Whisper becomes a shout for the GROUPAMA Race

Whisper becomes a shout for the GROUPAMA Race_0
Whisper becomes a shout for the GROUPAMA Race_0

Retirement has afforded David Griffith the freedom to pick and choose theocean races he fancies will best suit the Sydney-based Reichel/Pugh 62called Chinese Whisper he jointly owns with Rupert Henry. The unique NewCaledonia's GROUPAMA Race<> is nowmarked in the team's calendar with their recent entry.

A demanding South Pacific adventure of 654 nautical miles, the GROUPAMA raceis biennial and in 2020 the event returns, timed to follow on from theCruising Yacht Club of Australia's PONANT Sydney Noumea Yacht Race<> . The CYCA's longest bluewater race of 1,064nmsmade a comeback in 2018, drawing an encouraging fleet of 22 and feeding goodinternational numbers into the GROUPAMA race that year.

"I've got this wonderful boat that is best used and perfectly designed forlong races," said Griffith. "My last Hobart before 2019 was in 1983 or 84then work and children came along so I stayed closer to home, sailingEtchells. Now I've retired I can get back into having as many adventures aswe can; there's no point having Chinese Whisper sitting there doingnothing."

Under the direction of sailing master Michael Coxon and a top-notch crewincluding Stacey Jackson and Tom Braidwood, Chinese Whisper scored seventhon line honours and fifth overall in the 75th anniversary Rolex SydneyHobart Yacht Race last December. The boat underwent some mods prior to thebig race, including a longer bow sprit and the bulb moved aft, whichimproved performance says Griffith.

Following Port Lincoln Race Week, where Rupert Henry will step aboard,Chinese Whisper will be tweaked again. Decisions are being finalised betweenthe owners, original designers Judel Vrolijk and Coxon on potential changeswith the key objective to remove weight. "It's a 10 year-old boat so we'lldo what's possible to make it as relevant as we can before the two longraces, without penalizing ourselves on IRC handicap too much."

The Whisper team have a big year planned. From the GROUPAMA race the boatwill return to Sydney for the Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race start,then continue north for series of races and regattas. Following the 2020Rolex Sydney Hobart the campaign could shift to Europe and/or the Caribbean.

Chinese Whisper is the largest entry so far among a joint New Caledonia andAustralian field, which is expected to expand to New Zealand and include the2018 line honours winner Miss Scarlet.

As well as fully crewed (minimum of 3 crew) monohull and multihullcategories, organising club Cercle Nautique Calédonien is, for the firsttime since the debut GROUPAMA Race in 2008, offering a shorthanded division(minimum of 2) plus a cruising division.

<> Enterhere before Wednesday May 20. <> Watch theGROUPAMA 2020 video

A crew party on Friday June 19 marks the start of the pre-race celebrationsand on Saturday June 20 competitors will attend the official race andweather briefing. For the planned 10am race start on Sunday June 21, NewCaledonians will be out in numbers on boats and along the waterfront, wherethe international fleet parade past in the opening short legs of the course.The race boats then make for open water, sailing anti-clockwise along theeast coast, through the beautiful UNESCO listed lagoon to the north and backdown the west coast to the finish just inside Noumea's Port Moselle harbour.

Both the current monohull and multihull race records were established in2016.

By Lisa Ratcliff

  • Posted by: viking
  • Date: 16 Feb 2020
  • Category: Sail
  • Region: Pacific Ocean
  • Comments: 0


There are no comments yet.