One of prettiest boats racing south to Hobart is Michael Hiatt’s Cookson built Farr 55 Living Doll. It shimmers and shines, changing colour its seems in different angles and lights. But she is not just a dolly bird; she is a serious Sydney Hobart contender.
Living Doll downwind - Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2011
Launched in late 2008 this Melbourne boat missed Hobart that year with a broken mast. In the last two years she has won a slew of regattas on windward leeward courses, where she has clear air on the following pack.
Last year she was tenth across the line and seventh on handicap overall in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, but in more recent times her offshore performance has been improving.
She impressed with a strong win in this year’s Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race and Michael Hiatt has been working towards a podium result in Hobart.
He talked to Sail-World.com today. ‘This is a race where drivers, navigators and tacticians are busy. We have Steve Cotton and Noel Drennan as the two watch captains and we have a Canadian meteorologist Eric Holden on the boat, so hopefully that will be a good combination.
‘Equipment wise, we did change the rudders but I don’t think that has made any great difference. We are pretty much the same boat as last year, with a little bit more work going into the sails, but really we have made no dramatic changes.
‘While Living Doll enjoys the light air we have proven she has legs in a bit of wind.
‘We’ve done a couple of Southport races which have been on the nose, 30 knots of breeze into the current, and we were really pleased with the way the boat performed.
‘It’s that middle stuff that probably we might need to manage a bit better.
‘It will be an interesting race again this year. Ahead of us will be Stephen Ainsworth’s 63 footer Loki, and we also have to keep our eyes on the bigger boats. We can’t do much about them, but certainly Loki can beat the path for us a little.
‘We expect there will be quite a tough TP52 battle behind us.
‘I think my mate Rob Hanna’s Shogun is well placed and she’s race ready, although Jason Van de Slot’s Calm has been running quite well. Calm has Barney Walker on board but I think the boys on Shogun have done a lot of work together and I think they will be giving Calm some pretty stiff competition.’
‘If we get some serious seaway, the TP52’s are not going to really enjoy it. They have to hold things together, so we are looking for heavier weather.
'But now it seems the forecast is for lightening winds, so who knows ....’