Record race

Locomotive breath powers new Flinders Islet Race record.

Written by Scott Alle / DJ Munro
Photography by CYCA

17 September 2018


The hottest spring day in five years propelled Sydney super-maxi Comanche to the fastest time in the history of the CYCA’s Flinders Islet Race.

Flying into Sydney Harbour and crossing the line just 6 hours, 28 minutes and 20 seconds after exiting the Harbour, the 100-footer enjoyed a fast run in the fitful conditions experienced on the 92 nautical mile course.

“It was a fantastic race,” said Comanche owner and skipper Jim Cooney. The distinctive red and black hulled speed machine lowered Koa’s old mark by just over one hour.

“We had a nice run down the coast to the Islet, but it was a pretty heavy slog back. We were tucked in quite close to the coast as we headed north, and it was great to see the other competitors heading down under spinnaker,” he commented.

Indeed, after averaging just under 14 knots for the 92-mile journey, in winds varying from 15-20 knots, Cooney and the crew are keen to take what they learnt in the main event, the Rolex Sydney Hobart – of which they are the current open race record holder and Line Honours champions.


“The Hobart race will be a grudge match this year, I think all the big boats are looking forward to a pretty solid tussle up the front end of things,” Cooney predicted.

“It’s only fair with such a good lead up to it last year, and there’s always a lot of excitement. This year both us and Wild Oats XI as well as the other 100-footers have a lot to prove and a lot at stake so it’s going to big.”

Next to cross the line was current Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race conventionally-ballasted race record holder and Tattersall Cup winner, Matt Allen’s TP52 Ichi Ban.

Starting well, and second out of the heads, Ichi Ban kept widening the gap to the trailing fleet the finish, arriving 95 minutes astern of Comanche, though missing out on breaking Koa’s 2017 record by half an hour.

“We’re very happy to come away with the win, it was really tight racing the whole way,” said Allen.

“It was hard to make gains on the rest of the fleet going towards Flinders Islet, there were a lot of holes in the breeze on the way down and it was incredibly technical sailing. Coming back was a different story though, we had 20-30 knots across the boat and we had a lovely reach into Sydney Harbour and the finish.”

A little further back in the fleet Smuggler and Yarrandi copped a squall with gusts nearing 40 knots, making for a spectacular rounding of Flinders Islet just off Woollongong.

Adrian Dunphy, tactician aboard David Griffiths’ and Doug Flynn’s immaculate Marten 49 said the Yarrandi crew had to employ some prudent seamanship as Smuggler struggled to stay in control in the wind tunnel that developed below the escarpment.

“It became apparent that although on port tack, Smuggler would have difficulty bearing under our stern so we took evasive action on starboard and ducked them,” Dunphy related.

“Two quick tacks later we were in a position to safely round (the Islet),” Dunphy continued. “With our owner David Griffith in the pre-race briefing reminding us all of the dangers of gybing our boat with a loose mainsheet (both steering pedestals had been removed with the original owner), we took the safer option of grannying around. The next boat, St Jude, even with a reef in, followed suit.”

It was also an entertaining outing for PHS Division with Jason Bond’s Beneteau First 47.7 Enigma claiming the ultimate prize, after a tightly-fought battle.

“We’re stoked with the win, we didn’t even realise we were anywhere near that result,” said an overjoyed Bond.

“We were having an absolute ball, there were two other 47.7s out there and we were all playing tag the whole time. It was superb, a real champagne sail for the first half, then the westerly came in around the Islet and we had 40 knots over the boat, it was a bit lively coming home!”

The ACSBWPS series now re-focusses on Race 3 of the six-event competition, the 215-nautical-mile Newcastle Bass Island Race starting at 7:05pm Friday 12 October.

A strong fleet of 27 yachts is already entered, including last year’s series champion Tony Kirby who’s on the hunt for extremely rare consecutive-series wins.

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