Melbourne To Launceston (M2L)

The newest competitor

for Australia's oldest ocean race.

Malcolm Mitchell’s Bavaria 44 ‘Caledonia’ is the first keelboat he’s owned and this Christmas he and ‘Caledonia’s crew will be embarking on their first silly season race. They are all set to become the newest competitors in our country’s oldest ocean race, the Kidder Williams Melbourne to Launceston. Now at 44 feet, they are well in the running to have a tilt at the “Dash for the Cash” across the Paddock to break the record as set in 2002 by Don and Nigel Jones on ‘Cadibarra’ (VIII) with her crew. There’s $1000.00 up for grabs, which will go a long way to a charity or a crew's bar tab.


'Caledonia' racing on Port Phillip.

Anyway, let’s not put a hex or any unwarranted pressure on them and have a look at them and their campaign for their inaugural crossing. Without question, the main reason for ‘Caledonia’ to be taken out into the big blue is for Malcolm and crew to gain something from the experience, build that life-long database of sailing knowledge and to enjoy it on the way! As you can see from the pics here, that seems to be a plan they are already well and truly capable of administering. They have been plying the waters of Port Phillip in all weather and also had a soiree up to Hamilton Island last year. Malcolm bought the boat new in October of 2004 with the main aim of cruising and for family holidays. They’ve certainly done that, but they’re the first to admit they have also found the allure of Bay racing. Partaking in the whole Rudder Cup Series means they will certainly learn something of sailing in different conditions, as they first take on Port Phillip in the Cock of the Bay, then the dash across Bass Strait and finally the very picturesque inshore waters around the mouth of the Tamar River, all three are unique races in just five days.


Our majestic Fraser Island

Malcolm is no stranger to water, having previously been involved in windsurfing and Lasers. Before moving to Melbourne in 2002, he’d also been crewing on keelboats out of Sydney’s Middle Harbour Yacht Club. He joined RBYC in 2004, bought the boat and then needed crew! A great club boat, all the crew have been found at RBYC or come to RBYC from other venues. Onboard for the M2L will be Paul Pascoe, Paul Jenkins, Shane Davies, Kim Barnard and Crawford Wintersgill. “When my crew and I initially discussed preparing to compete in the M2L, the first thing we agreed on, was that we would do everything necessary to be properly prepared to race”, Malcolm told me and they weren’t joking either. All of them have their radio certificate, they have the required number of first-aiders amongst their numbers, most have completed the June SSSC with the balance doing the September course. “We all thought the SSSC was very worthwhile and I consider the MROCP fundamental”, he then added of the SSSC, “…we now have instigated safety briefings for anyone who is new to the boat and routinely wear our life vests.”


'Caledonia' at anchor in the delightful Whitsundays...

David James has acted as Malcolm’s mentor, assisting with ensuring the boat was properly equipped for the great Northern expedition and was there for some of the delivery. David was also their mentor for the Melbourne Latitude Series race in June this year and took the opportunity to run through important elements like safety drills and MOB. David will also be ‘Caledonia’s Cat2 Auditor before the M2S at the end of October.

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The Hamilton Island crew and all preparations and education have been undertaken by Malcolm and the crew.

I always like to ask what the shore crew has to say about it all and in Malcolm’s case, his wife Kirsten actually races with him on the Bay in the warmer months and they plan to do some cruising round Tasmania after the M2L. Now that’s supportive and reminds me of when I was a boy and our family flew down to bring the boat back… (only a few years ago - right!) Kirsten has also undertaken some competent crew courses and looked after everything at home when Malcolm took 12 weeks off in 2008 to deliver the boat both ways and participate at both the Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island regattas.

Hopefully Malcolm will be able to join fellow RBYCers, Roger and Michelle Wale, in detailing their methods and experiences in getting ready to go blue water racing at the next ORCV MLS introduction evening.

At any rate, well done ‘Caledonia’ and crew on choosing to go and “stick your nose in it” and all the very best for your campaign. We’ll be watching and reporting closely on your progress. One final note is that there’s one dash Malcolm and the crew assure me they’ll win, should the weather be inclement at the start: - the one to the bar.


The proud owner on the transom and with his family at RYCV in Williamstown


By John Curnow


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