The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 had been a testing journey for 2012 Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year Justin Wells and the crew of Dump Truck, who vowed to make their return in the Boxing Day classic after retiring from this year’s race with the finish line just roughly 100 nautical miles away.
06, DUMP TRUCK, Sail No: A 6, Owner: Justin Wells & Edward Fader, Design: Ker 11.3, LOA (m): 11.4, State: TAS Start of the 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart
'It was one of the hardest decisions of my life,' said skipper and 2012 Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year, Justin Wells. 'To say to your crew ‘I’m sorry, we’ve got to radio in, we’re out’, that’s tough, really tough.'
At the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia before the start cannon fired on Boxing Day, the close crew of 10 huddled for a final briefing. Wells told his crew to have confidence; they’d done everything they could to be race ready.
They were champions of their local offshore series, they were well versed on their man overboard drill and the Ker 11.3’s rig had passed its dye test in July.
The green boat started with the big guns on the first line without issue. Day two they flew their Code Zero, racing at wind speed. 'We saw a lot of boats bigger than us trail behind us, which is always a big plus,’’ Wells said.
On day three, despite being the smallest yacht in Division 2, they were mid fleet and ready to capitalise with their home-water advantage as they raced off Tasmania’s east coast.
With near gale force southerlies nearing, the crew reefed the mainsail and the bowman went up the mast to check the decade old stainless steel rig. But a massive bang at about 1400 AEDT on December 30 signalled their race end.
The port, and then windward, D2, which stabilises the mast, had broken.
'Justin Foster just yelled to the crew to get off the rail; he crash tacked, he had to, to save the rig,’’ Wells said.
The crew lowered the mainsail along with their hopes of finishing the race.
'There was some deliberation, but with the forecast for bigger waves and more breeze from the south, the rig wouldn’t have lasted,’’ Wells said.
'There’s a lot of scenarios: had the forecast been lighter, had it have happened further south when we were rounding Tasman we might have been able to nurse her home.'
The crew limped to shore to refuel before motoring through the protected waters of Denison Canal and docking at their home club, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania on Sunday.
Over a couple of beers with family and friends Wells admitted that while he and his crew were shattered, it wouldn’t be their last.
'I can’t say whether it’ll be next year, or five years, but we’ll be back’’ he said.
Dump Truck was one of five Tasmanian entries. Tony Lyall’s Cougar II was the first home, finishing in 16th place and seventh in IRC Division one.
Helsal III finished 31st across the line, Martela was 61st and Sean Langman’s Maluka of Kermandie is expected to be last across the line tonight.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012