Please select your home edition
Edition
Festival of Sails 2018 728x90

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Suck it up, sunshine!

by John Curnow on 31 Dec 2016
Hobart Start - Daniel Forster - 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart, December 2016 © Rolex/Daniel Forster http://www.regattanews.com
The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour, another two million watching on TV, and the constant buzz and whir of media helicopters overhead. 88 boats, from Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, oh and New Zealand, had lined up on three start lines.

Drama at the 1300hrs cannon, with the eight times line honours winner, the Oatley family’s 100-footer Wild Oats XI, getting a disastrous start. The miked-up for TV broadcast Skipper, Mark ‘Ricko’ Richards, complained he could not ‘F-ing see’, as on port he was weaving between the wall of carbon sails. Usually a very calm boat, he was also calling a lot for ‘Ease Main!’, and ‘Main On’, as he ultimately had to duck the sterns of many vessels.



Ludde Ingvall’s radically revamped CQS nearly capsized after a crash tack to avoid a boat with rights left her canting keel to leeward when the diesel stalled at the exact same time. Whilst this was all this was happening, Anthony Bell’s 100-footer, Perpetual Loyal, was cleanly and clearly first out of the Heads, and turned right toward Hobart with moments of 2015 memory pouring in when they could not set the huge 1200m2 A-sail.

Thankfully it got sorted, eventually, but it would be WOXI that got the best set of them all. 87 boats followed Perpetual Loyal. The smallest of them was Sean Langman’s 84-year-old classic, wooden 30-footer, Maluka of Kermandie. Yet she was not the last vessel out in malaise of wind and water caused by all the bigger yachts in front of her and the spectator armada now rushing out to see the big’uns scream off towards Hobart.

The Northerly was building. 20’s became 30’s, with the fleet’s leaders speeding offshore to escape an expected soft Southerly change, that in the end was a case of much ado about nothing. The leaders effectively missed it, but those in tier two did hit the doldrums for a while.



Yet it was the pencil shaped WOXI that wound up a treat and it was a little after Bateman’s Bay at around 1900hrs local when she ascended to the lead and kept sneaking away. The leaders were doing 25-28knots at this stage, disposing of the miles effortlessly. Of course on board that sort of speed is anything but effortless. This is especially so for trimmers and helmers, and these conditions were clearly very favourable, with a new race record up for the beckoning.

These perfect and sustained downwind conditions don’t come all that often. Indeed they usually bring a race record when they do as echoes of 1975, when Jim Kilroy’s Kiaola III (USA) sailed the 628-nautical mile course in 2d 14h 36m 56 s flooded in. Equally, there was another epic slide in 1999, when the Volvo 60 Nokia (the former Swedish Match), cut the record time to 1 day 19 hours 48 minute and two seconds.

That last record stood until 2005, when the then new (and at that time 98-foot) WOXI cut it a little and then again in 2012 to the mark they were aiming to beat - 1 day 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds. Back to the 2016 race, and the website computers were at this stage going wild with an unbelievable 24 boats now on record pace.



Too good to be true? Well it certainly was, for as WOXI reached and ran South at serious speed. Whilst deep into the jump from Green Point to Tasmania and almost abeam Flinders Island, WOXI suddenly stopped. Thinking the leader must have a MOB, Perpetual Loyal radioed from astern.

Did they need help? No. WOXI’s canting keel hydraulic ram had failed. Disaster had struck the well-prepared and exceptionally sailed short-priced favourite. The crew manually centred their 12-tonne lead keel, and she limped northwards.

Perpetual Loyal blasted on South, with Jim Delegat’s Volvo 70 a clear second, and then Maserati third with Scallywag, Beau Geste and Black Jack in a wolf pack. The line honours race stayed a very fast procession, powered by solid Easterlies that turned further North as the leaders struck South.



Long story short, three boats broke Wild Oats XI's 2012 record. Anthony Bell's supermaxi Perpetual Loyal eased across the Hobart finish line at 02:31:20 on Day 3 to set a record of 37 hours 31 minutes 20 seconds, almost five hours faster than the old record. Behind her was New Zealander Jim Delegat's Volvo 70, Giacomo, followed by Seng Huang Lee's 100-footer, Scallywag.

