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Howth's Gordon Maguire on Ichi Ban Wins Sydney Hobart for a Second Time

30th December 2019
Ichi Ban crew with Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman, General Manager of Rolex Australia Patrick Boutellier, Ichi Ban owner Matt Allen, RYCT Commodore Tracy Matthews and CYCA Commodore Paul Billingham, with the Rolex timepiece and Tattersall Cup Ichi Ban crew with Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman, General Manager of Rolex Australia Patrick Boutellier, Ichi Ban owner Matt Allen, RYCT Commodore Tracy Matthews and CYCA Commodore Paul Billingham, with the Rolex timepiece and Tattersall Cup

The number one racing boat in Australia has been declared the overall winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart for a second time, as this morning Matt Allen was advised his TP52, Ichi Ban, was to yet again have its name engraved on the Tattersall Cup. Allen's crew includes sailing master Gordon Maguire (57), based in Sydney but originally from Howth Yacht Club in County Dublin. It is Maguire's fourth overall win of the Cup, the first being as far back as 1991 with John Storey in Atara.

Allen, a member of the Australian Olympic Committee and immediate past president of Australian Sailing, launched Ichi Ban in late December 2017. It has paid him back tenfold since. Some of the highlights include: 2017 – line and overall double in Newcastle Bass Island Race (its first race); won Rolex Sydney Hobart overall.

“To win again this year is just incredible,” Allen remarked, after sailing his 30th Sydney Hobart.

“We’ve spent so many years putting this boat together with two aims – winning the Sydney Hobart and winning the Blue Water Pointscore (BWPS),” the yachtsman said when told he had won both the race and the BWPS from Matt Donald and Chris Townsend’s Gweilo and Bob Steel and Craig Neil’s Quest – in both events.

In 2018, Allen skippered Ichi Ban to wins in the Australian Yachting Championships (won all eight races); Brisbane to Gladstone, Flinders Islet and Newcastle Bass Island and Bird Island races, and the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore. Ichi Ban was also named RORC Yacht of the Year.

In 2019, Ichi Ban’s wins included Division 1 of the Australian Yachting Championships; Adelaide Port Lincoln Race (also taking line honours), the Brisbane Hamilton Island, Flinders Islet and Newcastle Bass Island races. These performances landed the TP52 in the finals of the 2019 World Sailing Boat of the Year.

“I helped in the design process,” Allen said. “We put the right package together; the boat, crew and culture. We all just go and work and sail hard together; there are no egos on board. It’s a fulfilment of the sailing capability of the crew and the whole project.

“In 2016, I invited Gordon Maguire (a highly respected yachtsman) to have coffee with me and told him I was putting a new boat together. He has been with me since.

“Gordon, Anthony Merrington, Robert Greenhalgh, Dick Parker, Will (Oxley), James Paterson, Dav (Davin Conigrave) – his third win in nine races; Tim Sellars, Sean (O’Rourke), Charles Kosecki, James Corrie, Matiu (Te Hau), Ashley (Deeks) and Jeremy (Rae). A really amazing group of guys; experienced and calm.

“All the campaigns have really stepped up this year; people have tried to emulate what we have done. There’s no doubt about the competition in this race - in the 44 to 55 footers alone, it is incredible,” Allen said. “You wouldn’t find the competition we have in this race anywhere else in the world.

“We’ve had conditions to suit these boats the last few years in the Sydney Hobart. You go so fast in the north-easterlies; you go very fast. One year we’ll get southerlies again though.”

Allen has been blooded by some of legends in yachting. “I always remember my great sailing times with Lou Abrahams – he won two,” says Allen who raced with the great Victorian yachtsman when he won in 1983.

“I took some time out on that first afternoon to think about Lou and Trygve (Halvorsen), and others that I sailed with that meant something to me,” he said.

Reflecting on his and the crew’s win, Allen said, “It was right to the bitter end. We came around Tasman with a great lead on the others and then Gweilo came back within 2 miles. It would have been on – we would have had to match race them.

“We had to watch Quest (2008 winner, then 2015 winner as Balance, and runner-up to Ichi Ban in 2017 by just 10 minutes) too, and wondered how it would work out.”

Steel and Neil’s Quest was leading the race down the Tasmanian Coast, but found a parking lot that killed their chances.

“Envy Scooters is my previous TP52, and she was always there, sailing with us too,” said the yachtsman who thought the winners would come from the 60 footers down to as small as Daguet 3 (a Ker 46).

“We didn’t go upwind enough to open the door for the smaller boats. The closer we got to the finish, we thought the smaller boats would get shutdown. We were confident that if it came down to the TPs, we were in the box seat.”

In the end, TP52s claimed the top three places overall, with Ichi Ban first, Gweilo second and Quest third.

“We knew we had to beat Quest by over an hour to win,” Allen said of the yacht that has twice won the race and was looking good to win until they found a parking lot in Storm Bay,” Allen said.

“It was fast conditions on Friday night. They (Quest) had the pedal down and so did we.

We were always looking at Gweilo and my old boat, Envy Scooters (Barry Cuneo), too. They were always up to different things.

