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Not a 205 T16

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail World AUS 8 Oct 2023 22:00 BST
Fire breathing Group B legend - Peugeot 205 T16 © Peugeot

As that would be the homologation special. There was a LOT to like about it, too. Mid-engined, all wheel drive, and in full Group B spec, F1 (then) levels of ponies due to being brutally force fed. No replacement for displacement, except for boost, and in that era there were absolute lashings off it. Right up close to melt the pistons into the wall, and just shy of throw a rod through the crankcase. That was definitely the ticket. Just add bulbous flares and outrageous wings...

Tame? No. Actually, they were monstrous, and following just a few too many accidents it was all over, almost as swiftly as it all began after Audi got AWD allowed to commence the era of the fire breathing dragons. Hilariously, today's rally cars are faster point to point, for they hold greater cornering speed due to a heap of tech, like computer controlled torque splitting. Safer? Yes. As much fun? No. No way.

So all of that is wonderful, but from whence did it cometh in relation to an editorial on Sail-World? Well it was Peugeot's 205 GTI. Vee Dub might have kicked it all off with the Mark I Golf, but they forgot to trademark GTI. Doh. Soon, any self-respecting manufacturer had to have a hot hatch with three little letters. In Europe, the 205 GTI 1.6 was a riot. Looked snappy, had the road skills to match, a French interior to set it apart, and the acceptable price tag. Great fun. Loved every minute. Thanks for the memories.

Alas, we did not get them here in Oz. Not initially anyway. Years later the 205 GTI 1.9 made it Down Under, but something was lost in translation. The trip over the equator had not gone well, and let's face it, time is the mortal enemy of just about everything. The world had moved on, and the little Pug just did not have a niche anymore.

Don't see it? Well ponder that Hyundai was making cars by then, and I bet no one saw an I30 N coming a few decades later? At that stage, would you have thought Benz would be doing the A45? Let alone a Toyota the size of thimble being held in the same regard as the Sport Quattro, Delta Integrale, Escort RS, and a Lancer Evo VI? No. I don't think so...

So if you take all of that, and consider all the great ocean races; Fastnet, Middle Sea, Caribbean 600, TransPac, and Sydney-Hobart, you realise that they are all so very different, and yet the allure is surprisingly so similar. The other thing that becomes apparent, especially in light of all of the above, is just how crucial timing is. The right crew and the right boat in the right location is just part of the mix.

You still need to master the intrinsic difficulties of each, such as the delights of tide, traffic separation schemes and transitions through weather systems. As I write I can remember so well how different the Caribbean is to the Med, the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea, as well of course, the Coral Sea to good old Bass Strait.

We applaud those who take them on, as just like the roll call of famous rally legends, names like Teasing Machine, Caro, and Sunrise pop into mind so swiftly. And that is just of recent times. The first two are back for another crack at the Southern Mistress, so bravery and determination exist in spades.

Charles Devanneaux is on the way with a fully tricked out Beneteau First 44, to make a statement about the French maker's intent in the space once more. Yes trainspotters, that certainly played into the 205 theme...

There is also a Dehler 30OD from New Zealand racing in the Two-Handed division. This most exciting and collaborative of divisions is doing a lot to see how much they can have charter boats available to owners from other parts of the world who wish to come and see for themselves, no matter which way across the equator that may be, or what line of longitude you have to cross to make it so.

We salute you sailors. Rums all round.

And so with all of that we can officially say, Sail-World's coverage of the Sydney to Hobart has begun. As usual, we will have Bow Caddy Media along as part of the expanded team. Many thanks in advance to Cros, Dale, Wendi, and Jake.

OK. There it is. There is so much more on the group's sites for you. Simply use the search field, or 'edition' pull-down menu up the top on the right of the masthead to find it all. Please enjoy your yachting, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into

John Curnow
Editor, Sail World AUS

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