After the first three boats arrived, the host of the Derwent River Inn, (aka as Heart Break Hotel) turned off the fans, and abandoned the guests, retiring to bed for the night and a fair bit of the following day. Too many celebratory libations for the hotelier it would seem… A good sleep was in order.



Peter Harburg's modified Volvo 70 Blackjack, which was the 2011/2012 VOR entrant Telefonica, was the first of the unlucky group home. This was some four and a half hours after Scallywag, followed almost an hour later by Karl Kwok's 80-footer, Beau Geste, and 82 seconds after that by yet another Volvo 70, the 2008/2009 Ericsson 3 which is now Jim Cooney's, Maserati.

The windless misery also extended out into Storm Bay. Some of the radio contact between boats and Hobart Race Control about it all is hilarious, such as with Dark & Stormy. The overall leader, Matt Allen’s modified GenV TP52, Ichi Ban, (the former Azzurra and Shogun V, now with taller stick/bigger sails and deeper keel), rounded Tasman Light as clear overall leader under the IRC rule. Soon thereafter she joined a Storm Bay car park and that was her race right there. End of story. The quietening spread further to offshore, as well. It lasted almost a day, and it was game over for overall aspirants everywhere.



So it was to be the giant killing Clubhouse leader, Giacomo, that took the overall IRC win from Perpetual Loyal in second and UBOX, the Franco/Chinese entered Cookson 50, who would get third. Under ORCi, Bin Wang's UBOX won from Paul Clitheroe's TP52 Balance, and Matt Allen's TP52 Ichi Ban.

On PHS (Performance Handicap System), Bruce Watson's normally shorthanded Welbourn 12, Imalizard, won from the Jones 40, Quetzalcoatl, who reported to Sail-World that she had her kite up for 67 of the first 70 hours of the race. That was offshore, around Tasman light, she did not have quite such the same scorecard. Trevor Richardson's Moody Bouys, which is a very cruise Moody 54DS, got third place. Last boat home was the lovely 'local', the Huon Pine S&S, Landfall at 1649hrs on 30/12/16.



In this downhill slide that was 2016, two boats retired with broken rudders, another with headsail damage, one with motor issues, and Wild Oats XI, the eight times race line honours winner and previous race record holder, whilst leading the race.

So why allow a classic ocean race to end with a river wind gate? Surely it would be fairer if it ended at Tasman Light. No way. It is just not going to happen. For 74 years, almost every sailor who has turned right on Boxing Day has been able to tell their grandchildren how on one or more occasions, the boat he or she was on, sailed a brilliant race, was winning their division or the race overall at Tasman Light, only to have victory cruelly torn from their grasp by Huey, the Wind God.

Accordingly, do any of us care if it keeps happening? Nah! Suck it up, Sunshine! It’s happened to everyone back in whatever year it was…. And that is why there are sailors who have raced south 25, 40 or even 51 times. If the walls of the Customs House Hotel on Constitution Dock could talk, they would say that Sydney Hobart sailors and Goldfish have a lot in common. They just keep going around and round…

In terms of the 2016 Hobart, our Managing Editor, Mark Jardine, just wanted to say, “Well done to all the Sail-World team. Our contributors were awesome. We had magnificent images from Andrea Francolini, insightful pics from Beth Morley, superlative videos from Crosbie and Dale Lorimer, a totally wicked radio team, and truly tireless sub-editors.”



“Of course there were many owners and crews who gave us so much before hand, and also out on the water. Thank you all. All of the sailors, organisers and volunteers also get a special mention. Yet it is you, the readers, who I just wanted to acknowledge and appreciate. So cheers and Happy New Year to you!”

Now don’t forget to get your club or association to send in your news via the submit function, just up in the top right of the Sail-World home page. In the meantime, do keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story…

Harken AUS HL Snatch Block 660x82Sydney Harbour Boat Storage 660x82Pittwater to Paradise 2018 660x82

