Jeanneau Most Popular Choice for Melbourne Osaka
If you were choosing your mount for a marathon short-handed ocean race, one of your first priorities would be a boat that would go the distance, followed closely by ensuring it was reasonably fast and easily handled. For anyone familiar with the offshore scene in Europe, it would be no surprise that the Jeanneau Sun Fast was a popular choice for aspiring Melbourne Osaka crews. But few people would have predicted that these slippery little racers would form a significant part of the race – more than a quarter of the fleet in fact.
When Jeanneau produced a fast and manageable small boat for entrants in the Transquadra – a trans-Atlantic race for over 40s – and other similar races, their estimated demand of perhaps a couple dozen boats was out by a factor of about ten. Designer Daniel Andrieu was commissioned to produce a fast and rewarding boat capable of handling the stresses of ocean racing. Andrieu says “I tried to make the Sun Fast 3200 a very high-performance boat than remains easy to handle, and above all, a fun boat, whether offshore or rounding three buoys.”
It seems he succeeded, as the design proved both fast and tough. It quickly became popular with short- and single-handed racers and went on to win the 2008 European Yacht of the Year award. The 3200 was followed in 2013 by the equally successful Sun Fast 3600. David White, co-skipper of the Sun Fast 3600 Kraken, was very impressed with the Sun Fast 3200 when he participated in the 2008/9 Transquadra.
Fast forward to 2018, and the 5500 nautical mile two-handed Melbourne – Osaka Cup, Australia’s longest Category 1 race and the equivalent of eight consecutive Sydney-Hobarts. The race is designed to encourage true seamanship, and advance the development of seaworthy, short-handed yachts suitable for long distance voyaging. Over one quarter of this year’s entrants were Jeanneaus – a lone Sun Fast 3200 and three Sun Fast 3600s.
Rupert Henry and Greg O’Shea’s Judel-Vrolijk 62 Chinese Whisper took line honours, setting a race record of 21 days, 12 hours and 41 minutes. The Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600 Kraken finished with an elapsed time of 34:08:37, 3rd on PHS, and 2nd on IRC, ahead of sister ships Maverick (4th PHS,/3rd IRC), and Mister Lucky (6th PHS/5th IRC). Mister Lucky’s preparation included the 2016 Solo Fastnet (UK) and third place in the 2017 OSTAR single-handed trans-Atlantic race.
The Edge, the little Sun Fast 3200 from WA, was hampered by partial rigging failure – a stranded shroud – but plugged on cheerfully under reduced sail to finish in 41 days, 10 hours and 22 minutes. The WA boys found it helpful to divide the race into segments of familiar races. For instance, with less than 1000 miles to go, they reckoned they only had to do the equivalent of a Sydney Hobart plus a couple of Perth to Geraldton races. Nothing to it!
The success of the Sun Fast range in such demanding blue water races demonstrates both the design ability of Daniel Andrieu and the integrity of Jeanneau’s construction. In these days when gun racing boats are lucky to manage a Bass Strait crossing, it is refreshing to see production boats that are both fast enough to compete and strong enough to go the distance.
Sun Fast 3600 'Kraken' at the finish of the Melbourne To Hobart Yacht Race 2017.
Mr Lucky approaches the finish line of the Sydney To Hobart Yacht Race 2017