Firstly, some background for those like me, who are new to the club. Primitive Cool is a Reichel Pugh 51, (RP 51) world class, racing machine, owned and skippered by club member John Newbold. John, a former professional AFL player and now construction company owner, employs Sudsy, a professional sailor, to manage the boat for him. Sudsy is John’s representative in every aspect of boat management, which for a boat like PC, tends to be a full time job. John’s decision to call RMYS home should make us all proud to have a world class racing boat in our midst. John is a proud member of RMYS and his stated desire is to raise the profile of the club to attract boats similar to PC, thus attracting new members and providing an opportunity for existing members to participate in teams that operate at a similar level to PC.
(I plan to chat with John further in the next instalment)
Sudsy impressed on me that in the leading edge of competition in this sport, every little thing counts as well as the big ticket stuff. Talking of big ticket stuff, a competitive outfit will set you back a few million. Look at the price tags of the first and second place getters – making it ridiculously out of reach of the mainstream – hence my focus on boats like PC that are more within reach of the Australian middle class. Then you need a skilled and available/committed crew. Like any team, you need the crew to spend time together, to instinctively react in unison and to anticipate the crew boss and or skippers split second calls. Then there’s the ever present running costs. Despite its abundance on earth, carbon in a keelboat racing context is a frightfully expensive proposition – and in the leading boats, there’s a lot of carbon needed.
In terms of the micro stuff, to the lay person, the idea that each crew member has their dedicated position on the beam…staying there for hours on end, or making sure crew only board with the bare essentials, or that a 7 tonne boat’s performance can be significantly hampered by having one or two crew members missing, seems over the top to a layperson. When you look at these finishes, however, you get the idea that small things add up incrementally and over the period of many hours, it does mean the difference between 3rd and 5th. I further quizzed Sudsy on the details of the recent race the PC team had run to get a better insight into what happens.
In this particular race, PC was third out of the heads, behind Commanche (overall 1st) and Ichi Ban (overall 2nd). To give you an idea, Commanche is a 100 ft maxi and Ichi Ban is a new TP52 - both worth millions of dollars, with world leading professional sailors on board and crews that have a lot of experience sailing together. In contrast, PC has put together a Corinthian crew for this year’s Blue Water Classic, consisting of Melbourne based regulars and some Sydney sourced crew. They had limited time to practice on the water and would find themselves flying in and out on weekends due to their main job commitments. When you consider this, it makes what John, Sudsy and their crew set out to achieve with PC an even more impressive and truly noteworthy proposition.
I then had a quick chat with John, over the phone, and take my hat off to John for his selfless commitment and support for the sport and our club. He is running and funding a world class ocean racing platform, providing an opportunity for Sudsy and other sailors (PC needs 14 crew to operate at its peak) to exercise, develop and of course pass on their skills. Unlike many of the bigger syndicates, there appears to be no commercial sponsorship of PC, which makes it all the more impressive an endeavor. Our club should be proud that John and his team have chosen RMYS as their home for the past few years, and hopefully this can continue to be the case. This commitment of course is present in the efforts of every boat owner in the club who show the same commitment and support for the sport, as evidenced every Wednesday and Saturday, and in no way do I intend to diminish that. Johns efforts, if you like, are an extra step and there are other club boats that have done similar things. Since I first started writing this, there have been two other races in the Blue Water Classic run by the CYCA. My plan is to chat with John and Sudsy again and provide a follow up narrative of those races.
RMYS Member & Volunteer