The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was mixed for the crew of Volvo 60 Merit, which made her arrival in Hobart safe and jubilant after a special RSHYR dedication in Sydney, as the crew made the decision to make the race a tribute to noted Tasmanian maritime figure and avid sailor, Nick Wells, who sadly passed on in November.
Wells’ son, Ben, joined the Queensland entry for his fifth Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and said he was touched by the dedication. 'It was a bit of a surprise when the boys told me they were going to do that,' Ben said. 'It's a lovely gesture and much appreciated.'
A former project manager at Incat, as well as member of the crew of the 50th anniversary1994 line honours winner Tasmania, Nick Wells was well known by the crew and Merit's skipper Leo Rodriguez, who remembered Wells’ love of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s annual Hobart race.
For Rodriguez and the rest of Merit’s crew, it was a patchy race, with a strong front on the first night causing the mainsail to rip and a cringle (rope ring) to be pulled from the headsail.
'It's the usual damage you expect from a Sydney Hobart,' Rodriguez said, with the crew suffering some injuries as well.
'Unfortunately, I have a cut under my eye where a (food) container landed on my head while I was asleep; and another crew member has a badly twisted knee, but it was the sail damage that slowed us down.'
While the torn sail hurt their chances of doing well on handicap, Rodriquez said it was the light patches that proved the most frustrating.
'Usually rounding Tasman Island is a highlight. Unfortunately, this time we were parked there for about six hours,' Rodriguez said. 'Merit is a boat that likes heavy weather and we just didn’t have that.'
Despite the variable weather conditions and sail damage, the crew were happy to finish the race and be able to pay tribute to a fellow sailor.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race website