Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – Winning on handicap

by Jim Gale on 21 Dec 2011
Ed Psaltis and Michael ’Mix’ Bencsik - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2011 © Rolex/ Kurt Arrigo http://www.regattanews.com
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, organised by the CYCA, is being held on 26th December 2011 (Boxing Day). The race for line honours in the 628 nautical mile race is pretty straightforward. The fastest and largest boat wins. But winning the race on handicap, the ultimate prize for every ocean racer, is a much more complex business.

The fastest boat doesn’t always win. Indeed more often than not it is pipped at the post by an altogether slower yacht

At the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race overall contenders press conference held at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia this morning, super maxi Lahana’s tactician, Carl Crafoord, said, 'I’d like to think we had a shot at line honours, but that’s a big ask'.

Crafoord conceded that Wild Oats XI and Investec Loyal are faster boats, 'but if this is a big boat race I am very confident we can win it.'

What is he on about? Fastest and winner aren’t the same?

It all comes down to each boat’s rating, or handicap. The time a boat takes to get to Hobart is multiplied by its rating, and this ‘corrected’ time decides the winner of the Tattersall’s Cup. And a boat’s rating takes in a host of considerations, like sail area, canting or fixed keel, age, so that a 35-footer can compete on equal terms with a 100 foot maxi.

As Crafoord points out, despite their speed advantage, Wild Oats XI and Investec Loyal have a bigger handicap than Lahana, so they owe her time. 'If we can stay in their weather pattern and they park up, or have a quiet time in the Derwent, and we are in their time zone, we can beat them on handicap.'

In her division, the boats the 98 foot betchoice.com Lahana has to beat across the line are the 63 foot Loki and the 70 foot Ichi Ban, whose canting keels give them similar ratings to the water ballasted Lahana.

The old Hobart adage is: ‘to win the race you have to win your division’, and then hope that the particular weather patterns will favour your division, because this is a marathon and different sized boats sail at markedly different speeds. Each division will likely race in a weather pattern that is completely different from the other divisions.

You win your division by sailing to your rating, to your boat’s full potential, for more of the race than your rivals, though even that may not be enough.

'A third of winning the race is pre-race preparation, a third is sailing the boat well, and a third is weather,' AFR Midnight Rambler’s co-owner Michael Bencsik explains: 'The first two you can control. The rest is a punt. AFR Midnight Rambler is designed to go upwind okay, and really take off when the wind shifts around to the beam or astern.

'She is a bit faster upwind than Bruce Taylor’s Chutzpah, but cannot match the Victorian sled downwind.'

Bencsik is gambling on a race that will have enough upwind time to cancel out Chutzpah’s downwind advantage.

Sean Kirkjian has chosen a Beneteau 45 as the platform for a campaign to win the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart that has been in the making for two years. The Beneteau Victoire is good upwind, but will not see AFR Midnight Rambler and Chutzpah for dust, or spray at least, when the wind blows from the north.

'It’s a bit like the tortoise and the hare,' Kirkjian says. 'We’re like the tortoise. We lumber along and keep going at a certain speed all the time. These guys tend to stay with us upwind and when the wind turns they take off. But they are handicapped accordingly.

'Fronts come from the south and we are sailing into them, so you might hit one or even two fronts in a typical Hobart. Sailing north is a different story.'

On top of all this, navigators and tacticians have to make the right choices. Sometimes the weather suits a straight line to Hobart, but sometimes a longer route further out to sea turns out to be fastest. Make the wrong choice and you can blow your race.

'With all the information about the weather you get these days, and the yacht tracker (which shows where your competitors are in real time) it’s like a constantly moving chess game,' says Crafoord.

Finally, you have to win not one race, but two. There is one race to Tasman Island, and one across Storm Bay and up the Derwent River, that tends to go all breathless in the middle of the night.

Two years ago Tony Kirby, skipper of Patrice Six, won the first race hands down, and then lost the second race in the darkness of the Derwent. 'It’s happened to me four times,' Kirby said ruefully. 'We’ll have to get there earlier this year.'

