|Sorcery seen here during the 1984 Clipper Cup (photo Phil Uhl)|
|Sail plan and hull profile drawings of Sorcery as published in NZ Yachting magazine|
Sorcery was a conventional looking yacht, while featuring Mull’s trademarks of the era (as much as these could be differentiated from typical IOR yachts at that time) of a typically steeply angled stem married to a shallow forefoot, with a pronounced bustle around her after girth station. This lead to a long counter with an angled transom with a near vertical cut-off at the stern end. Sorcery was a big and heavy yacht, although her displacement of 79,000lbs was not extreme at this size range.
Sorcery’s righting moment was moderately high, and partially derived from greater beam than the existing Maxi fleet (19ft 9in, as compared with Kialoa IV at 18.5ft, for example). Initially her ‘I’ measurement was to have been 98.5ft, but this was adjusted to 101ft through other changes to the design while remaining within the 70.0ft IOR Maxi rating limit. The keel was unremarkable in plan form and section, and weighed some 47,000lbs, with a draft of 12ft 6in. The elliptical planform rudder was unusual, but one that Mull claimed as the most efficient known in terms of lift/drag ratio where overall span is not limited. With a nod to a favourable measurement under the Engine Propellor Factor component of the IOR, her feathering propellor was some 43in in diameter, and exited the upper trailing edge of the keel, powered by a 200hp engine.
|The deck arrangement for Sorcery (as viewed in 2009)|
|Launch day, 23 December 1983 at Marina del Rey|
Later that year Sorcery competed in the 1984 Clipper Cup. In the first race, Boomerang and Condor had some difficulties at the start of the Maxi division, allowing Nirvana and Sorcery to lead the fleet to the weather mark off Diamond Head. The new and impressive Frers-design Boomerang began to play catch-up, out-footing and out-pointing the other Maxis as she drove to windward. Nirvana had rounded the mark half a length ahead but Sorcery found her legs and slipped by on the first offwind leg as the wind shifted east 20 degrees and abated slightly. Before long the reaching leg became nearly a square run, and a long run at that. A 27.5 mile triangular course had been laid, but the wing mark came loose and drifted nearly 3 miles before a mark boat reached it and took its place. Sorcery led the way to the new mark while the fleet hoisted bloopers in her wake. Sorcery held the lead at the leeward pin, followed by Nirvana and Kialoa IV. Boomerang had caught three of her Maxi competitors by then and began to make more time on the final beat, before blowing out her no.4 genoa.
In the second race a more conservative start by Boomerang lead to a great boat-for-boat race with Sorcery. Sorcery lead at the weather mark, but was overhauled by Boomerang the next time around. It was expected by the Maxi crews that Boomerang’s design and configuration would be vulnerable dead downwind, and Sorcery seemed to confirm this by taking the lead at the final leeward mark. However, on the last upwind leg Boomerang sailed higher and faster and moved back into the lead, until her no.4 let go again. While she maintained the lead while changing sails she missed the finish line, sailing between the committee boat and the weather mark. Realising their mistake, the skipper of Boomerang turned the Maxi around and headed for the line, but Sorcery managed to cross ahead by 17 seconds. Unfortunately, during one of the downwind legs Sorcery’s spinnaker had brushed the spreaders of the Frers 40 Flasher and her resulting percentage penalty set her back three places, effectively handing Boomerang the race victory.
|Sorcery during the 1984 Clipper Cup (photo Phil Uhl)|
The next race, the 150-mile Kalua Koi Molokai Race, counted for double points. Sorcery found herself in a tight battle in the early stages with Boomerang, Condor and Kialoa IV, playing the shifts off Maunalua Bay, separating briefly and then coming back together as they tacked out of the depression on Oahu’s southern shore. By Koko Head and the start of the Molokai Channel, Boomerang had a lead that she would not relinquish. The return trip from Kalaupapa Peninsula was a tight reach until clear of Molokai, then a spinnaker run back to Diamond Head and the finish. Both Kialoa and Sorcery closed in on Boomerang, but Boomerang’s lead was too great and she held onto her lead comfortably. Kialoa and Sorcery crossed the line overlapped with Kialoa’s bow just ahead - the record shows that Sorcery edged out Kialoa on corrected time (although the reason for that is unclear as Kialoa's rating for the series was lower than Sorcery's). Notably the Maxis were able to save their time on the fleet and took the top placings.
