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Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race preview - NSW versus Queensland

by Di Pearson on 2 Nov 2012
Fleet setting off from the two start lines - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012 © Rolex/Daniel Forster http://www.regattanews.com
Among the 82 entries into the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race received by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia there were four super maxis and six previous overall winners, including defending champion, Loki, at the close of entries at 5.00pm last evening.

While the 100 footers from NSW; Wild Oats XI (Bob Oatley) and Ragamuffin-Loyal (Syd Fischer), and Queensland’s Wild Thing (Grant Wharington) and Peter Millard/John Honan’s 98ft Lahana are the likely ones to slog it out for line honours in a NSW versus Queensland match, competition will be even more rife in the battle for the overall win and the Tattersall’s Cup trophy.

'Although numbers are slightly down on last year’s 88 starters, we are pleased to have the quality fleet we do,' the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore, Howard Piggott said.


'We expect a spirited battle for line honours, especially between Rolex Sydney-Hobart race record holder, Wild Oats XI and the renamed Ragamuffin Loyal, which took line honours last year,' he said

This year’s fleet is numbers seven previous overall winners of the race, as well as all those whose dreams remain unfulfilled. The 2011 winner, Loki (Stephen Ainsworth) heads the cast of favourites for the 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart.

The Reichel/Pugh 63 has swept all before her in the past couple of seasons, breaking records to win a couple of trebles along the way. Loki’s latest effort was breaking the 13 year-old record for a conventional yacht in the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Race in August, and winning the race overall. If any boat can back up and make it two in a row, Loki can.

Other winners unable to resist the urge to try again are: 2010 winner Secret Men’s Business 3.5 (Geoff Boettcher) and Andrew Saies’ Beneteau First 40, Two True (2009), the latest two of only five overall winners to come from South Australia. The 1993 winner, Wild Rose, a 30 year-old Farr 43 owned by Roger Hickman, is always a contender, despite her age.

Boettcher, who with his crew and Reichel/Pugh 51 sat out the 2011 race, commented: 'Just one more – and after having last year off, we are ready and looking forward to the challenge. We’ll be coming to Sydney a couple of times before the race to get the boat in order.'

The 2008 winner, Quest is back, her owner, Bob Steel (NSW), also won the race and the Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece with a different boat in 2002.

Love & War won three times; in 1974 and 1978 with original owner, the late Peter Kurts, and in 2006 with his navigator and friend Lindsay May at the helm, with the blessing of Simon Kurts, who will take the boat to Hobart this time.

Finally, and unforgettably, there is the 2005 record holder and treble winner, Wild Oats XI (Mark Richards, skipper), from NSW.


'Loki, last year’s winner, has shown continuing good form, but she will have strong competition from the 50 footers in particular; Secret Men’s Business 3.5, Quest, Calm, Shogun and Living Doll,' Commodore Piggott commented.

'There will be strength in all divisions; from which will come the overall winner for the Tattersall’s Cup,' he said.

Among them are the two smallest previous winners in the fleet; the Hick 35, AFR Midnight Rambler (NSW), which won the race under the guidance of Ed Psaltis and Bob Thomas in 1998. It has been reincarnated as Luna Sea by new owner, James Cameron, who will be joined by the 1988 winner, Illusion, a Davidson 34 originally owned by Victorian, Gino Knezic. It will sail south with new owner, Kim Jaggar (NSW).

Joining them is the oldest boat and smallest boat in the fleet, Sean Langman’s Maluka of Kermandie, built in 1932 and measuring 9.01 metres. Sailing with his son and daughter last year, Langman and his classic gaff rigger had the distinction of finishing last on line. He saw the irony in hearing at sea that his former yacht, Loyal, had taken line honours. However, his 34th overall was a good result.

In the middle are the ‘40’s; those boats whose owners felt robbed last year, when looking good in the final 24 hours of their race, were caught in no-man’s-land when the breeze faded and died as a change came through.

The ‘Beneteau brigade’, namely the Beneteau First 40’s, will try again and include Blunderbuss (Tony Kinsman, Qld), Wicked (Mark Welsh, Vic) and Lunchtime Legend (Robbo Robertson, Qld), which last year finished with exactly the same corrected time as 2009 winner, Two True. One can’t go past reigning Blue Water Point Score champion Victoire, Darryl Hodgkinson’s Beneteau 45, either.

With the fleet represented by every state of Australia and the ACT, and four international entries with unknown Hobart form, anyone could win. Internationals have figured strongly in previous line honours and overall results, with the USA’s Rosebud (Roger Sturgeon) winning overall in 2007, while British yacht Aera (Nicholas Lykiardopulo), took the honours in 2004.

It stands to reason that the first ever Lithuanian entry, Ambersail (Simonas Steponavicius) with his Volvo 60, is coming all this way with winning mind, as is the case for the race’s second ever Japanese entry, KLC Bengal 7, the Humphrey’s 54 of Yoshihiko Murase. His yacht slots nicely into that ‘50’s’ range that seem to win their fair share of Rolex Sydney Hobarts.

Commencing at 1pm AEDT on Boxing Day, December 26 on Sydney Harbour, the fleet will set sail from two start lines off Nielsen Park, Vaucluse. The bigger boats will lead off, before the fleet converges out to sea to round a mark one nautical mile east of the Heads before heading to Tasmania, where the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania will take on the finishing duties.

The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia, webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7 and the Australia Network throughout the Asia Pacific Region.

The final fleet for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart will be announced at the CYCA on the morning of Tuesday 27 November 2012. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race website

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