by John Curnow
Racing begins today at Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC) in Melbourne for the inaugural TP52 Southern Cross Cup. However, it very much all got underway last night at the opening cocktail party. Based on the success of that and positive comments revolving around the both the regatta format and the host club, this is set to be a really great three days of high-end yacht racing.
Shogun V shows just how to stop traffic. - TP52 Southern Cross Cup
Representatives from the crews of all eight vessels partaking in the TP52 Southern Cross Cup were on hand to celebrate this new concept that is the brainchild of Jason Van Der Slot and Terry Wetton. They have been considering how best to approach the idea for a little over two years, so both were particularly delighted to be talking amongst the gathering that signified the fruition of their toils.
Possibly one of the best stories came from SYC Vice Commodore, Kate Mitchell, who had been driving along Beach Road earlier in the day when three of the vessels were out practising and using the #7 mark at Green Point for rounding practice. Kate said, 'I was at the traffic lights at the intersection of South Road and when they went green, the cars did not move. Everyone was too busy watching these sensational craft go about their business.'
One of the craft out training on Port Phillip was the newly crowned Audi IRC Australian Champion, Shogun V. Speaking with her Skipper, Rob Hanna, 'Yes it was a smile whilst you were interviewing me at Geelong, but it’s now a new regatta, which is going to be tough to win. You’re right; we are not going to get it all our own way. As I say to the Olympic teams I have managed, you’re only as good as your next race, not the last one!'
'There are eight 52footers out there and the maths is going to make sure everyone has a chance. In terms of speed, there are four or maybe five that can really turn it on and make it very close. A lot will depend on the prevailing conditions that we get, many tactical decisions and the gates at the bottom will bring everybody back in to the same space.'
'We have a lot of Etchells experience on board and having raced those craft here a lot, we think that will assist with this program, too. We sailed the best race when we lost our instruments for one race at Geelong and perhaps this is a benefit from sailing the Etchells.'
'To go back to back, would be a situation of saying that’s great and then saying right, what’s the next one. We have been working on correcting some of the errors that we made on Corio Bay, so hopefully we do not repeat any of them.'
Local boat, Calm 2 will be driven by Ian ‘Barney’ Walker for the regatta. He said of the experiences at the IRC Australian Championships, 'Geelong was an eye opener for us in terms of getting our crew work spot on. We were thrilled to have got three wins like Hooligan and Shogun V, but up until then we had not really done a lot of close racing against the other newer TP52s.'
'We thought we did pretty well, notwithstanding not having some speed issues at various points by missing our tuning settings or missing a shift in the breeze. This is still a big learning curve for us, so we plan on making our racing tighter and cleaner and then maybe that will be enough to get us over the line this time.'
'We will try and be in the top three or four placings, so we won’t want to have too many bad starts and they are crucial, probably even more so here. When we got behind, we said to ourselves not to give up and so it was a great effort by the crew to pull out a couple of those come from behind wins. Having said that it would be good not to have to do that, so we have been working on just sharpening up across the board, rather than looking for big gains.'
'Consistency is going to pay here and if you are a top four from every race, then you will probably win it. Matt Turner comes in to be the Tactician for this regatta. It is good to have such wonderful crew with us including Aaron Cole and Matt Johns, but all thanks to our Skipper, Jason Van Der Slot is a terrific motivator and he just loves his sailing. I have not enjoyed my sailing like I do with this campaign for a long time', Walker finished with.
John ‘Willow’ Williams from another of the local boats, Calm, said 'We are very much fired up for this and it looks like it will go down to the last day to see who gets the win. The light stuff today will help us, so every time you go out there you have to think about doing the best and keeping your scoreboard dreams alive.'
Elsewhere, the colours of Brighton Jeep’s cars lining the driveway for the duration of the TP52 Southern Cross Cup are almost as varied as those of the craft that are partaking in the regatta. There is the black of Hooligan, the red of Scarlet Runner and blue for Shogun V, to represent them all, which comprise of those three plus Beau Geste, Calm, Calm 2, Frantic and Cougar II.
Coopers new 62 Pilsner went down a treat in the warm afternoon sun, so they’ll have no problem marketing it. There is a one hour debrief and drinks session after each day to promote camaraderie and ensure that the whole affair is based on good times and fun, with the hot competition left to the time on the race track.
The format of the series is still a work in progress, but you may well see two rounds in Melbourne and another two in Sydney. This will allow for more racing and keep costs down by not having to move the vessels as often or as far. If the smiles on SYC’s expansive deck are anything to go by, then the deal may have already been closed.
If you are in Melbourne presently, you can see all of the action by simply coming along to the clubhouse at Jetty Road in Sandringham. To arrange your best vantage point, simply contact Sandringham Yacht Club directly on 9599 0999. They will do their best to assist any member of the public who wishes to see this great spectacle. Victorian club members can sign in at the Reception Desk and then go to Member’s Bar for the best views on offer.
See syc.com.au and transpac52.org/home for more information.