Multihull Central’s Brent Vaughan tries some big wave surfing onboard a Turrissmo 9 catamaran “Flyer” for the 18th annual Mega Multihull regatta on Sydney’s Botany Bay. (Photo by Antony Edwards)
With a trip to the Seawind / Corsair factory in Asia and Outremer factory in the South of France scheduled immediately after Easter, I was quickly running out of time to organise a boat to race in Kurnell Cat Club’s Mega Multihull regatta that we had again sponsored over the Easter weekend.
But a quick call to some old sailing mates, Anthony Edwards and Greg Wyers a day before the regatta got the kind of stop-everything-at-the-drop-of-a-hat response I was looking for. At the break of dawn before racing commenced that Saturday, we were motoring out from the Multihull Central marina on Sydney Harbour onboard a Malcolm Tennant designed Turrissimo 9 sports cruising catamaran named “Flyer” south for Botany Bay.
However what seemed like a simple little sail down the coast turned out to be far more adventurous than any of us had first anticipated. That weekend the remnants of Cyclone Ita had made its way across the Tasman Sea and onto the doorstep of Sydney. With seas as high as 6 meters outside, we were all in for one hell of a ride.
Photo by Greg Wyers
With the sun gently rising on Sydney Harbour and full sails up in about 10 knots of breeze from the South West, we spotted what you would only expect to see in somewhere like Hawaii or Tahiti on Sydney Heads. Giant fat curling waves wrapping around south head followed by spumes of white wash.
“Ok boys, hold on”, I said as we manoeuvred out between the heads. As we sailed up over the surf and into the following trough, we all shared a grin of excitement that could easily have been mistaken for terror. Flyer was a little boat, but with a big heart – lots of freeboard height and bridge deck clearance, daggerboards, blade rudders and a full suite of sails. But I had never sailed it offshore and certainly never in big seas. With a freshening Southerly against us, we started enjoying double digit speeds sailing as we rocketed up and down this fluid roller coaster ride. The scene was akin to that of the Perfect Storm as the fishing trawler struggles to climb the mountainous waves – ok maybe they weren’t that big, but we would have made George Clooney and Mark Walberg proud.
Before long the South Easterly had further increased to 15-20 knots and we were really flying. “We should really think about a reef soon,” said Anthony with his hand on the tiller, and before I could respond we clipped some wind chop on top of another swell and next we were airborn with only one hull left in the water. With all experienced cat sailors onboard the reaction was instinctive, immediately dumping and turning into the breeze, which eased the boat back to two hulls. “Yep, time for a reef”, I exclaimed.
With a reef added to the main, Flyer was beautifully balanced and rocketing along again pleasantly down the coast as we raced against the clock to make the first race at 10.30am. As we touched double digit speeds again, a pod of dolphins joined us on the bow and seemed to enjoy the company.
As we finally approached Botany Bay it was clear we weren’t going to make the start thanks to a few extra tacks thanks to the wind going more SE than predicted. But we were determined to finish the race and hunt down what boats we could. The evidence of the swell size was there for all to see on the rocky cliffs of Botany’s northern head. Gigantic and powerful surf curled beside us as spray teemed from its lips high into the sky. As we prepared ourselves for the entry, it was clear we were about to go big wave surfing. Fortunately, the waves were not breaking in the middle of the channel, but were mounting up high behind giving us the booster we needed to regain some lost time. Touching 14 knots was a nice way to arrive and the boat felt completely comfortable and under control. We flew past the start boat and started our battle to chase down the fleet.
Photo by Antony Edwards
A fleet of 15 catamarans had turned out for the 18th annual Mega Multihull Central Regatta with anything from a Seawind 24 through to a custom designed 50 foot catamaran from France called “Kalim”. In fact a healthy fleet of Seawinds had shown up for the meet including 8 Seawinds in total.
The sailing conditions on Saturday were as good as they get. 15-20 knots from the South East, very few other boats out and flat water – well mostly…the occasional swell seemed to still be making its way into the Bay and offering some rare surf on the beach at Brighton Le Sands.
