52s lining up in Oz again
A tough contingent of Australians will meet a brilliant, but lone majority New Zealand crew for the ANZAC long weekend running of stage two of the TP52 Southern Cross Cup at Sandringham Yacht Club over 26-28 April.
Australian and New Zealand comrades will be honoured this coming ANZAC Day for fighting side-by-side, a tradition which began on the bloody shores of Gallipoli during WWI. In keeping with the modern day rivalry between the two great sporting nations eight TP52s will square off on the waters of Port Phillip in Victoria the following day to begin the quest for the series’ perpetual trophy.
Team Beau Geste, owned by Hong Kong based businessman Karl Kwok and skippered by leading Kiwi match racer Gavin Brady, took stage one from Marcus Blackmore’s Sydney based TP52 Hooligan by four points back in February.
“Karl Kwok is extremely passionate about his sailing and it’s a real boost for the team to have him back sailing with us for stage two of the Southern Cross Cup,” said Brady prior to the New Zealand contingent heading across the Tasman Sea to defend their round one
Kwok last sailed in Australia at the Festival of Sails in Geelong in 2008. On his much anticipated return he said, “It is my understanding from crew feedback and especially Gavin that all the TP52s in this circuit are pretty even. This means it will be class racing in the purest form.
“Also the format of the races are proposed and agreed by the owners, ensuring an exceptionally level playing field. It will be down to making the right tactical calls as well as crew ability for all. To me those are the main ingredients of exciting racing!”
Prominent Australian businessman Marcus Blackmore has said in the past that “coming second is a bit like coming second in a fight - it’s not fun”.
The performance of Jason Van Der Slot’s Calm 2 on Port Phillip during the TP52s first hit out from SYC two months ago was indubitable, the local boat placing third a mere point from Hooligan’s impressive second rung on the pointscore ladder.
The three-day regatta, due to start this Friday 26 April, will showcase the same line-up as stage one of the TP52 Southern Cross Cup, as long as Michael Martin’s Frantic from Newcastle makes a successful 730 mile delivery from Lord Howe Island.
Frantic was officially declared the IRC and ORCi winner of the 39th edition of the well-known Gosford to Lord Howe Island yacht race on the 10th of this month. Martin headed back to the island over the weekend and was planning to leave for Melbourne yesterday morning on the tail of fresh WNW winds. He reckoned the delivery crew would arrive at Sandringham YC this Wednesday afternoon or evening, which, assuming an incident-free delivery leaves them a day up their sleeves before Friday’s first of nine scheduled windward/leeward races.
ANZAC Day, Thursday 25 April, is the dedicated practice day for all crews.
For round two, Frantic will be sporting some new faces and new 'pre-loved Hooligan sails' and will be racing with a different rig set-up, thanks to the generous efforts of legendary offshore yachtsman Barney Walker, Calm 2’s helmsman, who has tuned the rig on the oldest TP in the series - a gesture that has Martin “feeling the love of the TP fraternity”.
Frantic, launched in 2004, will once again be racing with an age allowance advantage over the much newer generation hulls of Victorian entries Shogun V and Calm 2 (both 2011 hulls) and remaining entries; Hooligan (2009 hull), John Williams’ Calm (VIC) and Tony Lyall’s Cougar II (TAS), both 2005 boats and also eligible for an age allowance, Rob Date’s RP52 (its genesis is the TP52 design), the 2009 Scarlet Runner (VIC) and Team Beau Geste (HKG), also launched in 2009.
A change to the Notice of Race for stage two allows all teams to carry one additional non-professional crewmember to meet the new upper limit of 15 sailors for hulls aged 2001-2007. Crew numbers for the rest of the fleet have been capped at 13.
Laying a start gate in the middle of the course is likely to feature again as a way of compressing the fleet, thereby cutting out tactical options and keeping the older generation TPs in touch, while also heightening the spectator experience.
At a meeting planned for Friday morning, all eight owners will vote whether to open proceedings with the more traditional bottom gate start and windward/leeward courses, as a warm-up before returning to the pioneering format, which was trialled so successfully in February.
The predominant autumn weather cycle could mean five knots of nothing or a gradient NW-SW breeze and not much in between says Shogun V’s skipper Rob Hanna, who hails from across the Bay.
The local forecast has cool north-west breezes easing over the coming four days as a high pressure system moves slowly east.
The TP52 Southern Cross Cup is just one of the activities planned for this weekend’s 3rd annual Club Marine SYC Centenary Trophy Regatta incorporating the AMS and IRC Victorian State Championship titles and J/24 One Design sprint to be hosted this Saturday, 27 April, on the waters of Port Phillip.
Coopers 62 Pilsner will again supply product to the TP52 event and support happy hour each afternoon when all the teams, sponsors and guests will enjoy a post-race Coopers 62 beer on the balcony at the host venue.
The remaining two stages of the inaugural four-part TP52 series will be held in Sydney, the dates and host club are yet to be announced.