copy in your inbox moving forward, then simply follow the instructions on our newsletter page, where you can also register for different editions.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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