by Ian Grant
Sunshine Coast ocean racing veteran Bob Robertson weathered another physically tormenting Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race finishing 12th overall and third in IRC Division 4 with his relatively new sloop Lunchtime Legend.
Lunchtime Legend in action during the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2011
As the experienced skipper again found out there is no written tactical strategy on how to best apply the ocean racing experience from twelve previous Hobart’s to master what nature provided with the wind velocity that blew over the deck.
Lunchtime Legend launched for her maiden regatta at the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in late August and an impressive class winner of the short course series Sydney had the crew of experienced long race specialists and the form to be linked with the pre-race favourites. But as the Lunchtime Legend crew have learnt to understand that every nautical mile of this 628 nautical mile classic has a history of testing the draw from the deck of the get lucky cards.
Their fleet position was well in the mix with the provisional leaders before the fleet were forced to ‘batten down the hatches’ and prepare for a test of their fresh wind sailing skill and character.
The Southerly Buster spiced with forty knot gusts and a hull slamming confused seaway tested their fresh weather ocean racing integrity but left a number of windless voids in Bass Strait and along the normally windy Tasmanian coast to ultimately set up an interesting race for both the line honours and overall handicap.
Both the associated glass out calms and low velocity wind had the best Hobart Race tacticians literally ‘scratching their heads’ on a plan to improve their boat speed and the crew of Lunchtime Legend were not alone as their target time to finish stretched into the fourth day.
Every nautical mile presented a new challenge as the race for handicap swung in favour of the bigger boats including the Stephen Ainsworth owned 2010 Audi Australian Ocean Racing champion Loki the equally impressive Victorian sloop Living Doll and Syd Fischer’s ever consistent Ragamuffin.
Gentleman sailor Stephen Ainsworth was finally rewarded with the honour of holding the prestigious Rolex Sydney Hobart Race trophy aloft when Loki was confirmed as the 2011 champion ahead of Living Doll and Ragamuffin.
Meanwhile the stories surrounding the battle to protect reputations and minor handicap places became a feature of the post-race celebrations. As expected the result allowed the crew of Loki to enjoy the celebrations while the race on the water between the smaller yachts eventually revealed some equally interesting results.
Roger Hickman a veteran of 34 Hobart races expressed the value of that experience when he skippered the 28 year old Farr 43 Wild Rose to a comfortable win in Division 4 from Whistler and Lunchtime Legend which completed the tactically demanding blue water classic to win third place under the count back rule over the 2009 champion Two True.
Bob Robertson realised the value of where the important seconds count after spending the testing time of four days, one hour, 36 minutes 51 seconds to record another Hobart Race result in his log book.