Please select your home edition
Edition
Guy Nowell - Yellow 728

Rolex Sydney to Hobart - Patrice performs like a rocket ship

by Jim Gale RSHYR media on 19 Dec 2013
Patrice, bow up and flying in the CYCA Trophy – Passage Series 2013 Andrea Francolini
Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 2013 gets underway in a weeks' time, on 26th December. Tony Kirby is hugely regarded at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, and with 27 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races under his belt, is a stalwart of the annual 628 nautical mile race.

The Sydney yachtsman first started racing on his father Ray’s lovely Patrice III, ahead of campaigning on three of Stephen Ainsworth’s Lokis. Most recently, he has raced his own X41, Patrice Six. Yet that holiest of grails - a handicap win - has eluded Kirby.

So far, at any rate.

Now Kirby has a new Patrice, a Ker 46, and in the races leading up to Boxing Day she has performed like a little rocket ship. Two years in the making, Kirby’s 28th tilt at the challenge is looking like it is all coming together.

'I love long distance ocean racing,' Kirby says. 'There are plenty of regattas and shorter races along the way, but the big picture is Hobart. Everything leads up to it. In January I will start my plan for the next Hobart.'

Two years ago, the yachtsman decided that Patrice Six was getting old and it was time for a new boat. 'I could have bought a second hand TP52, it would have been cheaper than building a new boat, but the running costs of a TP52 are in the big league. Very expensive; I knew I wouldn’t be able to play at that level.'

So he started to look at the latest designs and already had a builder in mind. McConaghy’s at Mona Vale in Sydney has been building hi-tech racing yachts for years.

'You know that, no matter what conditions Bass Strait might throw at you, you won’t have to worry about the boat because of the quality of their build,' Kirby says of the company that also built the Ker 40, Midnight Rambler, which won the CYCA Trophy – Passage Series from Patrice last weekend.

He could not afford a boat built in the McConaghy yard in Mona Vale, but the company had opened a factory in China, so Kirby went to check it out. In a corner of the factory a Ker 46 was being built for a South African as a day racer.

'I didn’t want a one way boat; I’d be too frustrated when the conditions were wrong. Most of the top boats have been all-rounders,' Kirby says.

'The IRC rule was designed for the waters between France and England and run by the Royal Ocean Racing Club. British and French designed boats get good ratings. American designers don’t for some reason. I didn’t want a French boat. Jason Ker, the designer McConaghy had chosen for its production boat, the Ker 40, is British. All the stars aligned.'

The lanky Kirby could not fit into a Ker 40, so he ordered the 46. 'The first 46 was hugely successful. Patrice is a development of that. She is a tonne and a half lighter with a deeper keel.

The Ker 46 was designed with a big rig for the light, flat conditions of the Mediterranean. Kirby wanted a rig for the stronger winds and bigger seas of Australia.

'They are fuller, to go through waves. Bigger sails go faster, but you lose out on your rating handicap. We optimised the sails for the racing I would be doing with a program at Southampton University. My sails are smaller than on the first boat and I worried they might be too small, but they worked it all out.'

Kirby has assembled a top crew for the new boat; a mix of old faithfuls and old friends who are new to his crew.

'I prefer to create my own team; a champion team rather than a team of champions. You need guys who will turn up every week, who will not leave you short because they get a better ride on the day,' he says.

'I spent six years building the team I had on the last Patrice, but this is a faster, harder boat, very physically demanding. Everyone has to be able to multi-task. The navigator has to be able to handle sails when necessary; that sort of thing.

'Some of my older sailors could see that this wasn’t going to be for them, so there’s been a few changes and there’ll be more to come,' he says of adding the likes of hardened 34 race veteran Mike Green, and Peter Messenger, who will make this his 25th Hobart. They will join regulars, navigator Richard Grimes and Gail Harland, who has sailed 18 Hobarts.

It has been an all-consuming effort, but now the boat is racing, and it is performing really well. There is still a lot of fine tuning, according to her owner, but after 10 weeks on the water, Kirby can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

'It’s easy to make a boat go fast, but that little extra four percent is the hard bit,' he says, 'the costly bit.'

If Patrice is to fulfil Kirby’s dream this year, she will have to beat an outstanding fleet, including other band new Hobart focussed boats like Matt Allen’s highly fancied 60 footer Ichi Ban.

'Matt is a great sailor and he has a fantastic crew,' Kirby admits. 'He will be hard to beat, but what we had to do in 10 weeks with Patrice, he has to do in 10 days.'

All Kirby and his crew can do is sail flat out, and see how it all pans out.

'To win the Rolex Sydney Hobart you need four things,' Kirby says. 'A good boat, a good crew, you need to sail the right race, and then you need God to point his finger at you and say: ‘It’s your turn.’

