Festival Of Sails

First 2017 Festival of Sails honour to Martini Racing

It took Tony Cuschieri just 10 minutes after online entry opened to lodge the first 2017 Festival of Sails nomination for his self-built, self-branded AC33 created using Australian and New Zealand expertise, and the only racing yacht constructed in Melbourne in eight years.

The lively skipper, whose motto is ‘not to go forwards is to go backwards’, keenly awaited the Royal Geelong Yacht Club’s announcement that entries were open and jumped online straight away to register for the Super 11 division of the Festival of Sails, presented by Rex Gorell Land Rover.

Following a two-year program a disappointed Cuschieri narrowly missed out on completing Martini Racing’s construction and certification to be part of the January 2016 Festival, spurring quick action this time around.

The Super 11 movement is gathering serious pace, particularly in Victoria, and the owner’s group is in discussion with RGYC for the January 21-24 Festival series to double as their inaugural Super 11 Australian Championship.

Martini Racing, sailing for the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, and Cam Rae’s local Thompson 920 Poco Loco were the first to register for the national title for asymmetric, planing-hull boats between 8.5m and 11.2m, or 28 – 36 feet, which will be scored under an AMS handicap system.

Martini Racing is an Anthony Cuschieri (AC) re-creation based on a Thompson 980 Racer/Cruiser boat mould, with the guts and cabin top chain sawed out – he says “the cruiser has lost out to the racer” – and the bow sprit shortened.

The AC33 has watertight fore and aft bulkheads for maximum safety on Port Phillip, which can kick-up a big seaway. It uses a Hugh Welbourn/Dynamic Stability Systems keel, Fred Barrett Yacht Design rudder off a 40-footer, Chris Mitchell/Applied Engineering Services non-backstays rig design from New Zealand and a Doyle Sails wardrobe.

The result is a jointly designed and built Australian-New Zealand 33-foot weapon, with a very cool paint job.

“Some people said I built it arse-about, but I haven’t,” Cuschieri assures. “I’ve built quite a few boats and if you get the smart people together you get the result you want, and I knew what I wanted. We designed a new boat the same waterline length as its sistership (Thompson 980) but with less weight and sail area, making it easier to handle. It trucks upwind and really accelerates off the breeze.”

On being part of another Festival of Sails, Cuschieri says, “We love it; great sailing conditions and fantastic camaraderie on and off the water. I’m looking forward to the four days and the party, party, party. I don’t have a problem getting to the event; it’s the getting home afterwards that’s the hard part!”

Other first-up entries include Shane Kearns’ stunning Sydney based S&S34 Komatsu Azzurro in the Rating Series and local multihull owner, Malcolm Eaton and his Grainger design Celestial-3, the first to nominate for the Multihull Series.

IMAGE – Steb Fisher

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