|Sorcery during the 1984 Clipper Cup (photo Sharon Green | Ultimate Sailing)|
For the triple-weighted Round the State Race, the fleet initially encountered light, fluky wind, but Sorcery moved into the fore as the leaders fetched Makapuu and the Maxis flew no.1 genoas and set jib tops, although Sorcery had destroyed her no.2 on a spreader prior to the start and had to live with a large gap in her inventory for the duration of the race. After some fast reaching, Ragamuffin (ex-Bumblebee IV) lead the fleet into a dead zone off Niihau, with Sorcery and Nirvana astern. These three were the first to slip free of the windless void in the late afternoon before starting the long reach down to South Point. Boomerang took the lead about 55 miles from South Point, moving a mile ahead of Kialoa IV and Sorcery, and went on to break Kialoa’s 1982 record for the race by over an hour. Condor saved her best finish for the most important race coming in third, followed by Sorcery, Nirvana and Ragamuffin.
Sorcery finished the series and in tenth place overall (3/16/2/13/21), just ahead of Nirvana but well behind Boomerang and Kialoa IV who finished first and second respectively. She finished in third place in Class A (1/4/2/4/4).
|Sorcery seen here crossing behind Nirvana and ahead of Windward Passage during the 1984 Big Boat Series (photo Facebook)|
|Sorcery to leeward of Boomerang (above) and behind Matador during the 1984 (or 1986) Big Boat Series (photos Sharon Green | Ultimate Sailing)|
|A bump being added to Sorcery's midships to enhance her IOR rating, in or about 1986|
|Sorcery leads Il Moro di Venezia, Ondine VII and Matador during the 1988 Kenwood Cup (photo Phil Uhl)|
|A similarly timed photo to the one above by Sharon Green | Ultimate Sailing, with Ragamuffin also appearing in the background|
Sorcery competed in the Kenwood Cup again in 1988, with the series incorporating the Maxi World Championship and featuring the biggest fleet of Maxis ever assembled in the Pacific, including Congere, Emeraude, Il Moro di Venezia, Kialoa V, Matador, Ondine VII, Ragamuffin, Sovereign, Windward Passage II and Winterhawk (ex-Ceramco New Zealand). By this stage the 70.0ft rating limit for the series had been eased, and most of the Maxis were optimised beyond this measurement, with Sorcery having an increased rating of 70.82ft, which also suggested she had undergone some modifications to increase speed. The new Frers-designed and fractionally-rigged Windward Passage II was the fastest Maxi in 1988, but Sorcery threatened her overall hegemony by almost taking line honours in Molokai Race after Passage fell into a hole just before the finish line. Overall, however, Sorcery finished down the overall standings.
|Sorcery leads Matador in tight power reaching conditions during the 1988 Kenwood Cup (photo Sharon Green | Ultimate Sailing)|
|An aerial photograph from the 1988 Kenwood Cup, with Sorcery trailing close behind Ondine VII and Matador (photo Histoiredeshalfs website)|
Sorcery headed to Australia in 1994 to race in that year's Sydney-Hobart, where she finished fourth across the line, just three hours behind line honours winner Tasmania (ex-New Zealand Endeavour), and 26th on corrected time (of 236 yachts). A video of that race can be seen here:
Sorcery raced in Antigua Race week in April/May 1996 and placed second overall in the Big Boat class and top of those boats more than ten years old. She then sailed across the Atlantic to Ireland, posting a best days’ run of 274 miles, and raced in the Round Ireland Race and Ford Cork Week – in the latter she won the first light airs race of the regatta, after withdrawing from the first race after one of her 26-strong crew was flipped overboard by a running spinnaker sheet, who was eventually recovered uninjured by a rescue boat.
|Sorcery in 2009|
Jake Wood died in March 2007, and a subsequent obituary in Latitude 38 magazine in May 2007 noted that one aspect that had set him apart from the many owners that came and went through the ranks of various fleets was that he held onto boats that he enjoyed. So, long after the IOR Maxi fleets had gone, Woods still sailed Sorcery, racing her always with a huge crowd aboard in just about every Southern California, Mexican or Hawaiian event at one time or another. A life-long competitive sailor from England, John Walker, bought Sorcery and he relocated the yacht from Marina del Rey to Vallejo in November 2007. At some stage, possibly post-2007, Sorcery was fitted with a new bulbed keel. The IMUA Yacht Charter Company runs a Facebook page for Sorcery and where readers can stay up to date with her continued maintenance and sailing events.
|Sorcery being relaunched in June 2021 following a refit at Svends Bay Marine (photo Facebook)|
Other photographs and information on Sorcery can also be seen on the Histoiredeshalfs website here.