When a sailing veteran like Geoff Vercoe, whose blue water resume includes more than a half-dozen finishes in the Sydney-Hobart, outlines why he chose as his latest craft a 9.5m Austral, it’s time to listen closely. You see Geoff likes the fact that not only is the Austral Clubman Super 30 an extremely fast race boat that can hold its own with most thirty-six to forty-footers, but it possesses the rare capability of being towed easily around the countryside on a normal boat trailer thanks to its retractable keel and launched from any half-reasonable boat ramp.
This is a pretty stunning concept when you think about it, a sort of have-your-cake-yet-eat- it-too situation combining all the benefits of the mobility long enjoyed by trailer-sailers, but maintaining serious racing capability against dedicated racing yachts. Certainly, it does require a crane to step the mast, but given that most yacht clubs have a suitable facility this is not really a drawback. So whether sailing in a regatta is the purpose of towing to a particular region, or whether cruising is the main item on the travelling agenda, or even both, the Austral Clubman Super 30 fits the bill as very few other craft can.
And unlike most fast racers, where creature comforts come very low on the list, if they’re even on it, the Austral Clubman Super 30 has a superb interior for cruising, with two doubleberths, a stove, a sink, a table and quite generous locker space. This is an impressive achievement given that we are speaking of a craft with a length of 9.5m, a beam of 3.28m and a draft of 2.5m. Total displacement is 2295kg and the vessel is rated for eight occupants. A 12.8hp Bukh diesel powers the craft for close-quarter marina manoeuvring, or on windless days. This is fed from a 20lt fuel tank, while the crew’s fluid needs can be supplemented from the 50lt water tank. Twin Odyssey sealed batteries provide onboard power and a particularly appealing feature of the vessel is the cassette rudder box assembly, which facilitates its easy removal.
Among the Austral’s sailing qualities that Geoff appreciates is a high degree of stiffness thanks to its well-planned keel weight. Together with other features such as sweptback spreaders and non-overlapping headsails, the Austral Clubman Super 30 is readily sailed two-handed. Experienced sailors will recognize that this is no small feat for such a swift yacht and will be aware of how much more usable this makes the craft. We sat opposite each other in the cockpit and he recounted with great pleasure how he’d gone sailing with just his young grandson and his non-sailing daughter aboard with him.
And how that contrasted with his previous yacht, a fortythree footer where he needed to round up at least a half-dozen crew to put to sea. Now using this craft in the manner for which it was intended is something that Geoff certainly does, having cruised the South Australian gulf waters fairly extensively. He also recently sailed the Austral Clubman Super 30 at Hamilton Island in the Australian Offshore IRC Championships and was the highest-scoring 30 footer in both 2000 and 2001. Geoff explained to me that the Austral Clubman Super 30 hull is derived from the Mount Gay 30 hull.
One way of looking at it is to consider it a 30 foot version of a Volvo 60, which is one of the reasons that the craft, to quote Geoff, ‘is so bloody quick!’ The hull is constructed using a composite material, consisting of foam core construction with vinylester resin and using double bias and E-glass cloth. The gelcoat is NPG isothalic, which is top of the range. The advantage of NPG isothalic gelcoat is that it cures to a finish, which is less porous than other types and therefore helps to prevent osmotic blisters. Casting a critical eye over the finish and fittings of this craft left me in no doubt that this vessel was constructed to Austral’s renowned high standards.
If you’re an Aussie sailor who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past 30 years, you’ll know the standard of quality we are speaking of here. Since the company’s inception in 1972 this South Australian company has built a well-deserved reputation for innovation in design, in performance and for bringing a competitively priced product to the marketplace without cutting corners. The plethora of national design awards the company has earned is testament to their ongoing commitment to building a superior product across their range, which includes the Clubman 8 and Clubman 36 models and the Noelex 25 and Noelex 30.
Austral’s managing director Michael Keough and Geoff have a long association and are literally using Geoff’s craft as a research and development platform. Tweaking it here and there in minor ways and planning some major options that will make this outstanding craft even more attractive. The Scott Jutson designed Austral Clubman Super 30 is priced at $165,000 complete plus sails and instruments. A twelve-month warranty is standard. The boat features non-overlapping headsails, a carbon swept back spreader rig, runnerless rig and masthead asymmetric spinnakers.
This is a vessel aimed at the club racing enthusiast and any potential buyer who finds appeal in the unique combination of benefits this vessel provides needs to take a close look at this world-class and indeed, world beating, Australian product.