24 Aug 2015
Elliott 1350 Tourer, “Fortuna”, designed and built in New Zealand as an offshore cruising yacht, took line honours in 6 out of 6 races at the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and in 6 out of 6 races at Airlie Beach Race Week the Non Spinnaker division.... Adding to the trophy cabinet sat Hamilton Island “Fortuna” was awarded the Overall Regatta Gun Boat Prize and also brought home a 1st on handicap in the 6th race. This outstanding result is rendered even more impressive as no measures were taken to remove cruising conveniences from the yacht; she competed in style with every home comfort onboard.
Cruising for several months throughout the Pacific, Greg Elliott, Elliott Marine’s design director, was driven to test the true capabilities of the craft by entering the Tourer in the two events that have helped establish the Whitsundays as one of Australia’s sailing capitals. With large fleets in both of the cruising division events, an array of production yachts represented the opportunity to readily compare her performance against other major design house’s output. Elliott certainly knows how to set a challenge; 30 yachts up to 60ft competed in the non-spinnaker division at Hamilton Island Race Week alone. Given Fortuna placed 9th overall on elapsed time against 100 yachts from both spinnaker and non-spinnaker divisions competing in the final race, Elliott also knows how to raise the bar.
“From a yacht design perspective it was confirmation of the superior performance of Elliott Tourers over other production yachts on the market today. An Elliott Tourer is an exceptional true cruising yacht with exceptional performance” says Elliott.
“The Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island Regattas proved the boat’s sailing prowess” says crew member Stu Reed, himself an owner of an Elliott 1350 Tourer. “The results, 12 guns from 12 starts with a winning margin that at times was massive, indicated that we had the legs on 90% of the fleet. I cannot speak highly enough of the boat’s all round performance. Its been a fantastic couple of weeks on the mighty Fortuna.”
Despite having no spinnaker for the downwind legs she was consistently higher and faster upwind finishing well ahead of many of the larger cruisers; a theme established in the Tourer’s performance at Airlie. “We were by no means the biggest boat but by far the fastest in powered up conditions” says crew member Richard Bicknell, general manager of North Sails NZ. “We had one drifter that could have gone to any of about 4 boats but we managed to hold off the others and take the win.” Complex courses, extreme tides and oscillating winds in both races combined with the challenge of racing in the non-spinnaker division brought new demands from a navigational point of view. “Tides are strong in the Whitsundays. It was quite a change in focus sailing in a no extras division. You pretty much had to relax and back your calls” says Bicknell. “Our goal at the start of the week was to win every race on line honours. The last beat of the last race was one I remember clearly. We nailed the shifts well in Pioneer Bay and put enough time on the others to take both line and handicap.”
“On all points of sail and in a range of wind strengths Fortuna performed exceptionally well, readily showing boat speed advantage over all the other yachts of various designs in this division” comments crew member Peter Lory who was frequently on the helm in both events.
A pilothouse designed cruising yacht, the Tourer offered the crew protection from the elements but also boasts a spacious luxury lounging area. Integrating the cockpit and the pilothouse on a similar level creates a natural indoor-outdoor flow as well as delivering a stunning 360 degree exterior view whilst seated in the saloon. Sail handling systems are kept simple resulting in uncluttered decks and clean attractive lines that also leave more space for recreational equipment. “We were questioned by a lot of fellow competitors about how well she sails for a cruising boat” adds Bicknell. “As soon as they saw the interior they were sold!”