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Yachts taking part in the Oyster World Rally make their way through the unspoiled waters of the Lau island group in Fiji.

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Editor’s Letter

In sailing, a voyage truly begins when you cast off your dock lines and surrender to the other environment that dominates this blue planet – that of the sea.

For those of us who spend the majority of our precious water time racing – either round the cans, or offshore, it seems as if there are limited opportunities to enjoy the delights of cruising. The contrary is true. Get a few mates together for an afternoon or weekend and consciously switch modes. As author Nancy Knudsen points out in this special cruising-focussed issue, there is a mindset change required to slip into simple appreciation of the elements, and another to embark on a serious bluewater odyssey.

And as Denis Doyle, an experienced and well known cruising yachtsman explains, if you do feel the powerful pull to cast off the trappings of the land, then be prepared – not only for the logistical challenges – but also for the personal changes your experiences will bring.

The lessons applied in cruising – sail handling, seamanship and safety – are, of course, all honed during the long, rewarding hours we spend tuning up for the undisputed highlight of our racing year – the Rolex Sydney Hobart.

The recent Flinders Islet Race, won by Andy Kearnan’s and Peter Wrigley’s TP 52 Koa, in record time, is a textbook example of that. I was on board Smuggler for that wildly variable outing. We logged everything, including punishing 44-knot squalls which transformed into turbofans once we rounded the Islet and launched off the lumpy south-easterly swells, hitting 24 knots heading back to the harbour.

This year’s edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart is shaping up as a unique celebration of yachting’s technical evolution – from Dorade, the famous S&S yawl which shaped modern ocean racing – to the current crop of supermaxis, at least five of which should be on the start line.

As usual the 45 to 55 foot category, encompassing the uber-competitive TP fleet, will be the main focus of attention for overall honours, but weather conditions will have the final say.

We also provide a guide to the latest offerings from the top European yards, including Beneteau’s new Oceanis 51.1, a design heavily influenced by the group’s racing DNA. In destination, Kevin Green shares his knowledge of the best regattas and cruising options in the Kingdom of Thailand; the country’s exotic scenery, culture and cuisine still make it one of the top choices on any sailing bucket list.

And finally we pay tribute to former CYCA Commodore John Messenger, and Rear Commodore Alan Brown. Fair winds to both these fine yachtsmen.

See you on the water.

SCOTT ALLE

Editor Sails Magazine