With New Year’s Eve looming tonight, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet made tracks to the finish line in Hobart. By midday on December 31, only two yachts were still at sea. From a total of 94 race starters, 82 yachts have now finished in Hobart, and ten yachts had retired.
With the fleet nearly all in, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia announced the Divisional Winners at a presentation on Constitution Wharf in Hobart. Darryl Hodgkinson, owner/skipper of the Cookson 50, Victoire won the Tattersall’s Cup as the Overall Winner (IRC Overall), in addition to winning IRC Division Zero. The Sydney-based plastic surgeon expressed joy… and also relief at having taken the win on his first try with his new boat, which he bought last year on the occasion of his 65th birthday. Asked about defending their title, Hodgkinson said, 'We have a wonderful program and a wonderful team I think the peer pressure will be such that we’ll keeping on ocean racing, and hopefully be back here next year for the 70th Rolex Sydney Hobart.'
Phil Simpfendorfer, sailed Veloce to a second Overall (in IRC) and an IRC Division 2 win. While he has competed with great success in several local regattas, this was Simpfendorfer’s only second Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, and the Victorian skipper admitted, 'I’m a bit of a novice with the race, but had a bit of beginner’s luck! We were in contention until the last several hours – we were getting sort of bashed up in 45 knots – and watched the lead slip away slowly.'
Winner of IRC Division 3, Chris Manton’s Senna, was off Flinder’s Island when the massive southwesterly front came through. Skipper Brendan Garner said, 'The sea state was very confused, with a lot of waves all over the place. We went through the motions and reefed down – and we felt we managed the transition quite well.
Having handled the worst of the extreme weather, the Beneteau 45 was then faced with the notoriously fickle final 11-nautical mile stretch up the Derwent River to the finish. Garner said, 'It’s always a funny place. At the start of the Derwent, the wind shut down, it was quite light and very tricky, and the tide against us. So we really played the shoreline, and sailed in and out of each of the bays to try and make the most of getting in and out of the tide and current, arriving before 6pm last night (December 30).
The boat with the best chance of upsetting Victoire was Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose. While on paper the win may have been achievable, the real truth lay in the challenging conditions. Wild Rose encountered a high of 50 knots off Flinders Island. Hickman recalled, 'The wind was howling, it was really rough, very rough.'
Sailing in his 37th Hobart race, Hickman has seen it all – though even he was surprised when Wild Rose’s speedo pegged 18.5 knots sailing downwind. Hickman said, 'I’ve never seen that from an old boat. You’re just on a knife-edge. But they do say if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space! And we said we were not leaving anything on the table. Wild Rose won Division 4 – and managed to beat all the boats in Division 3 as well.
One of the last boats into Hobart was 41 Sud, an Archambault 40, which crossed the line shortly before 11am AEDT (December 31). Jean Luc Esplaas and his crew sailed the boat 1,000 plus nautical miles from New Caledonia to Sydney for his third go at the race. While Esplaas had hoped for a better result, he was quite happy to be dockside in Hobart. Esplaas will sail 41 Sud back up along the New South Wales and Queensland coasts of Australia before their offshore passage back to New Caledonia.
The back marker was the 45-footer, Namadgi, which at 4pm AEDT was just passing Cape Raoul making six knots of speed and expected at the finish early tomorrow morning (January 1).
Rolex Sydney Hobart
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9:15 AM Tue 31 Dec 2013GMT
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2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
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