Phuket Raceweek 2016 660x82Guy Nowell - Yellow 660Zhik ZKG 660x82

Related Articles

Rolex Sydney Hobart - One of the most exciting editions on record
The 69th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race shaped up early to be one of the most amazing editions on record. The 69th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race shaped up early to be one of the most amazing editions on record. The 94-boat fleet featured five 100 foot maxis, three Volvo 70s, seven former race winners and a seriously competitive lineup across the fleet.
Posted on 7 Jan 2014
Rolex Sydney Hobart- America’s Cup heroes take on Sydney-Hobart
Iain Murray and Ian ‘Fresh’ Burns bested Tom Slingsby and Stan Honey for line honors in the Sydney-Hobart race. Iain Murray and Ian ‘Fresh’ Burns bested Tom Slingsby and Stan Honey for line honors in the Sydney-Hobart race. Murray and Burns, aboard Wild Oats X!, were first across the finishing line in Hobart, coming from behind to beat rookie Slingsby and Honey on Perpetual Loyal.
Posted on 4 Jan 2014
Rolex Sydney Hobart; Rounding Tasman Island -Got a Few Hours To Spare?
It’s hard to imagine how Hobart was ever discovered by sea, really. It’s hard to imagine how Hobart was ever discovered by sea, really. There are two dimensions of the city’s sea defences – neither has anything to do with the military - that have seemed to make Hobart an elusive chimera to many a seafarer over the decades and centuries.
Posted on 1 Jan 2014
Rolex Sydney Hobart - Making tracks to the finish line
With New Year’s Eve looming tonight, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet made tracks to the finish line in Hobart. With New Year’s Eve looming tonight, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet made tracks to the finish line in Hobart. By midday on December 31, only two yachts were still at sea. From a total of 94 race starters, 82 yachts have now finished in Hobart, and ten yachts had retired.
Posted on 31 Dec 2013
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - And then there were four
In the CYCA’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, at 8.00am this morning, four yachts were left at sea. In the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, at 8.00am this morning, four yachts were left at sea and all four were expected to make it across the finish line and into Constitution Dock in time to ring in the New Year.
Posted on 31 Dec 2013
Rolex Sydney Hobart - Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and CV10 crew celebrate
In the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and the Clipper 68 CV10 crew have celebrated their result. In the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Navigator Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, skipper Jim Dobie and their Clipper 68 CV10 crew have celebrated their result into Hobart, Tasmania. CV10, a Clipper 68 that has gone round the world four times in previous editions of the Clipper Race, beat 11 of 12 Clipper 70s into Hobart as well as rival Clipper 68 CV5 in a closely fought 628-mile sprint from Sydney.
Posted on 31 Dec 2013
Rolex Sydney Hobart - Clipper Class win for Derry-Londonderry-Doire
In the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Derry~Londonderry~Doire crossed the finish line into Hobart, Tasmania at 06:06 local time. In the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Derry~Londonderry~Doire crossed the finish line into Hobart, Tasmania at 06:06 local time (19:06 UTC 29th December) to claim a class win in the famous Australian yachting classic and its first podium position of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Posted on 31 Dec 2013
Rolex Sydney Hobart 2013 Overall and Division Results
Rolex Sydney Hobart 2013 - a another great race, the 69th running of the 628 nautical mile blue water classic. Rolex Sydney Hobart 2013 - a another great race, the 69th running of the 628 nautical mile blue water classic. Here at the overall and divisional results, however these might change, in the smaller boat divisions, as the time of publication there are still six boats on the water of the 94 boats that started the 69th Rolex Sydney to Hobart race, there were a total of ten retirements.
Posted on 31 Dec 2013
Sydney Hobart – Two Hobart winners stood in the way of overall Victory
Rolex Sydney Hobart - Overnight there were just two boats on the water that appeared could spoil the party for Victoire Rolex Sydney Hobart 2013 - Overnight there were just two boats still on the water that for a short while appeared could spoil the party for Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire, interestingly both previous race winners, the Travis Read skippered David 34 Illusion, the 1988 Sydney Hobart winner and Roger Hickman’s Farr 43 Wild Rose, originally Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats, which won the 1993 race under IOR
Posted on 30 Dec 2013
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - Victoire overall winner + Video
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race day 5 and the remaining boats racing had a slight respite from prevailing weather conditions Rolex Sydney Hobart Race day five and the remaining boats racing had a slight respite from prevailing weather conditions as the southwesterly moderated to 20 - 25 knots over night into this morning (December 30). Unfortunately for Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose, any chance of upsetting Victoire as overall handicap leader went by the boards with the diminishing breeze
Posted on 30 Dec 2013