For more information on ‘Handicapping the Hobart’ click Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race website
Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best EyewearWildwind 2016 660x82Schaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82

Related Articles

2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart images
The 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was extraordinary with an unexpected Line Honours winner The Sail-World team have compiled a gallery of images from the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart from notable photographers Daniel Forster and Kurt Arrigio.
Posted on 7 Jan 2012
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race overall
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2011 was notable for an unexpected winner of the coveted line honours trophy Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2011 was notable for an unexpected winner of the coveted line honours trophy, a worthy overall winner and a slow passage home for the smaller boats. The Boxing Day start of the 628 mile race south to Hobart was spectacular, with the 88-strong international fleet setting off from the heart of Sydney Harbour, with its iconic bridge and Opera House as a backdrop.
Posted on 1 Jan 2012
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Divisional winners awarded
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - At a ceremony this morning the divisional winners were awarded. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - At a ceremony on Hobart’s Constitution Dock this morning the divisional winners were awarded. Having arrived ninth into Hobart, Chris Bull’s British Cookson 50 Jazz picked up honours in IRC Division 0, was second in ORCi Division 1 and finished fourth overall under IRC.
Posted on 31 Dec 2011
Rolex Sydney Hobart – Its a cruel race says the winner
Rolex Sydney Hobart 2011 overall handicap winner Stephen Ainsworth first sailed his own yacht in the 1998 Hobart race. Rolex Sydney Hobart 2011 overall handicap winner Stephen Ainsworth first sailed his own yacht in the 1998 Hobart race. A tough initiation but things have improved since then, as Stephen explains to Sail-World.com.
Posted on 31 Dec 2011
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – Loki announced handicap winner
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – This morning (local time) Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki was announced the handicap winner. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki was announced the handicap winner this morning (local time). At a presentation on board their white four year old Reichel Pugh 63 footer, Ainsworth and his crew were presented with a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece by Patrick Boutellier of Rolex Australia and the much coveted Tattersall’s Cup
Posted on 30 Dec 2011
Rolex Sydney Hobart 2011 - Nothing accidental about Loki’s win
It took Sydney-based Stephen Ainsworth 14 years to claim the elusive Tattersall’s Cup, and as he put it so succinctly, ' It took Sydney-based Stephen Ainsworth 14 years to claim the elusive Tattersall’s Cup, and as he put it so succinctly, 'it was a big box to tick'.
Posted on 30 Dec 2011
Rolex Sydney Hobart - 13th try a charm as Loki takes overall victory
In the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Loki’s 13th go round has come to fruition after some 12 years spent trying to win In the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Loki’s 13th go round has come to fruition after some 12 years spent trying to win. This morning at 8:40am, Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki was declared the overall winner of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart.
Posted on 30 Dec 2011
Rolex Sydney Hobart 2011 - Loki wins Tattersalls Cup
A look at the boat speeds at 0430 this morning as the 40 footers float in Storm Bay, confirms what most suspected. Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel Pugh 63 Loki will today be declared the Overall Handicap winner of the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Second in Division 1 and second overall will be Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll and third place will go to 42 Sydney Hobart veteran Syd Fischer’s modified TP52Ragamuffin. Ragamuffin will also be the ORCi handicap overall Sydney Hobart winner.
Posted on 30 Dec 2011
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – Battle to win Tattersall’s Cup
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – Focus has now shifted to the handicap race under IRC for the Tattersall’s Cup Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – Focus has now shifted to the handicap race under IRC for the Tattersall’s Cup, which is regarded Australia's foremost offshore sailing prize. Stephen Ainsworth’s crew on the successful Reichel Pugh 63 Loki is hoping that their corrected time in the race, that currently has them second under IRC, will elevate them to first place.
Posted on 29 Dec 2011
Rolex Sydney Hobart 2011 ORCi versus IRC as handicap rule
Rolex Sydney Hobart 2011 – tomorrow the handicap winner for this year’s race will probably be decided. Rolex Sydney Hobart 2011 – tomorrow the handicap winner for this year’s race will probably be decided. The overall IRC handicap rating winner will receive the prestigious Tattersalls Cup and there will be IRC results for 72 boats across four divisions. At the same time, there will be another set of handicap results for yachts sailing under the ORCi handicap rating, 38 boats in three divisions.
Posted on 29 Dec 2011