Andoo Comanche crowned overall winner of Tollgate Islands Race
Andoo Comanche skipper John Winning Jr says he is “pushing the limits” of the famous 100-foot maxi, after claiming the overall victory in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s inaugural Tollgate Islands Race.
The VPLP 100 took Line Honours in the 260 nautical mile race, the third race in the 2022/23 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore, and celebrations continued after Andoo Comanche was also confirmed as the winner on handicap.
The overall win caps off a valuable hit out for Winning Jr and his crew, who have enjoyed an impressive start to the two-year charter of a boat which has won Line Honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race three times and still holds the race record.
“It’s becoming more natural to me to sail,” Winning Jr said. “We’ve worked out how to sail her in light air.
“We’re pushing the limits a bit and seeing what we can do.”
Andoo Comanche made the most of good breeze at the start of the Tollgate Islands Race and on the journey down to the islands, reaching top speeds of 27 knots and averaging 12.7kts throughout the race.
With no other maxis in the fleet, the focus was on fine tuning as preparations ramp up for the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
“We’re really happy with how the Tollgate Islands Race went for us,” said Sailing Master Iain Murray AM.
“We’ve done a lot of work on the boat, so it has been completely disassembled and put back together.
“To go in that race with quite a mix of conditions and most of the sails going up and down, it was a really good race for us and the boat worked perfectly.
“It’s always nice to race the other boats, but the good thing for us is that it allowed us to go through what we needed to do on the boat and test the systems that have been pulled apart, put back together and refurbished.
“Ahead of the Rolex Sydney Hobart, it was nice to do it in our time, in our sequence, without the pressure of other boats.”
Having successfully navigated light air to win Line Honours in the 2022 Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, Andoo Comanche is looming as the one to beat in the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart.
The stage is being set for an entertaining Line Honours battle, with 100-footers Black Jack, Hamilton Island Wild Oats and LawConnect all part of the fleet of 100+ boats so far.
Murray, an America’s Cup winner and multiple-times Line Honours winner in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, is pleased with Andoo Comanche’s progress.
“The sails used [in the Tollgate Islands Race] were as expected and we got back when we thought we would, so it’s nice to validate our processes,” he said.
“The boat, mechanically and structurally, is in good shape. We’re working on a newish team getting together, getting communications right and selecting the sails we’re going to use, so that’s ongoing and will evolve over time.
“It’s all about getting the boat ready, preparing for the race, creating a playbook and seeing how good we are at doing what’s on our run sheet.”
Andoo Comanche’s closest challenger for overall honours was Anthony Johnston’s Reichel/Pugh 72 URM Group, skippered by Marcus Ashley-Jones.
URM Group was second over the line after just over 1 day and 2 hours, also securing second place on corrected time ahead of Sean Langman’s Reichel/Pugh 69 Moneypenny.
Moneypenny, URM Group and Andoo Comanche each have an overall win from the three races so far in the 2022/23 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore.
Crux continues to find solutions
Andoo Comanche also won on PHS handicap, beating the two-handed Crux (Carlos Aydos’ S&S 34, co-skippered by Peter Grayson) and Alexander Flecknoe-Brown’s X-41 Patrice Six to top spot.
Crux was again one of the standout performers, winning on all three handicaps in Division 2 and the Two-Handed Division. She was also the highest-placed Corinthian boat.
URM Group won on ORCi, with Crux and another two-hander, Sun Fast Racing (Lee Condell and Lincoln Dews) on the podium.
Joss, Roberto Comacho’s J/122, won the Wild Rose Pointscore, which features boats with at least 10% female crew members.
Main photo: Andoo Comanche at the start of the 2022 Tollgate Islands Race. Photo CYCA Media