MICHAEL Martin wasn’t the quickest Wallaby of all time, nor is his yacht Frantic the fastest TP52 running around, but both are tough enough to be effective in their own way.
The Newcastle-registered yacht secured a record-breaking line-honours victory in the recent Category 1 Sydney Noumea Yacht Race, riding the sou’east trade-wind conveyor for most of the four days, two hours and 23 minutes spent between the start and finish lines.
That’s a whopping one day, 19 hours and 12 minutes faster than the previous race record set in 1991 by pocket maxi Brindabella – a yacht 13 feet longer in length – and it added to Frantic’s success in a Lord Howe race some years ago.
Martin, a roofer by trade, is arguably the ‘island king’ in his spare time.
The weather window for the first Sydney Noumea race in 25 years set up a dream run after being delayed for a day by gale conditions and the container spillage.
A downhill reaching and running race suited the slick TP52, although it was neck-and-neck with the leading group until the last afternoon.
“We had some of the best downhill sailing we’ve ever had … it’s why we sail,” Martin said once berthed at Port Moselle. “When the breeze got up to 25-30 knots we just smoked.
“But every time we set a spinnaker you had to go and see the bank manager … we blew up a fractional code zero and a kite, but it was worth it.”
Another Newcastle entry, Sibby Ilzhofer’s Farr 47 Dare Devil, arrived on the Friday morning ahead of well-performed production yachts Wings and Kayimai after a wet and wild ride.
“We had that much water over the deck, it didn’t matter what we shut ... tonnes and tonnes of water got inside the boat,” Ilzhofer said. “We are wet to the bone and had to sleep saturated most of the race.”
Dare Devil will now bravely line up for part two of their Coral Sea adventure, joining the sixth edition of the Groupama Race around New Caledonia starting Sunday.
Michael Graham’s Swan 43 Santana from Lake Macquarie Yacht Club was officially the last yacht to complete the 1064 nautical mile course, just over a week after leaving Sydney Harbour.
Second across the finish line was GBP Yeah Baby, owned by twins Marc and Louis Ryckmans. The historical advantage favoured the Welbourn 50 over Frantic but destroying a key sail within the first four hours proved costly.
“We were excited to see Frantic on day three and have a dosey-doe with them to the finish,” helmsman Lindsay Stead said. “But congratulations to Frantic … they did an awesome job.”
Third to cross was Smuggler, Sebastian Bohm’s Rogers 46, which would later be declared the overall IRC winner. Conditions also proved ideal for the lightweight yacht and high calibre crew.
“We were surfing waves and sitting on 14 knots constantly,” said Bohm.
“Our navigator David Van Der Wende made some great tactical decisions and got us as far east as we could, anticipating the big sou’easter coming in, and that set us up for a nice angle straight to Noumea.”
On Smuggler’s IRC honours Bohm added: “Everyone’s ecstatic. We don’t have the biggest budget, we just know it’s a really good boat and we want to show everyone it can win races.”
They eclipsed GBP Yeah Baby and Tony Kirby’s Patrice for the minor handicap placings.
WHITTLEY’S Fleetmaster 23 and Fleetmaster 26 will make their public debut at the Melbourne Boat Show from June 28 to July 1 before heading to the Sydney International Boat Show in early August.
The 23 is a soft-top sportscruiser with a double berth, galley and toilet for overnighting. A large moulded rear platform also makes it perfect for watersports and fishing. Package price with a Mackay trailer and Volvo Penta V6 200 engine is $99,990.
The Fleetmaster 26, meanwhile, has a hard top with sliding cabin door, accommodating up to four people for a weekend afloat. With the same motor and a trailer, it’s $149,990.
EXTREME OFFSHORE ARRIVES
YAMAHA’S latest outboard offering sports a thumping big V8 under its hood, churning out 425 horsepower from a 5.6-litre naturally-aspirated block.
Called the XTO, or Extreme Offshore, it was designed specifically to drive bigger boats via a special, large-diameter propeller engineered for maximum thrust. Direction injection improves fuel economy while ensuring “the highest compression ratio of any outboard”.
All this, without requiring hydraulic or electric pumps – an industry first, according to Yamaha. Instead, you get ‘steer by wire’ helm and ‘drive by wire’ throttle systems, along with an updated multifunction touchscreen display and Helm Master joystick docking and positioning system.