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Windcraft interviews John Caulfield

by Windcraft 25 Jan 2021 14:36 PST
Hanse 575 at berth © Windcraft

Is a big boat realistic for short-handed adventures? Windcraft went sailing with John Caulfield to find out what it's like living with his Hanse 575.

Tell us about your boating background - have you always been a keen sailor and what boats have you owned before buying your Hanse?

Actually my sailing history started in smaller, "off the beach boats" like 470's, lots of catamarans and then progressed up. I had a Sonata 8, Adams 10, Young 11 and was very race focused before I went into my first cruising boat, with my Catalina 445. I liked all of them for different reasons, but the one thing I did want was a good volume boat that could be easily sailed by two people. Myself and my wife Deborah, or a mate. The Hanse 575 just fits the bill. We have cruised her long distance up to North Queensland and I race her every Wednesday in the WAGS race, (Wednesday Afternoon Gentleman's Sailing) and also most Saturday

You've sailed to some pretty spectacular places - any favourites and how did you find the 575 looked after you when living aboard?

We love the area north of the Whitsundays, Magnetic Island and up around the Palm Group of islands, like Orpheus. They are less travelled and provide great sailing and special anchorages. The Hanse 575 has great volume. We also created a workshop / laundry which when you are living aboard is a great bonus. We can also enclose the whole cockpit if we need, so we have a lot of protection and heaps of room.

Importantly the boat is really easy for us to sail two handed, with Bow and Stern thrusters and self-tacking jib, furling Code Zero and a Asymmetric Kite with a snuffer. It is really capable of great speeds but in comfort without needing to have lots of people on board. The furling main into the boom is another great innovation. Also having the dinghy in the garage is great, it doesn't clog up the cockpit with davits etc and it always stays in great condition. Having a boat that is also fully Air Conditioned, makes it just like home.

As well as venturing off for longer cruising adventures, I understand you enjoy the occasional race - the 575 is a big boat to race with, do you need a full crew (and have you been winning)?

We regularly get top positions and today we got a third. Myself and my mate Greg have sailed together for over 30 years and together we can get very competitive. A lot of "race boats" get surprised when we mow them down from the timed starts. Its very satisfying, and we are carrying full water, a dinghy in the garage and all our cruising gear. It is all just powered up.

You have a number of interests outside sailing, what are they are where does yachting fit in?

We are very Keen on Fishing, I have 6 metre fishing boat as well, so we love that. We also have a big Caravan which we took away to Darwin last year for 3 months, This year we are going back but will tow the boat to fish and stay in a house ashore. We love enjoying life.

You like to sail short-handed and the 575 is certainly not a small yacht - were you daunted to start with or did you find it remarkably easy to get to grips with the boat?

It would be fair to say that my wife Deborah was daunted originally, but we got used to it surprisingly quickly. The boat is just set up so well that they are extremely easy to use if you have been around boats before.

Is Jo-De-7 your forever boat or are you always dreaming of the next yacht?

We think it is our forever boat at the moment, it just does everything we need. So, for as long as we are well and fit enough to keep sailing, Jo-De7 will be the one.

How has your experience with Windcraft and buying a Hanse been?

Dealing with Windcraft, nothing was an issue. If anything needed addressing it was immediately changed. There has never been an argument about any warranty issues. They have worked with us with upgrades and supported us all the way along. If there are any issues just ring the service manager Robert Orr and he and his team jump on it. When we first bought the boat we did have concerns about whether or not we would be supported as we are in Queensland. But they worked with our local trades and suppliers and nothing was a problem. The service team support is exceptional.

What would your advice be to anyone considering a Hanse 575 but worried about the size and complexity of a big boat?

It is a big boat so you do need to be aware and it wouldn't be what I would recommend to someone who had never sailed. But if you are a competent sailor and have been around other boats you will find that you will pick it up quite quickly. The boats are just very easy to use.

John and Deborah have owned their Hanse 575 since 2014 and live the dream in Queensland cruising, racing and making the most of every day aboard their stunning yacht, JoDe7.

"l also forgot to mention that the club have their single handed race 2weeks ago which was an 18nm scratch race with a 20kn breeze. I managed to take line honours and handicap wins!"

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