Carkeek Design Partners featured 2 boats in this year’s edition of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
Ichi Ban the Carkeek60, skippered by Australian Matt Allen (Class0) and Indian the Carkeek47 under the wing of Craig Gardener (Class1)
Recent races had seen smaller to mid size boats between 42-52ft perform best as witnessed by Victoire in 2013 and Wild Rose in 2014. This year made it a hat trick of wins for the medium size boats as Paul Clitheroe’s Balance, produced an excellent performance in the favourable conditions in the opening and last third of the race to claim the overall IRC title.
The race kicked off in a fresh northerly breeze, which saw the fleet beat towards the Tasman Sea, one of the most infamous sailing racetracks in the world. If the northerly at the start kept crews on their toes, it was the treacherous southerly on the first night that really illustrated why this race is revered and feared by so many. 31 boats were forced to retire in one night, including home favourite Wild Oats.
Ichi Ban and Indian were among the survivors with both crews performing well at the top of their respective classes. Racing in these conditions, a nasty gusty 25-35 knot southerly with south-flowing current in the pitch black of night requires expert seamanship and an acute awareness of not only the conditions at sea, but also the spectrum of the boat’s capacities and limits in terms of it’s engineering and construction. (Finding the optimum balance between weight saving and reliability is a key requirement for the designers. And where experience and technical expertise are tested to the limit)
The Class0 boats opted for a more offshore course in heavier seas while Class 1,2,3 and 4 plotted their attack on Hobart closer to the coast. At the front the individual battles began to develop quickly with Comanche and Rambler slugging it out for line honours, closely followed by Syd Fisher’s Ragamuffin and Giovanni Soldini’s smaller Volvo70 Maserati. After suffering rudder and keel damage, Ken Reed’s Comanche seemed dead and buried but a decision to soldier on saw one of the great comebacks in the history of the race.
Ichi Ban had been embroiled in her own personal battle with Chinese Whisper, and this duel would see the boats regularly trading places right until the finish. Ichi Ban had sailed magnificently on the day 3 to take command of the overall IRC standings and led (overall with 136 miles to go) for 136 miles, however a wind change and loss of wind gear for 24hrs saw her lose 5.5 miles to Chinese Whisper who consolidated 5th place on line honours. A 24hr period without gear and battling to get crew up the rig they managed to solve the issue and claw their way back, closing the lead to just 4 miles. Ichi Ban finished only 12mins after Chinese Whisper to claim 6th in line honours, 8th IRC overall and 2nd in Class0.
Matt Allen said after the race, “We were extremely pleased overall with the performance of the boat, we were faster than Chinese Whisper off-wind and in the reaching conditions, but the loss of the wind gear didn’t help matters.”
Indian also posted an extremely solid set of results, 11th line honours and 4th in Class1. She showed impressive speed and led the race overall after 2 days, only to be thwarted by an extended period of lighter air which the 52’s were able to take advantage of.
Congratulations to all winners and competitors. See you in 2016.