Archive for April, 2013

Frantic wins the Lord Howe Race!

The Lord Howe Island race on Frantic was one of those trips where everything just seems to miraculously click together in spite of all odds: the ragtag crew put together at the last minute (there was a lot of shaking hands on deck at the start), the barely used sails from another boat, the light air start that looked like a guaranteed OCS but turned into a perfect start…

Leading the fleet out of Pittwater.

Leading the fleet out of Pittwater.

I’ll gloss over the details, which you can read about here. The conditions were far from typical for this race, with a light breeze dying on the second day, which meant a lot of playing with local conditions, chasing down squalls and rain cells for a day or two. Frantic took the southern route, looking to get out of adverse current and maybe even get a boost from the eddies coming off the EAC, with inconclusive results. But we kept the boat moving when all the rhumbline boats got parked in no wind. We knew we weren’t doing too bad when we looked to starboard on Day 2 and saw the scratch boat – A Volvo 70 – a couple miles off. And when the wind filled as forecast from the southeast on Day 3, Frantic started tearing up the race course headed straight for the island at 9 knots. The rest of the fleet suffered on a much tighter angle in lighter winds, and we cruised to victory in both IRC and ORCi.

Sunrise reveals - an island!

Sunrise reveals – an island!

I owe a big thanks to Mick (Frantic’s owner – a very cool dude to sail with) and Ken (who put together the crew) for putting me in the navigator spot. I was a little nervous navigating in a fully-crewed effort, as I didn’t want to disappoint the crew, but everything just clicked and we have a great result to show for it!

We’ll need a bigger boat…

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6’6″ of headroom!

For Easter weekend I flew down to Melbourne and hopped on the TP52 Frantic for a delivery up the coast to Newcastle. This is the biggest yacht I’ve ever sailed, and definitely one of the nicest. All carbon, twin helms, coffee grinder, the whole shebang! But it’s actually a pretty simple boat, and surprisingly easy to sail. And for those of you that are thinking “who the hell is insane enough to take an oversized skiff offshore?”, Frantic isn’t a fragile inshore toy like the other TP52s, but a solid offshore steed that’s raced the Sydney-Hobart.

A southerly wind and eight-person delivery crew combined to make our trip up the coast a smooth one. The only incident of note was a couple wipeouts that ended in a torn spinnaker, the result of our desire to play around a bit and get the boat moving fast in the building wind. I’ll be back on the boat this weekend for the Gosford-Lord Howe Island Race. This 414-mile trek off the coast is the only Category 1 race in Australia besides the Hobart. I’ve been assigned the role of navigator, which won’t be easy with the forecasted light winds and strong current. You can check out the lineup and follow the race here. The start is April 6th at 1300, and with this forecast it’ll probably take us 3 days to get to the island.

After the race, Frantic will be sailing straight back to Melbourne, which should be a sweet 1000-mile downwind sled ride. I’m kind of curious as to how quickly they will go. I’m thinking less than 4 days.

In other news I have a ticket out of Australia… to Vietnam! Departure is scheduled for April 29th. I’m looking forward to seeing a bit of southeast Asia before a stateside stint.

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