Houdini crew after a Magical Weekend to book their tickets to the Seawanhaka Invitational

 In Club Racing, Member Interest, News

After a typically tight battle all year in the Sports Boat division, skipper Bob Cook and the crew of the Houdini have checked off one achievement in winning the CBRE Club Championship – but now turn their attention to this weekend. Cook and Houdini are moving up to the MRX fleet for CBRE Club Championship Finals and an opportunity at representing the RNZYS at the Seawanhaka Invitational Cup in a month’s time.

With sports boats being a 3 man crew, Cook has drafted in fellow sports boat skippers Cliff Gordon and Anne Hurst, alongside Brent Gribble, Ben Walkley and John McLarin to represent the Sports Boat division. They will be challenged by 6 other victorious crews from across the RNZYS’s club sailing season, with crews from Carrera, Mojo, Juniper, Hysteria, Psyche and the MRX winners aboard Benefitz.

The Houdini crew booked their ticket to Finals Weekend by emerging this season to win the Winter Series, Wednesday Series and the CBRE City of Sails Auckland Regatta. However, Cook has not taken this year on the water for granted, saying “It’s a true testament to the whole crew – Race Committee, the behind the scenes team, sponsors and the racing crew – that we actually got out sailing this year”.

Houdini mid-send as part of the Doyle Sails Wednesday Series – William Woodworth/RNZYS

“What a season it has been –  with racing planned; crew sorted, and boats prepped and tweaked, COVID hits and cancels racing.  We can all repeat that story again for all the regattas this season”.

However, the move back into 6 person crews and the MRX fleet is going to be a key challenge for the team to overcome if they want to book their tickets for the Seawanhaka Invitational. 

“The layout, feel and general set up on the MRX will be a change – to get our heads back into the keel boat space, we have been discussing options and technics as a team via WhatsApp and gaining great insight from Sarah and Sally who just successfully competed on the MRX’s in the Women’s Keelboat National:”.

“In addition; Cliff, John and I have been sailing on Ma Te Wa through their build up & race to the 3 Kings, and Brent and I have been sailing together in the Elliot 7’s on the Thursday nights.”

Cook credits the community of Sports Boat sailors with selflessly assisting him in the transition to the smaller racing boats from his former boat, the 4 tonne Oracle. 

“We started with a keen team that was trying to gybe Houdini like I would my old boat, and there were a few races that we wiped out every gybe and were dead last. Chris Hirst (Enigma) pulled me to one side and commented, “have you thought about tweaking this …”  It worked and we got a bit faster”.  

“In the last few years, Anne (Team Sex), Cliffy (Cliff Hanger) and Chris, alongside others, have all commented … “have you thought tweaking …”  each time we have got a little bit faster.  We have learnt or been reminded the difference between a 4 tonne coastal racer and a sports boat”.

However Cook couldn’t be happier with the move he made to the Magic 25 class, saying “It’s been great sailing with the supportive Magic 25 team, relearning sailing and understanding the true meaning of “SEND IT”.

“Three years ago I bought Houdini; I’d been sailing coastal races short-handed where we would sail for 2 to 3 days and try to get 4 tonnes of boat on the send at an incredible 14 knots – oh how my outlook has changed!”, Cook joked.

Cook and the Houdini crew couldn’t speak more highly about the Sports Boat classes, and would love to see more sailors looking for a bit more speed and excitement to join the incredibly supportive community around the country.

“Sailing these smaller boats is great fun – what other fleet can pass a “A” class keeler at 18 knots for the capital cost for one of their heads sails?”

“Most importantly, having a supportive and keen crew that have been turning up every week and commenting “we could tweak this or that”  has been fantastic – every day on the water we have improved”.

Despite the interrupted sailing season, the Magic fleet have continued to race across the North Island with regatta’s as far as the Bay of Islands and Wellington.

“When travelling with the sport boat teams, I’m always amazed by the warm welcome and support we have from the home teams and we are looking forward to May, where we will be racing in Taupo”.

We wish Bob and the Houdini crew all the best as they return to the larger MRX fleet for the CBRE Club Championship Finals, and look forward to a great weekend on the water to cap off the 2021-22 summer season and decide the overall Club Champion. For a peek into Sports Boat racing, see Downwind Duel HD 1080p – YouTube

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