“We had our game plan. We didn’t alter it for them, but you always keep an eye on them. Once or twice we almost changed it, but decided against it.

“Ichi Ban is two years old now, so we know a lot more about it than we did in the beginning. There were a couple of things that we were still making up as we went along when we won in 2017.

“The boat is great. It’s a good all round boat and doesn’t really have a weakness. You never know what conditions you are going to get, but we are confident that we can push her hard and we do push her hard. It’s a great, fun boat to sail.”

Ichi Ban will next head to the Australian Yachting Championships, to be hosted by the Rolex Sydney Hobart finishing partner Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, starting in three days’ time.

“We’ll go there to try and defend the title we won last year. It will be predominantly the same crew as the Hobart minus a couple. Three days of sailing in some of the trickiest waters in Australia…”

Published in Sydney to Hobart
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The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is an annual offshore yacht racing event with an increasingly international exposure attracting super maxi yachts and entries from around tne world. It is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, New South Wales on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart, Tasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).

The 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starts in Sydney Harbour at 1pm (AEDT) on Monday 26 December.

This is the 77th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart. The inaugural race was conducted in 1945 and has run every year since, apart from 2020, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

88 boats started the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart, with 50 finishing.

The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - FAQs

The number of Sydney Hobart Yacht Races held by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia since 1945 is 75

6,257 completed the Sydney Hobart Yacht race, 1036 retired or were disqualified)

About 60,061 sailors have competed in the Sydney Hobart Race between 1945 and 2019

Largest fleets: 371 starters in the 50th race in 1994 (309 finished); 154 starters in 1987 (146 finished); 179 starters in 1985 (145 finished); 151 starters in 1984 (46 finished); 173 started in 1983 (128 finished); 159 started in 1981 (143 finished); 147 started in 1979 (142 finished); 157 started in 2019 (154 finished)

116 in 2004 (59 finished); 117 in 2014 (103 finished); 157 in 2019 (154 finished)

Nine starters in the inaugural Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 1945

In 2015 and 2017 there were 27, including the 12 Clipper yachts (11 in 2017). In the record entry of 371 yachts in the 50th in 1994, there were 24 internationals

Rani, Captain John Illingworth RN (UK). Design: Barber 35’ cutter. Line and handicap winner

157 starters, 154 finishers (3 retirements)

IRC Overall: Ichi Ban, a TP52 owned by Matt Allen, NSW. Last year’s line honours winner: Comanche, Verdier Yacht Design and VPLP (FRA) owned by Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant, in 1 day 18 hours, 30 minutes, 24 seconds. Just 1hour 58min 32secs separated the five super maxis at the finish 

1 day 9 hours 15 minutes and 24 seconds, set in 2017 by LDV Comanche after Wild Oats XI was penalised one hour in port/starboard incident for a finish time of 1d 9h 48m 50s

The oldest ever sailor was Syd Fischer (88 years, 2015).

As a baby, Raud O'Brien did his first of some six Sydney Hobarts on his parent's Wraith of Odin (sic). As a veteran at three, Raud broke his arm when he fell off the companionway steps whilst feeding biscuits to the crew on watch Sophie Tasker sailed the 1978 race as a four-year-old on her father’s yacht Siska, which was not an official starter due to not meeting requirements of the CYCA. Sophie raced to Hobart in 1979, 1982 and 1983.

Quite a number of teenage boys and girls have sailed with their fathers and mothers, including Tasmanian Ken Gourlay’s 14-year-old son who sailed on Kismet in 1957. A 12-year-old boy, Travis Foley, sailed in the fatal 1998 race aboard Aspect Computing, which won PHS overall.

In 1978, the Brooker family sailed aboard their yacht Touchwood – parents Doug and Val and their children, Peter (13), Jacqueline (10), Kathryne (8) and Donald (6). Since 1999, the CYCA has set an age limit of 18 for competitors

Jane (‘Jenny’) Tate, from Hobart, sailed with her husband Horrie aboard Active in the 1946 Race, as did Dagmar O’Brien with her husband, Dr Brian (‘Mick’) O’Brien aboard Connella. Unfortunately, Connella was forced to retire in Bass Strait, but Active made it to the finish. The Jane Tate Memorial Trophy is presented each year to the first female skipper to finish the race

In 2019, Bill Barry-Cotter brought Katwinchar, built in 1904, back to the start line. She had competed with a previous owner in 1951. It is believed she is the oldest yacht to compete. According to CYCA life member and historian Alan Campbell, more than 31 yachts built before 1938 have competed in the race, including line honours winners Morna/Kurrewa IV (the same boat, renamed) and Astor, which were built in the 1920s.

Bruce Farr/Farr Yacht Design (NZL/USA) – can claim 20 overall wins from 1976 (with Piccolo) up to and including 2015 (with Balance)

Screw Loose (1979) – LOA 9.2m (30ft); Zeus II (1981) LOA 9.2m

TKlinger, NSW (1978) – LOA 8.23m (27ft)

Wild Oats XI (2012) – LOA 30.48m (100ft). Wild Oats XI had previously held the record in 2005 when she was 30m (98ft)

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