Although the other top two placings are yet to be confirmed, with most of the fleet still at sea racing, two other TP52’s, Peter/Wrigley/Andy Kearnan’s Koa, and Peter Hickson’s M3 from Western Australia, are currently in possession of second and third places overall in the 31st running of the race.
Nine TP52’s entered the annual 384 nautical race, eight finished.
To give an idea as to depth of Ichi Ban’s win, and her performance against the other top TP52s, she finished at 7.05.26pm last evening, over six hours in front of Balance (Paul Clitheroe), with Koa and M3 closely following Balance over the finish line. With their respective handicaps in place, Ichi Ban beat Koa eight minutes short of six hours and M3 by nearly seven hours.
In an email from Paris late last evening (Mike Green is skippering Balance), Paul Clitheroe commented: “What a super race by Ichi Ban. They are good.” He also praised the hard work of his own crew.
This victory is the start of a big couple of months for Allen, the president of Australian Sailing and a past CYCA commodore. Next stop is the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, and then the Sydneysider will return to Australia in time for the Australian IRC Championship at Hamilton Island in late August.
This morning, we spoke to Matt Allen, his sailing master Gordon Maguire, and navigator Jon Drummond. The trio knew they were the favoured TP52 going into the race, as Ichi Ban is the newest of the fleet and lighter than the others. Secret Mens Business was to be her closest competition but retired early with a broken bowsprit.
Matt: The interesting thing about this race is that the bungee cord keeps expanding and contracting – get break, fall into hole – inshore – offshore. A lot of the TP52s had already fallen of the pack early, but Koa, Balance and M3 kept with us. Then we came to Smoky Cape.
(Pictired- Matt Allen, the winning owner of Ichi Ban)
Gordon: It took us three or four breaks before we snapped the cord. It was around Coffs Harbour, just prior to Smoky that we made another break, got away by five miles, but the others were still visible, so we were vulnerable. You falter, and there is a counter move against you. And until Coffs, the counter had been successful.
Jon: We got into Smoky Cape just before sunset. Then it was a matter of being patient and staying with the plan. You had to stick to the pre-race plan. It was hard to stay with it sometimes, because it was ‘our turn, ‘their turn’ a lot of the time.
Matt: It was about creating the plan and sailing to the plan.
Gordon: All three of us discussed the most important part of the race being Smoky Cape to Coffs Harbour. There are a lot of hills and mountains and they create a weak westerly flow at night time. It was a critical time for us, and where we made our break. The race was really won or lost there. We were first in to Smoky/Coffs for a mile or two among the TP52s – they were three to four miles behind.
Gordon: It was definitely advantageous having the other TP competition. They pushed us.
Matt: It makes you sail to a much higher level to have so many TPs which are well sailed.
Gordon: Luck, good fortune does come into play in racing. And that was the good fortune bit for us, staying ahead and missing so many of those rough spots on the course. We moved into freshening northerly winds for a short time. If one of the other TP52s had led us out of Coffs, we would probably never have got them back. It was a case of the rich getting richer.
Gordon: That morning, north of Coffs, there was a nice land breeze coming out. It was great sailing conditions, not for a long time, but for a while we were travelling along at 15-16 knots. The boat is such a good reaching boat, so we consolidated. We got up to 14-15 knots from the west at that point.
Jon: It was a race of gates, Smoky was the first gate, then Coffs, and you had to not go too close to shore, and not too far offshore. Every headland was another gate. Then you try to extend away between each.
Matt: You could see breeze sitting out there, so you had to go back to where you had come from constantly. It was very strange.
Jon: Every time we saw other TP52s going offshore and making gains, we had to say ‘no’ and stick to our own game plan. That was difficult.
Gordon: With this race, we had to be particularly aggressive to get the land breeze at night.
Jon: And as soon as we saw an alteration in breeze, we took action immediately. You couldn’t wait like you normally could in an offshore race.
Gordon: There was no room to think about it, normally you don’t make snap decisions in longer races, but we did not have that luxury.
Matt: We did stop a few times – everyone got caught out on the course at some point. We certainly stopped at Coffs.
Gordon: You were constantly sliding in and out of light patches.
Matt: I can’t recall the race being slower, although there was one where the start was delayed for a couple of days. We saw everything this race, 0 knots lots of times and up to 17 knots, not enough times. Coming to the finish we had 17 knots from the north-west.
Jon: We had plenty of zero wind. You just had to try to keep the boat moving. It was lots of sail changes. The transition off Cape Byron yesterday – I was worried we’d miss that, but we didn’t.
Gordon: The magnitude of what we did only sank in last night. When the bungee cord snapped, it really snapped. We were sailing into more air all the time. It’s very flattering to win the race by nearly six hours, but as anyone in the race will tell you, it’s a weather driven.
Matt: It was a very satisfying win for the whole crew.
All information on the Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race is on the official race website: http://goldcoast.cyca.com.au
Di Pearson, CYCA media