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Howzat! (He implored)

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 3 May 2020 23:00 BST
Howzat indeed... The great Dennis Lillee looking for another scalp. So how is he Ump??? © Photo supplied

Immediate apologies to anyone around the globe who has not been indoctrinated by memories of their childhood years with the shenanigans surrounding a very hard, and reasonably small, red ball. If ocean racing is defined as endless periods of boredom interspersed with moments of sheer terror, then many would argue that test cricket is just the long periods of boredom. Alas, at least the more recent white and pink ball tomfoolery has gone a long way to making the game of cricket far more accessible.

May will be the month of the Lockdown Ashes (or the splASHES) where the old foes, Great Britain and Australia, will face off in a series of Tests to see who will reign supreme in the world of virtual yacht racing. Expect the tracks to be something like Sydney Harbour and Portmouth, with the toss of the coin to see which team gets first dibs at a home regatta, and quite a spectacle too! If the coverage of the Lockdown Cup proved to be a success, then this could well go to next level type of stuff.

Stay tuned, which seems kind of ironic, given your sensational patronage of the and sites and group is somewhat stratospheric of late... At any rate, from our Managing Editor, Mark Jardine, all the way down to our scribes, may we say thank you, and we're delighted you're getting so much from your repeated visitations. So yes, Howzat!!! (Which for those from the non-cricketing nations is a cry of appeal from the fielding team for the umpire to send a batsman back to the pavilion.)

How's this then?!

Iain Murray AM has been appointed to run AC36, after being very heavily involved both on shore and on the water with AC34 and 35. From here on in it will be pretty full on, with early 2021 quite the time, indeed. 'The Big Fella' has an impressive 14 World Championships in everything from 18s to 12s, including two from the Etchells (over 30 years apart BTW), in a career spanning many decades. Then there are wins in offshore classics, like the Hobart, to demonstrate his all-round capabilities.

Yet quite possibly it is the high regard in which he is held as a yachtsman, an administrator, and designer that is most enduring. Murray said to me after the announcement, "The opportunity has arisen, and the timing has opened up. I'm privileged to be asked back, and use the skills from San Francisco and Bermuda. It's nice to return to an old battle ground..."

Tip your hat

Winning the Etchells World Championship in 2019 in Texas, with Richie Allanson, and another living legend, Colin Beashel, was a sweet moment for Murray. He and Allanson had been hard at work over two years looking at every single component on the vessel inside this strict One Design Class. That first Allanson/Murray Etchells stayed behind with the her new owner being the Class President, and the pair set about building the 18 vessels they now had on order.

Speaking of the Class, and the revered AM Etchells, Allanson said, "I reckon we are set for a relaunch of the Etchells Class, as we will be one of, if not the first, OD fleet back out racing competitively here in Australia. Sailors recognise what a good class this is, with both the racing and the people involved both top notch. The camaraderie is spectacular, and you get to mix with all the best and legends of our sport. It is the best racing in Australia, if not the world!"

"This pandemic has been quite a bump in the road. Maybe with sailing having been taken away our appetite has been wetted once more. You just don't know what you've got 'til it is gone."

Allanson added, "Fortunately for us we have been able to keep rolling along, with the hulls being built as quickly as they can be. We just launched AUS 1483, with 1484 launched as this editorial goes to air. Matt Stenta and I go for a test sail as part of the commissioning process, and then hand the vessel over. This complies with local (NSW) social distancing protocols."

"The hull for 1486 is nearing completion, so we'll jump on that soon enough." The first new Magpie (1472) remains in the USA where it was second at the Worlds, and has won events down in Miami before COVID-19 arrived. The second hull, 1474 won the Australian Championship in January at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club. BTW it looks like this club will be running the annual Sail Melbourne event, which for this season will be in early January, 2021.

Back to the Etchells, and Allanson added, "Hull 1485 is due in May from the UK. The team bought a Heritage hull, as they did not want to wait until 2021 for one of ours. We are going to fit it out, and this is a perfect example of how well a controlled OD fleet can operate. Equally, 1082 has just had a birthday and is now getting re-fitted to the latest layout and thinking."

"1487 is just out of mould, and 1488 was laid up just last week. All of it means Allanson/Murray are working towards all planned deliveries ahead of the Perth Worlds, which are presently slated for November, 2020. Will they be delayed for 12 months, ala Olympics, or is it all still up for grabs?

It's a winner!

No secret that ever since it was thrown into the mix that we have loved the mixed, two person offshore event for Paris and hopefully, beyond... Evidently, we were not the only ones, and now the race is on to identify the correct vessel earlier than originally stated, so that teams can prepare and budgets can be allocated. Like many things, the race before the race is pretty interesting.

Not surprising to see two more immensely qualified individuals step up on board for a crack at Olympic glory, no mater what their age. Recently, Adrienne Cahalan and Nick Moloney announced their campaign, but it will be Euro-centric given the current challenges and the fact that Nick is based in the UK right now. Short-handed sailing may get up for Summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and there could well be a lot of aspiring crews getting into that. We'll see.

Australia's first campaigners are Jade Cole and Ian 'Barney' Walker. Cole commented after, "It is nice to see others join the fray. The more people on board, the better. The more interest there is into this segment means we can all better, and then get Australia onto the podium. It is good for sailing and sailors, and wonderful to have more and more teams come out of the woodwork. So lets get more people into this boat class, as it is not just about Paris, and they will be around for a while."

Lee Condell from Performance Boating is no stranger to short-handed yachting himself, and said of it all, "Jeanneau and the Australian dealer network are excited at the prospect of the SunFast 3300 being chosen as the yacht to be used for the first Olympic mixed two-handed offshore event. Since its announcement this event has attracted considerable interest for those older sailors who would not otherwise be able to represent their country in Olympic Sailing."

"We are working with Jeanneau to try and best facilitate the existing prospective Australian campaigns, and there are several others in the pipeline. Though multiple boat designs have been put forward to be chosen, most of them will not have the capacity to produce the required number of strictly controlled boats in the limited time-frame, whereas Jeanneau is well placed to do so, and with a design that lends itself perfectly to the event."

Another kind of 30 something

Been writing a bit about the 30s lately, and had a great chat with Graham Raspass of Flagstaff Marine about the Beneteau Oceanis 35.1 you see here. "We have one on a ship now, and it will be here this month. Our client is a previous boat owner, and had his vessels in charter fleets. Having recently acquired a waterfront property on Pittwater, he was keen to get out on the water once more, and is looking forward to doing twilights in October when we're all racing again."

"However, the low datum point for the water at the end of his jetty is just 0.8m. He was looking at smaller boats with swing keels, and was presently surprised by the beaching capability of the Oceanis 35.1 with the swing keel, purposely designed for European conditions."

"With its keel box and twin rudders, she can sit upright, which is handy as the mast would have protruded into the navigable waterway out front. Minimum draft is actually 1.23m with the keel raised, but as you see, she'll sit in the mud or sand, with the swim ladder used as the boarding platform. Therefore, the owner was pleasantly surprised that he could have a larger boat than he thought he might be able to own and operate before coming to see us," conclude Raspass.

Right oh - there is plenty of information on the site for you to review when you can. Please avail yourself of it.

Now if your class or association is generating material, we can help you spread your word just by emailing us. Got this newsletter from a friend? Would you like your own copy next week? Just follow the instructions on our newsletter page. Whilst there, you can also register for other editions, like Powerboat-World.

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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