Related Articles

America's Cup - Dan Bernasconi on shaping the AC75 'Beast'
Dan Bernasconi, Technical Director of Emirates Team NZ is leading the design team charged with developing the AC75 rule Dan Bernasconi, Technical Director of Emirates Team New Zealand, has turned his hand from leading the team charged with developing the quickest America's Cup multihull on the planet to performing a similar feat with a monohull. First step in the process is coming up with a concept boat, and then writing a class rule to accommodate that type. The 75ft monohull has been given various monikers, bu
Posted on 5 Oct
America's Cup - Dalton opens up on boat and options for next Cup
The Protocol for the 36th America's Cup will take place in Auckland on the morning of the 29th September Italian media are reporting that the announcement of the Protocol for the 36th America's Cup will take place in Auckland on the morning of the 29th September. Dalton confirmed the details of the yacht will be revealed two months later on November 30, but would not say if it will be a foiling monohull as speculated in the media.
Posted on 18 Sep
Pulling G’s with Beneteau – Pt II
Just a little while ago we pulled some Gs with Beneteau’s Mr Product, aka G3. Just a little while ago we pulled some Gs with Beneteau’s Mr Product, aka G3. You can go back and read Part One of the story of Gianguido Girotti, as and when you may like. However, for now we’ll push on with the incredible semi-foiler Figaro 3, and the new Oceanis 51.1, along with what they represent for the brand as a whole. It is a very interesting tale, especially as Beneteau...
Posted on 31 Aug
JATO ignited as SuperFoiler prepares for take off (Pt II)
When we left SuperFoiler last time, the JATO rockets had been lit, and we were rapidly approaching the time for rotation When we left SuperFoiler last time, the JATO rockets had been lit, and we were rapidly approaching the time for rotation (lift off). You can catch up with Part One of SuperFoiler and the JATO rockets, but for now we get to talk speed, the crew on board, and finally the commercialisation of it all. Buckle up!
Posted on 28 Aug
Pulling G’s with Beneteau – Pt I
In a car, just the one G will have you straining at your seatbelt. In a car, just the one G will have you straining at your seatbelt. Over nine (+ve) in an aircraft, and without a G-suit, you will be unconscious. So at three G’s, and pulling no punches with them either, we not only enjoyed our opportunity to sit with Gianguido Girotti (G3), we got to learn a lot as well!
Posted on 23 Aug
JATO ignited as SuperFoiler prepares for take off (Pt I)
When small military transports have to take off from impossibly short runways with a belly full of cargo When small military transports have to take off from impossibly short runways with a belly full of cargo akin to Mr. Creosote, they reach for the JATO bottles. Aircraft like C-7 Caribous and LC130 Hercules strap rockets, yes rockets, to the underside of their wings to gain valuable extra thrust, which surely helps keep the pilots' heart rates below the red line.
Posted on 22 Aug
A Q&A with the RORC’s Nick Elliott about the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race
I caught up with Nick Elliott, RORC Racing Manager, via email, to learn more about the world-famous Rolex Fastnet Race. When one stops to consider the world’s best ocean races, the Royal Offshore Racing Club’s Rolex Fastnet Race, which starts on Sunday, August 6, 2017, is never far from mind. I caught up with Nick Elliott, RORC Racing Manager, via email to learn more about the race’s history and evolution, its challenges, and the amount of work that goes into pulling off this world-famous regatta.
Posted on 1 Aug
Tank killers
Not all that long ago, the US Army started using depleted Uranium shells. Not all that long ago, the US Army started using depleted Uranium shells. These shells were wickedly awesome at their job, which was killing enemy tanks in their tracks (and yes the pun is fully intended). The mighty, turbine powered, M1 Abrams became even more formidable, and their crews somewhat safer again.
Posted on 24 Jul
Ian Walker - Musto Ambassador on the Volvo Ocean Race, America's Cup
Ian Walker on his Volvo Ocean Race win, why food and clothing are so important offshore, his views on the America's Cup We speak to Musto ambassador Ian Walker about his Volvo Ocean Race win, why food and clothing are so important offshore, his views on the America's Cup, his new desk job, sailing for fun, and 20 years of the John Merricks Sailing Trust.
Posted on 23 Jul
Black Jack Yachting. Bigger boat. Bigger team. Even bigger performance
Throughout the iterations of maxis called Black Jack, a strong, consistent and talented team has been their focus Throughout the iterations of maxis called Black Jack, a strong, consistent and talented team has been their focus. Some were sail makers, like Skipper Mark Bradford and also Vaughan Prentice from North Sails’ Brisbane loft. Others were riggers, such as Bruce Clarke, and there are even boat builders, like Gary van Lunteren, as well as Ash Deeks.
Posted on 20 Jul