Rolex Sydney Hobart- Big Night ahead will test Hobart Sea Legs

Haze from the cyclone swell drifts around South Head as the southerly approaches Sydney this evening.
'Two days on the nose, bring it on' said an exuberant Paul Clitheroe, owner and skipper of Balance dockside at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia this morning, as he rubbed his hands together and grinned mischievously.

Well, with the southerly front hitting Sydney just before 9pm this evening, Clitheroe and team will already be in the thick of the action.

The general chat along the docks at the CYCA this morning seemed to centre on what most think will be an uncomfortable night at sea, with the south-going swell from the cyclone off Queensland’s coast meeting the wind-driven waves of the southerly moving up the coast.

Ichi Ban skipper Matt Allen was equally enthusiastic about the prospect of bashing into a southerly 'oh yes we’ll have plenty of that thanks' he said this morning with a smile; 'Ichi Ban goes well in that.'

Andrew Saies, whose boat Two True was overall handicap winner in 2009, was a little less keen on the weather ahead, but phlegmatic about the need to see it through,

'No-one really likes these fronts that come through and we’re going to get wet, cold and belted and when the Weather Bureau says it going to be 30 knots it’s probably going to be 40, so I think that the first night will sort things out…..but after that the race is a pattern that we’re quite looking forward to.'

A remarkably relaxed Bruce Taylor, skipper of Chutzpah - whose two missing crew turned up from Melbourne just in time after their overnight delay caused by the storms in Melbourne - forecast a very unpleasant and probably confused sea off the NSW South Coast tonight.

'There’s a bit of current out there which everyone seems to be ignoring; we saw a bit of it last week and with the swell and the current against the southerly I think it could be a little bouncy out there tonight.'

Adrian Dunphy, skipper of Sydney 38 DoDo was already in batten down mode before he left the dock today,

'We’ve decided to get the rig ready for tonight before we leave, rather than wait until it hits' said Dunphy ' we’re probably sacrificing a little bit of downwind performance, but we’re better doing that than waiting 'til the point when we suddenly say ‘oh look at the cloud, let’s get someone up the rig'.

For Michael Coxon aboard Investec Loyal it’s all about getting the boat through the first twenty four hours,

'We’ll be making sure we’re fresh and the boat’s in good shape for the second half of the race; the section down the Tasmanian Coast looks like a lottery and that could suit us very well' he said, speaking of their contest with Wild Oats X1.

Meantime, for Jim and Mary Holley, two of the stalwarts of the last fourteen years of Hobart races (Jim has raced twenty three and Mary is heading off on her fifteenth) it’s all just part of the event,

'We just take what comes' said the ever philosophical Jim, who confessed that he and Mary think next year may be their last, with 2012 being the fifteenth race for their boat Aurora.

For those crews in the fleet not blessed with iron stomachs it may well be that seasickness proves as much of a challenge in reaching Hobart as saving the boat from damage.

Those seeking relief from mal-de-mer may well have also taken the trouble to read Nancy Knudsen’s intriguing review of seasickness remedies in a recent Sails magazine; the rum and coke option sounded much the most palatable.

You can however be certain that the almost pathological urge of the iron-stomached crew to tip their queasy fellow travellers over the edge will be happening across the fleet as the rest of us head for a comfortable bed tonight.

Probably the cruelest gesture to a green-faced sufferer is the offer of an oyster milkshake!
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