by John Curnow
The well campaigned, terrifically sailed, highly competitive, and widely successful, Victoire is a justified beacon amongst the fleet getting set to participate at eighth annual SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week from 28 August - 2 September 2014
Victoire won Division A1 overall on countback from Bob Steel's Quest. - Land Rover Winter Series 2014
The final round of Queensland’s winter of sailing is once more set to bring that delightful combination of exquisite sailing and warm glow of friendship to all who partake.
The Notice of Race and the online entry is at www.magneticislandraceweek.com.au. Entries close Friday 22nd August 2014.
Catching up with Darryl Hodgkinson, who was back in a very soggy Sydney, he spoke of activities just completed and those yet to come. 'It certainly was miserable for that last race at Airlie Beach. It’s lifted off now and become a lot lighter at Hamilton Island. Airlie was pounding for days at 25-30knots. You wait years for that. Seems like it blows 25 knots on Sydney Harbour now and they call it off. For us and other big boats it is terrific and we get to really fly.'
Darryl Hodgkinson's Victoire on their way to just beating Pretty Fly III in the Dent Island Race - Vision Surveys Airlie Beach Race Week 2014
'It certainly was a gear testing situation. We broke a halyard and one of our backstays, but thankfully nobody was hurt and we’re all still talking about it. All we needed was a result on the day to secure our podium position and that’s all we wanted. We put a reef in the main so we could tack under the remaining backstay and kept on charging. What also made it interesting was that we only had eight crew on board, with two of them very inexperienced and another two new to the boat. The Cookson’s canting keel and powered winches help, but tail on the rail still counts!'
Hodgkinson went on to say, 'We noticed this on the Harbour for the winter series, too. We enjoyed a great rivalry against British Lion, with whom we shared sensational boat on boat racing. They’re nice guys, which also helps make it such a pleasant time. They were second behind us in the Hobart and it was fantastic to see Colin reactivate his campaign after that. Teamwork and what you do with the boat really matters and of course the ubiquitous work on your IRC Certificate, as well.'
Of course the current Sydney Hobart champion is no stranger to success, having tasted plenty of it with his Beneteau First 45 (also named Victoire). Darryl and the crew amassed two Hobart and Southport division wins and also a Bluewater Pointscore trophy in that tenure. By his own admission complacency could have set in at that point. He looked at moving on to a TP52, as well as the KER46, but the Cookson 50 seemed to fit his overall program better and hoisting the Tattersall’s Trophy aloft in his first year with the boat was justification and then some.
Overall handicap winner, VICTOIRE. CYCA Commodore Howard Piggott with Darryl Hodgkinson, Victoire Owner
Always looking for the edge and keeping more than a weather eye on the competition too, Hodgkinson commented, 'Airlie Beach certainly was a briar patch for Patrice. It planes so early and they sail it so well with all that talent on board. It is a big effort from Tony Kirby. We’ll be a bit more competitive at Magnetic Island Race Week, for we have four locals coming on board. We met them at Lord Howe Island, where they had been racing the Marten 49, Ocean Affinity.'
That group was actually introduced to Victoire by Will Oxley, who has also upgraded Victoire’s Navigation instrumentation/computation. 'This will be good for us. Nav does have its issues. We had to take a conservative approach around the islands during Airlie Beach and Pretty Fly III got us with a couple of locals on board. We have also done some work on our Navionics charts. We’re using the iPad more, but visibility and handling can be a challenging, so the iPhone may work better for us. We have VentusPro syncing from Xpedition and about the only other item to conquer is battery power/life with the brightness up full tilt.'
Victoire is primed to win the race overall.
'We’re not getting a lot of mist in the boat, for which we are eternally delighted. Our water comes almost exclusively from wet sails. It goes over the dodger and straight out, over the stern. We did however have a lot water going to Hobart after a Chinese gybe when doing 25knots during a hand over, but it was all cool. We got the #4 ‘chute down and the staysail, canted the keel over the other side, redeployed the staysail, hoisted the #6 bag and got going. 11 minutes in total, which was a great job by the crew', said Hodgkinson.
Talking of damage, it was the bin for the #3 spinnaker after the first day at Airlie Beach. Luckily there was also a spare halyard in the truck, which was re-run that night. 'Danny McConville runs a good set up for us, which is sensational to have that sort of confidence in back up. Magnetic Island Race Week is more family oriented with the competition not quite the same. It will be a new area for us and we’ll be enjoying it all, just like Lincoln Race Week. These events are where you get to feel that unsung joy of racing of racing a yacht either Interstate or overseas.'
IRC skippers Matt Allen, Tony Kirby and Daryl Hodgkinson looking relaxed before their tight battle begins tomorrow. Vision Surveys 25th Airlie Beach Race Week Regatta 2014
'After 10 days back in the mix back here, I’ll be more than keen to hit the sun and hopefully some more of those awesome SE trades, which I think we’ll get. I’m surprised that Ichi Ban has not elected to go, as Matt seems to enjoy racing against Pretty Fly III and us. We hope the Cookson has a lot of life in her and God willing, we’ll be back on the harbour and also outside ready for more fun after this Northern Escapade', said Hodgkinson.
'Yes. We are doing the 70th Sydney to Hobart later in the year and going to have a serious tilt at the elusive back-to-back victory! When we got the boat I told the crew it was a two-year programme. We got the Hobart a year early, but I see no reason to give up now. We won the Winter Series after the Hobart from Bob Steel on count back. There’s another vessel with which we have good camaraderie. Victoire is such a good boat to sail. We’ll continue to take her out a lot, keep on sailing and loving it. In 25 to 30 knots we’re off doing 25 downhill and smiling, which is kind of cool.'
The smile on the dial of this champion will no doubt be prevalent as is being a feature on the scoreboard. The Racing Division of Magnetic Island Race Week will offer great competition, friendly atmosphere and that most elusive of yachting items – a true understanding of why you’re there in the first place. It will definitely be a case of the event matching the pics in the brochure.
Pretty Fly III, Patrice and Victoire at the windward mark. Little separated them throughout the 42nm passage race - Vision Surveys Airlie Beach Race Week 2014