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Ichi Ban pushes forward to Newcastle Bass Island overall win

by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia 12 Oct 2019 20:33 PDT 11-12 October 2019
Ichi Ban battling with fellow TP52s as they tussle for positions leaving Sydney Harbour. © CYCA Hamish Hardy

After 215 nautical miles of ever changing conditions along the New South Wales coastline, Matt Allen and his team on the TP52 Ichi Ban have taken the overall win in the Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore Series Newcastle Bass Island Race.

This race win continues their dominant form after winning the previous race of the series and placing second overall in the first. This meant Ichi Ban sits in top spot for the Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore Series standings ahead of a string of similar designed TP52s including Celestial, Gweilo and Zen.

Following a slight gear issue after the start and trailing a few of the initial front runners out through Sydney Heads, Allen and his team quickly got to work on making up the lost ground. Within the first two hours Ichi Ban was back at the head of the fleet battling with the front running TP52s and the larger 60 footers No Limit and Chinese Whisper.

Once they made it to the front of the pack they were there to stay for the rest of the race. On the leg from Newcastle to Bass Island it was neck and neck, Ichi Ban and Chinese Whisper in eyesight from this point until the finish line in Rushcutters Bay.

"It was pleasing to be right there with them at the finish line and at every mark rounding. We sailed the whole way back to Sydney within four or five boat lengths of Chinese Whisper which was very exciting. Every time we get close to them they are able to just wriggle away a bit with the extra size. We can get up to them but it is very hard to get past them," said Allen.

The race win did not come easily though, with varying conditions and an ever changing racecourse the crew had their work cutout for them throughout the race.

"It was pretty tricky going up to Newcastle as there were a lot of rain clouds and wind shifts. We were able to use them quite well which put us in good stead at the Newcastle mark. We thought that the leg back to Bass Island was going to be pretty tricky and it certainly was. When we approached Bass Island, ourselves and Chinese Whisper were becalmed there and thought the boats behind would catch up pretty quickly. It was getting pretty close with Celestial and ourselves for overall positions when we rounded Bass Island. We had our work cut out for us to get the time back on Celestial on the leg back to Sydney.

"Celestial sailed a really good race, they were always in the hunt the whole way. We had our back against the wall trying to get as much time on them as we could on the way back from Bass Island. Tactically it was one of the trickiest races I have seen in a long time, with the rain clouds, winds shift and changes in pressure it made it really challenging," said Allen.

With Ichi Ban finishing a mere two minutes behind the line honours winner Chinese Whisper, it put the team in a perfect position to strive for the overall win. All that was left to do was wait for the remainder of the fleet to make their way across the finish line and with each yacht being marked off the win drew ever closer.

In IRC, overall and Division 1 were claimed by Matt Allen and his team on Ichi Ban ahead of Sam Haynes' Celestial followed by Matt Donald and Chris Townsend's Gweilo in third. In Division 2 Noel Cornish's St Jude was first, ahead of Tony Levett's TSA Management and Anthony Coleman's Euphoria.

PHS saw Sam Haynes' Celestial and Matt Allen's Ichi Ban take first and second respectively in both ORCi overall and Division 1, with Noel Cornish's St Jude third ORCi overall and Matt Donald and Chris Townsend's Gweilo third in ORCi Division 1. Division 2 was toped by St Jude with Tony Levett's TSA Management and Anthony Coleman's Euphoria in second and third.

PHS was led by Kevin Whelan's Reve ahead of Jason Bonds Enigma and Steve Connor's Arch Rival.

Full results available here.

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