If you were looking for a good news story out of this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Race it would be hard to go past that of Warwick Sherman, owner and skipper of Occasional Coarse Language Too.
Occasional Coarse Language Too crew - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
This time last year Warwick was having to relinquish his goal of racing to Hobart on his brand new Sydney GTS43 while he underwent chemotherapy treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Warwick, who has raced 12 times to Lord Howe Island but who until now had never raced to Hobart, is now in remission and has seized the opportunity to fulfil his long term goal of competing in the big race south.
Having pulled together a team that included some of his regular crew and the core members of the highly successful Tow Truck team, Warwick arrived in Hobart early this morning, not only winning IRC Div 2 on handicap but perhaps more remarkably, beating the hugely successful AFR Midnight Rambler in the process.
Warwick - or 'Woz' as he's better known - was looking tired but clearly delighted with his division win and in particular in holding out the tenacious Midnight Rambler team.
'It feels fantastic' said Warwick who was also full of praise for his crew,
'It was really these guys' victory, they did all the hard work, they were amazing'
Asked how he fared personally, Warwick was his usual candid self,
'For the first day and a half I was up and active, I had a big steer downwind in 25 knots and that was great fun; but then I started getting very tired and at one point was just about hallucinating. I also realised I have no upper body strength at the moment. I got really cold right to the core too. But I have to remember that it was only seven months ago I was in full chemotherapy treatment.'
The last 36 hours was hell. I saw 40 knots on the wind instruments and we regularly had 37s. We had three reefs in the main and a storm jib up; we were even deciding whether to go for a trisail at one point'.
Asked if he would come back again next year, Warwick was quick to reply,
'Nope, first one, last one!' before taking a moment for reflection 'it's just one of those races you can't fudge. Maybe, if I can get the team together again who knows, but let's see'.
The self-effacing Warwick was no passenger on this race. Brett Filby, one of the core members of the Tow Truck team that helped Warwick put this campaign together said that his skipper had been an inspiration on the race course,
'Woz was great for our morale. When things got a bit tough on a few occasions he was great at bringing the team together', said Filby this morning.
Filby confirmed the conditions were indeed tough over the last 36 hours of their race,
'We had 40+ knots from Maria Island south and you can barely race in those conditions. We had this weird moment off Tasman Island and we're doing it tough out on the ocean, when we find ourselves having a harbour race moment; we have to crack sheets to duck behind Veloce who was crossing us on starboard tack!'
AFR Midnight Rambler skipper Ed Psaltis was evidently disappointed in his result this year having battled hard to regain the 19 miles his boat lost to Warwick's team whilst in a hole off the NSW South coast and pulling ahead of Occasional Coarse Language by 3 miles off the Tasmanian coast before finally losing the lead again.
'I'm really disappointed' said Ed, who sets high standards for himself and his team 'we simply didn't do well enough this year'.
Ed also described the race as one of the hardest he recalls since the 1998 and 2000 races,
'Those southerly fronts just kept coming at you; every time you thought you'd got through one, the next one was straight at you. We were regularly facing 40+ knots from Maria Island southward. I feel sorry for those guys still out there, there's another big front coming through.'
Despite his disappointment with his own boat's performance Ed was evidently pleased for Warwick,
'I'm delighted for Woz, he and his team thoroughly deserved that division win.'
These two clearly go back a bit; having interviewed both skippers Crosbie Lorimer asked if he could take a shot of them together; as Ed Psaltis walked across to Warwick's boat for the picture, Warwick suggested that perhaps the photo should be taken on the end of the pontoon,
'Why don't we take the shot up there' he said, pointing forward on the boat and adding with a laugh 'that way Ed will be able to see what the front of our boat looks like'!
Occasional Coarse Language Too crew and support. - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
Warwick Sherman and wife Judy - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
Ed Psaltis, skipper of AFR Midnight Rambler gets his own back on Warwick Sherman! - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
Ed Psaltis, skipper of AFR Midnight Rambler with Warwick Sherman, skipper of Occasional Coarse Language Too. - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012