Photography by Andrea Francolini
31 July 2023
Andoo Comanche has claimed Line Honours in the 384 nautical mile Noakes Sydney Gold Coast, for the second year in a row.
The VPLP/Verdier Maxi 100, skippered by John Winning Jr, crossed the line at 4.34am in 1 day, 15 hours, 34 minutes and 33 seconds to claim another win in the race that was created back in 1986 to promote tourism to South-East Queensland.
The majestic maxi finished off Main Beach in around 8-12 knots of breeze, as she came in from a wider position 50 miles out.
“Originally the models had us going much further out,” said Skipper John Winning Jnr. “But we got a right-hand shift not too long off South Head, so we took that went left on the right shift on starboard and then we took another little one back.”
“We were, pretty lonely out there, I guess. We didn’t see another boat after about three hours into the race,” Winning said.
Boat Captain Iain Murray said they went far off-shore to capitalise on the wind.
“We did end up 60 nautical miles off the coast, which is a long way for a race that is only 384 nautical miles. It means that we actually sailed further, but we went out there to get the wind and to avoid the current.
“The thing for Andoo Comanche is that she likes wind and the thought of being inshore and having not too much wind, is something we put high on the risk factor and to try to avoid.” Murray said.
Skipper John ‘Herman’ Winning Jnr said despite being in a solo battle, as the only maxi in the fleet, it was still a gratifying journey North. With 18 on board, the team kept morale high with lots of jokes, a crew member’s birthday and some dolphins.
“There are lots of laughs and jokes. At one stage Campbell set his hair on fire, there was a pigeon who visited us for a day, and there were some dolphins.
“We were streaming the Bledisloe Cup at one stage, then we went too far offshore and a few of us voted to tack back in to get reception – but we were out-voted,” Winning said.
Winning Jr chartered the boat for a two-year period before last year’s Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Race and has since campaigned it successfully in all major Australian events, including a Line Honours victory in the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The race from Sydney Harbour to a mark off Main Beach on the Gold Coast didn’t offer optimum conditions for Andoo Comanche, who generally prefers stronger wind strength and reaching conditions for which her wider beam is most suited.
She has however, exhibited more versatility of late and it has become apparent since last year’s Hamilton Island Race Week that she can triumph over her 100-foot competitors in a broader range of conditions.
Andoo Comanche led from start to finish, progressively extending her lead over the mini maxis, Anthony Johnston’s URM Group and David Griffith’s Whisper.
The Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race is the opening race of the 2023/24 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore, which features six races, culminating in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The 384 nautical mile course takes the fleet from the start line in Sydney Harbour to the finish off Main Beach in Queensland.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia is the Race Organiser and Southport Yacht Club is the Race Finishing Partner, while Noakes Group is the Race Sponsor.