Photo by Arthur Gargett
After two races on Saturday, the fleet anchored off the beach at Kurnell and went ashore by dinghy to the club house. The Kurnell Catamaran Club has had a long history in performance cat racing, producing several world champion cat sailors and regularly attracting state and national title events. The club is there only to serve the sailors – no pokies and no restaurants – not that you would have realised that, after restaurant quality food was served up all weekend by the club volunteers lead by head chef Peter Lane. The simplicity of the club has its own charm and enjoying a sundowner overlooking the fleet on the bay certainly added to it and capped off an epic day of sailing.
Saturday brought light winds at first, meaning the 3rd race was abandoned, but after lunch a sunny North Easterly kicked in up to 15 knots. Flyer got to stretch her legs again and with that the spinnaker was hoisted and we were hitting double digit speeds once again as we fought our way through the fleet with the occasional, “yew!” For a pocket cruiser that is quite nicely fitted out with bunk beds, carpet liner, a small galley and a head, the Flyer was living up to its namesake.
Photo by Arthur Gargett
After all racing was complete, KCC put on a fantastic presentation party complete with live entertainment and good prizes. The kids didn’t miss out either with a prize for the youngest sailor Archie (10 years) being awarded a vest for his efforts. Young Archie is part of KCC’s Bic youth sailing class and now starting to crew on the larger beach cats too – this 16 boat strong squad is rapidly growing and bringing new young blood into the club, that will no doubt solidify Kurnell as one of Australia’s great catamaran clubs in the future.
Photo by Arthur Gargett
Flyer managed to take out 2nd place in the racing division, while a GBE Sportsdeck “What a Corker” sailed by Greg Bridges won the division. Seawind 850 “Toucan Tango” sailed by Rick & Cas Crowe won the cruising division while Seawind 1200 “Duet” won the Seawind division along with the regatta overall after an outstanding performance by Peter Backhouse.
The Mega Multihull Central Regatta is held every Easter and all multihulls with sleeping accommodation are welcome to participate.
Multihull Central’s next regatta is the Seawind Whitsunday Rally on the 14-21st of June.
Flyer is available for purchase and you can find the full specifications and details at multihallcntrl.wpengine.com/flyer
Division 1 – Cruising | Division 2 – Seawind | Division 3 – Racing
(16 = DNC: Did not come to the starting area | DNF: Started but did not finish)
|1st||Duet||Seawind 1200||P. Backhouse||2||.60||(3)||6||2||6||14|
|2nd||What-a-Corka||GBE Sportsdeck||G. Bridges||3||.65||(7)||3||3||8||14|
|3rd||Grinner||Beach Marine 25||R. Peipman||1||.54||(2)||4||10||1||15|
|4th||Brainwaves||Seawind 1000||D. Cain||2||.58||(8)||7||1||7||15|
|5th||Toucan Tango||Seawind 850||R&C. Crowe||1||.517||(5)||1||6||9||16|
|6th||Drift Wood||Seawind 24||J. Dagher||2||.513||(9 DNF)||2||8||10||20|
|7th||Flyer||Turissimo 9||B. Vaughan||3||.65||(16)||14||9||2||25|
|8th||Kalim||MGM 14||M. Ginisty||3||.72||(9 DNF)||8||14||3||252|
|9th||Duke||Crowther 31||B. Chandler||3||.718||(16 )||9||12||4||5|
|10th||Manyana||Seawind 1160||T. Wainwright||3||.686||(6)||5||8||12||25|
|11th||Juggernaut||Beach 35||P. Booth||3||.732||(4)||10||13||5||28|
|12th||Avanti||Seawind 1000||B. Coulter||2||.590||(9 DNF)||13||5||11||29|
|13th||Margaritaville||Seawind 1000||S. Dykes||2||.432||(9 DNF)||11||4||16||31|
|14th||Lions Den||Seawind 850||R. Fricker||1||.585||(16)||12||11||13 DNF||36|
|15th||Montage||Beach Marine 9||B. Hampson||1||.565||(1)||16||16||16||48|
Video by Greg Wyers