Gordon Maguire (58) can now be recognized as Australia’s finest all round professional offshore/coastal keelboat skipper – his World Sailing code number is undoubtedly GMA#1 writes WM Nixon. But somewhere in there is the exceptionally talented sailor, son of famous all-around winner Neville Maguire, who cut his teeth in Howth and the Irish Sea.
It was first introduced to Australia in 1991, when he and Kieran Jameson organized “the Howth boat” for the three-boat Irish Southern Cross team with the charter of the 40ft Beyond Thunderdome in Sydney . Beyond Thunderdome was performing superbly in the early contests, but was then dismasted in a collision (the other boat was found to be at fault) in the last inshore race before the series culminated in the Sydney-Hobart.
While Thunderdome received a full repair, there was no way she was running in Hobart. But in a rather ruthless crew reassignment, team captain Harold Cudmore dropped one of his men from John Storey’s 43ft Atara for the Hobart challenge and took Maguire aboard.
Cudmore and Maguire… It looked like the Dream Team. And that was the Dream Team. They won the Sydney-Hobart race overall, Ireland won the Southern Cross Trophy and Gordon Maguire began a love affair with Australian sailing which eventually saw him gain citizenship, although his career afloat has taken him all over the world in many boats, including taking part in something like five successful Volvo Ocean Races to one extreme, and showing people how to get down the mine nice and clean with Jocelyn Waller from Lough Derg YC on the BH 41 Silk in a gale force gust from the Solent during Cowes Week to Coast .
In Australia, he has been involved in the campaign of such stellar owner-skippers as the successful Stephen Ainsworth of Loki (overall victory in the 2011 Hobart Race) and more recently that extraordinary bundle of energy Matt Allen, whose boats called Ichi Ban (number one in Japanese). ) have been so numerous that on occasion there have been two Ichi Bans of different sizes on the Rolex Sydney-Hobart entry list, with the decision to be made as late as possible.
With his engineering background and incredible natural sailing skills, plus the fact that he was raised in a home where his father was always breaking new ground, Gordon Maguire provided the perfect mindset to match the Allen’s restless experimentation, but in recent years they’ve increasingly focused on a boat that, by the standards of the fleet he sails with, is versatile.
The resulting Botin 52 Ichi Ban encompassed the demands of the toughest offshore racing so well with a configuration that can be changed fairly quickly to give optimum performance in a series of regattas with a more coastal orientation. This means that over the past year her list of results has been truly stellar, such that she has been shortlisted for the final three of World Sailing’s 2019 Goslings Boat of the Year award.
This ambitious global competition was launched last year, when the 2018 winner was Niklas Zennstrom’s latest boat, the Carkeek-designed Ran VII, which has brought so many successful ideas to the Fast 40+ circuit that it will take time – years, indeed. – for the best of them to infiltrate the wider sailing scene.
Unfortunately, the fact that Ran VII won last year will militate against Ichi Ban’s chances of success in 2019, as they basically cover the same area of high-end IRC racing, and Ichi Ban is up against two very different, the F50 high-performance catamaran which aims to make sailing a spectacular sport for spectators, and the new Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300, which aims for the affordable end of offshore racing.
The Sun Fast 3300 is something of a full-scale Mini Transat Boat, and the prototype made its successful debut by finishing second in the double-handed division of the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race, beaten only by the formidable Jean-Pierre Kelbert with his new JPK 10.30 Leon, a boat that probably costs a lot more than the Sun Fast 3300 lens.
So, on the way to these annual competitions, there is little chance that the “Gordon Maguire Boat” will get the green light at the 2019 World Sailing Conference in Bermuda on October 29. But nevertheless, we really hope it does, and if not, we’re all for the interesting Sun Fast 3300.
Either way, the next step in the process is the 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race on December 26, when the Sun Fast 3300 makes its Southern Hemisphere debut against a fleet that will, of course, include Ichi Ban. In the meantime, before looking at the circus photos below, carefully read this 2010 interview which continues to be valid for explaining why Gordon Maguire holds such a special place in world sailing: