Steve Manning’s brand new Sydney GTS 43 Walawala 2 had literally just been unwrapped before making the 500nm trip from Singapore to Phuket for the 2011 Phuket King’s Cup.
Manning has been campaigning a Beneteau 44.7 in recent years, mostly at Club racing level and he and his Corinthian team, a blend of nine different nationalities, are now battling against a top level IRC Division 1 fleet with this new boat.
Sydney Yachts Jason Rowed reported ‘It’s a really good fleet. There are a whole lot of good boats out there that have been sailing pretty well. Matt Allen’s Ichiban has previously dominated this division but they are now midfleet and a benchmark for what’s happening at this level due to a lot of boat design improvements.
'The GTS43, Kirkirkercu the Ker 40, the two Mills boats, Mandrake and the Summit/King 40, the Ker 32, they are all the newer generation - lighter displacement with high volume, high form stability, high riding moment.
‘Leading the regatta so far are the Japanese crew aboard the Summit/King 40 who are very good sailors.
‘They look pretty slick. We can charge upwind past them when we get to the corners, we are still working on that part. They have got it pretty well nailed. Good on them.‘
Rowed provided a blow by blow report on Walawala 2's regatta to date.
Day 1 was two windward leeward races in approx 8-12 knots, the breeze generally is stronger early on and fades towards midday in the heat of the day. Results for the first day were a third and a seventh so not a bad start as we find our feet.
Day 2 and we were sent of a 27nm passage race, breeze was approx 12-14 knots at the start. With short beat that felt like 12 rounds with Mundine, we managed to just get ahead of the 40’s at the top mark (half a mile beat and missing the shift was not a good start).
With some clean air we let the boat do its thing and by the next corner we were alongside the Ker 40 and GP 42’s. Upwind we were finding the GTS 43 is very quick.
At the end of the beat the breeze had faded back down to 6-8 knots so the run home was looking like it was going to test us. Good news is we actually found VMG running in this wind range very rewarding as we took time out of all our competitors and ended up winning the race on IRC.
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Day 3, breeze was 16-18 knots with three windward leeward races scheduled. First start was good and we headed up the beat fast and high to lead at the first mark. Good way to start the day I thought. (The boat felt really good).
With a few little handling issues as we rounded corners we lost a little time but ended the race with a second on IRC behind the team from Japan (I hear they have a few Olympic sailors onboard and they are racing very well).
Race 2 for the day went the same really, extremely fast upwind and also very good downwind, searching for the right angle and mode which we must have found as we won the race on IRC. Awesome for the team as a very tough fleet. Bad news is we ended up with a 20% penalty for an infringement so we slipped to third place.
Race 3 was the last for the day and the pressure was down a little, off the line ok but not great and heading upwind with great pace. For some reason we didn’t manage our risk level and before we knew it we were out on the left with our main competitors all on the right in the shift. Very tough race working back up to salvage a mid fleet sixth place. Not great but better than a 10th.
Lay day today with racing back on Friday and Saturday.
‘So with a list of great results spread over different wind strengths and courses we are very happy with the boat's performance overall. We will find by minimizing our mistakes the results will become more consistent but I think for a team that only met each other at this regatta we are doing very well.’
A very happy owner Steve Manning commented ‘The day before the regatta was the first day we actually went out for a real sail. We spent five hours out there and it was wonderful. It clicked. We were almost totally on the polars straight away. But the learning curve is vertical. I am really, really pleased, it has exceeded my wildest expectations.’
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More information at Sydmey Yachts website www.sydneyyachts.com
Phuket King's Cup www.kingscup.com