by Di Pearson
86 year-old Syd Fischer and his Team Ragamuffin broke the Audi Hong Kong to Vietnam Race record this morning, beating Skandia's (Grant Wharington, AUS) 2004 time of 42h 45m 41s by just over 4 minutes, arriving at the Nha Trang finish line at 08:11:20 this morning local time.
A whole rail full of Ragamuffins. Well done, all!
Revelling in the ideal downwind conditions, the Sydney yachtsman skippered his 90 foot Dubois Ragamuffin 90 to line honours and a new record for the 656nm race. It is not every day an 86 year-old is out racing at the top level, let alone breaking records. In doing so, he not only beat Skandia’s record, but did so from an eight foot smaller yacht, and from a new start line in Hong Kong harbour that made the race at least 15nm longer than previously.
VNR13 0442 - Audi Hong Kong - Vietnam Race 2013. Ragamuffin 90 leads the fleet out of HK harbour
Although the wind piped in for the entire, race, averaging between 15-22 knots, it was touch and go in the last 75 miles, as the breeze oscillated from 13-18 knots and the minutes ticked away. In the end, it came down to the final couple of miles and keeping the boat speed up.
This is the first time Fischer has contested the race, which started at 1330h on Thursday Hong Kong time. He led from the start and was never overtaken. At 0600h local time there was a 92nm gap to Team Ragamuffin’s nearest rival.
Fischer used the race for crew training and selection for the upcoming Rolex Sydney Hobart.
Among the experienced big boat crew were sailing master, Dave Witt, British Olympic double silver medallist and Volvo Ocean Race skipper, Ian Walker; Matt Humphries, a veteran of five Whitbread/VORs, Geoff Hill, sailmaker Mark Fullerton and Campbell Knox.
While he was pushing the yacht hard at sea last night, the Mosman yachtsman was honoured at the Australian Yachting Awards with a Lifetime Achievement award. It was accepted by his grandson Brenton Fischer.
Ragamuffin's record breaking run can be seen on the Vietnam Hong Kong Race tracker
Ragamuffin Yachting Facebook page
VNR13 0231 - AUDI Hong Kong - Vietnam Race 2013. Ragamuffin 90 on the start line
Crew setlle in pre-start - at the Audi Hong Kong to Vietnam Race
Syd Fischer (white cap) looking for breeze early this morning at the Audi Hong Kong to Vietnam Race