by Di Pearson
The final stretch of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 proves to be an up-hill battle for the remaining fleets of the 628-nautical mile ocean race as gusty 30-knot southerly breeze along with heavy downpour and poor visibility make sailing for the participating skippers and crew a bit grueling on their way to Hobart.
Brindabella’s crew were happy to better their line honours result by two places this year
While disappointment was high on the list of those aboard Jazz and Calm this morning, a screaming 30 knot southerly was reported off Tasman Island, along with heavy rain and poor visibility, making life tough for the bulk of the fleet still racing in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s predictions at the final briefing of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia on Boxing Day morning warned competitors of a gale force southerly, so it has come as no surprise. However, it will be uncomfortable and unpleasant.
Meanwhile the bitter pill for Chris Bull and his Jazz (NSW) crew and Victorian Jason Van Der Slot and his crew on Calm this morning, is the ‘so close and yet so far’, as both crews come to grips with the fact that both thought they could have the overall win and the Tattersall’s Cup in their hands, only they were stopped by parking lots close to the finish.
It is expected to be announced later this morning that Wild Oats XI has repeated their 2005 performance and taken the triple of race record, line and overall win.
Winning the famous 628 nautical mile race overall is often like the toss of the dice – the weather is either with you, or against you. This year it was more suited to the bigger yachts which stormed home in big northerly and north-easterly winds.
Calm, moored at Kings Pier this morning, her co-owner Van Der Slot and crew looked shattered. Had they finished the race just after 1.00am this morning, the race was theirs. Unfortunately, they found two parking lots close to the finish.
'The Tasman hasn’t been good to us. We parked for two hours off Tasman Island and for an hour in the Derwent. We watched Jazz come up to us under kite – they took 20 miles out of us finding their own private breeze. We only just beat them over the line – that was hard,' Van der Slot said.
'We were aiming to finish in time to win – around 1.00am – that’s the cruelty of it all. Up to Tasman Island, we were on track. It had all gone according to plan until then… We did everything possible to win this race. It was perfect until the last section – we had their (Wild Oats XI and Jazz) measure.
'It doesn’t help being the top TP52 home: we wanted to win. Our crew was prepared – we trained in the gym – and we made sure the boat was prepared – in fact, we were so well prepared, broke nothing on our boat,' said Van Der Slot.
The Victorian said he had beat the likes of Shogun (Rob Hanna) and Cougar II (Anthony Lyall) because: 'We stayed offshore at bit at St Helens, the others went in.'
Tenth across the line, the Brindabella crew were happy with their lot in life, even though they had parked up with so many others who finished, or were on the way to the finish this morning. 'Jim’s (owner Jim Cooney) pretty happy; we finished two places better on line than last year,' sailing master Brad Kellett said.
Kellett told how they found the big parking lot with a lot of others. 'We reached Maria Island and ran out of breeze,' he said. 'I handed the helm to one of our young guys, Tristan Cross, and said ‘It’s your turn to steer backwards, I already had a go at doing that in the CYCA Trophy Series!’
Calm's crew shattered to miss the overall win
'We’re pretty pleased with our race,' said Kellett, who told of the match race to the finish line with Bob Steel’s 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart winner, Quest, whom they shared their finish time with.
Kellett said that like the bigger yachts before them, they had enjoyed the fast running conditions. 'The only damage we did was to blow up an A4 kite and one of the bunks.'
Twelve yachts had finished the race at 9.00am, the latest arrival being the 2010 overall winner, Holdens Secret Mens Business, owned by South Australian Geoff Boettcher.
The next two boats to arrive will be internationals; Japan’s KLC Bengal 7 (Yoshihiko Murase) and Ambersail (Simonas Steponavicius), the race’s first ever entry from Lithuania. The two were racing within 20 minutes of each other.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 website