Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012 - Whilst the Weather Gods shut the gate quite early on this year’s race for overall handicap honours for any boat under 60 feet there are some very tight battles in the IRC divisional list. Divisions Zero and One have been ashore for a long time, it’s now money time for the Division Two fleet.
Occasional Course Language Two - 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart
As we report its after midnight Hobart time and the normally sleepy Derwent and Storm Bay have obviously been on the Red Bull over the last six hours.
The strong southerly front has made for some hard sailing with the heaviest gust in the last 30 minutes at Tasman Light, 39 knots, while off Constitution Dock at the Hobart finish it’s been a steady 13-14 knots with gusts to 18 knots.
Leading on handicap in a very tight battle is a newbie to the Sydney Hobart Warwick Sherman's latest yacht, a Ker designed Sydney GTS43, Occasional Coarse Language Too, has been having a very good first season. She finished second in the Grant Thornton Short Ocean Spring Pointscore and won Division A2 of the Audi Winter Series 2012. OCL Too also won the Gascoigne Cup in October this year.
At that time she was just two nautical miles east of Cape Raoull, still 33 miles from the finishing, doing seven knots.
Sailing almost alongside them into Storm Bay was the Psaltis-Thomas - Bencsik, AFR Midnight Rambler, a Ker 40, currently second on handicap.
Third in the IRC Division 2 fleet on handicap and just off the John Garrow Shoal just four miles from the finish was Sam Haynes Celestial Animal, the well campaigned Rogers 46, at the time of writing she was sailing at nine knots.
Previously owned by Rob Hanna and raced as Shogun, she took a second IRC overall in a Sydney Gold Coast race and grabbed a West Coaster line honours win. This season in the Gold Coast Haynes took second in IRC Division 2. She followed this up with a third in IRC for the CYCA’s Flinders Islet Race; scored a hat-trick of divisional wins (IRC, PHS and ORCi). Celestial is currently placed second in IRC and PHS divisions of the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore Series and leads the ORCi division.
Fourth on handicap at the stage was Phil Simpfendorfer's Elliott 44 Veloce just half a mile ahead of OCL. She won back-to-back handicap victories in the Melbourne to Hobart yacht race in 2010 and 2011 and took line and handicap double in the King of the Derwent, in 2011.
Fifth on handicap, Bruce Taylor’s Chutzpah Reichel Pugh 40, 12nm N of Tasman Island, 20 miles back. Taylor has notched up a second and third overall, and an amazing 10 divisional wins in the Hobart race.
Sail-World spoke to Brett Filby navigator on Occasional Course Language just before they rounded Tasman Light.
‘It’s great racing in this division. We had quite a good start. We were on the breeze pretty much in about 15 to 20 pretty much all afternoon into the evening and then it went quite light and it was a comfortable work and two sail reach down to the bottom of New South Wales.
Bruce Taylor's Chutzpah, Rolex Trophy - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2102
‘Then we had really nice north easterlies across Bass Strait and we had some good hours of pretty much top speed there. It was fantastic sailing. It was the first time the boat has really had a chance to sail deep offshore with lots of breeze. I tell you what it was a fantastic ride. We made some good gains downwind. We did quite well against AFR and Celestial and Rikki and a few other boats around our sort of size.
‘Then it went light, we were 50 or 60 miles off Northern Tasmania coast and it may or may not have been the best place to be. It is difficult to say. There weren’t too many boats that were inside of us and a lot more boats outside of us.
‘We were on the breeze and we were running with zero’s and all different combinations and then the south westerly came through and didn’t take very long for it to freshen in so we have been just getting back onto the coast where we thought there would be flatter water and a similar breeze.
AFR Midnight Rambler - Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 2012
‘It’s been tough for quite a while. We have seen 35 knots and boats ahead have reported 40 knots in Storm Bay. There is plenty on.
‘The boat is going absolutely fantastically. It rides the seaway beautifully and it handles rough weather upwind. We haven’t got a foot of water downstairs like the last boat. (The just retired Dump Truck) This is actually quite dry.
‘We are having a cracking race; we are supposed to be the slowest of the top group on handicap. The 46 footer Celestial has got away on us a little bit upwind but we are keeping pace with the Elliot 44 Veloce and the Ker 40 AFR Midnight Rambler. We have three reefs and a large jib. .
‘When we turn the corner if the breeze stays the same angle we will get some reaching and a little running across the Cape Raoull and reaching across to the Iron Pot, probably with about between 20 and 30 knots. It’s a blast!!'
21, CELESTIAL - ASSISTANCE DOGS, Sail No: 421, Owner: Sam Haynes, Design: Rogers 46, LOA (m): 14.0, State: NSW