Maxi Ragamuffin makes a yacht racing comeback
THE well known yacht and former Sydney-Hobart winner, Maxi Ragamuffin, made a comeback to racing this year at Hamilton Island Race Week.
Maxi Ragamuffin spent many years in the Whitsundays as a charter boat; however the 27 tonne yacht had not raced for 21 years until this week.
Maxi Ragamuffin is a German Frers design built in Mona Vale in Sydney in 1979.
In the same year, when racing as Bumblebee IV for John Kahlbetzer, the boat took line honours in the Sydney-Hobart.
Under Syd Fischer’s charge another two line honours triumphs would belong to the famous maxi and Ragamuffin moniker in 1988 and 1990.
The boat joined the 93-boat fleet at the inaugural Hamilton Island Race Week in 1984 before it was converted to a day charter boat in 1993 and remained in the Whitsundays until last year.
The yacht had a make-over in 2010 after being damaged in Cyclone Ului.
Maxi Ragamuffin’s new owner Keith Batt has grand plans for the 80-footer he purchased less than a year ago, starting with Audi Hamilton Island Race Week followed by the Rolex Sydney-Hobart race in December.
In seven years, Maxi Ragamuffin will head to Europe and the UK to retrace the epic sailing journey of the Nant Estate’s original settler who made the 10,000 mile journey from Cardiff to Van Diemen’s Land in 1821 to set up a whisky distillery.
Some yachts in the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week fleet have power winches, electric furling sails and canting keels.
But it’s old-fashioned grunt on Maxi Ragamuffin with the original cleats and winches and plenty of lugging, grinding and a heart-starting workout at every sail change and hoist for the 17-man crew.
Given its vintage, trying to find parts for the aging deck ware is proving challenging.
Graham ‘Scooter’ Eaton from AME is overseeing the refurbishment and he’s had to arrange for replacement parts to be specially milled.
Some of the boat’s original sails dusted off for Race Week haven’t been used since 1993; dug out of storage in Airlie Beach.
Also in Maxi Ragamuffin’s cruising division 1 is another big boat from a by-gone era - Condor, a two-time line honours winner in the SydneyHobart race and winner of the famous Fastnet race out of England, and Whitebirds, an aluminium built Kel Steinman design originally launched as Bobsled.
OL' TIMER: Maxi Ragamuffin in action during Audi Hamilton Island Race Week just off Dent Island. Photo by Andrea Francolini/AUDI.
DOCKSIDE: Maxi Ragamuffin owner Keith Batt at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. Photo by Andrea Francolini/AUDI.