A twenty year dream was realised by Rod Waterhouse when he, Kerli Corlett and Rod’s son Jason teamed up to sail their Hobie Tiger from Sydney to Hobart.
This unprecedented feat was no haphazard adventure; it was a meticulously planned and calculated exercise that relied on great ground support, professional weather forecasting and continuous communications. Rod and Kerli who between them have over 60 years of catamaran experience and who have clocked up over twenty 1000+ km endurance races in open catamarans knew the 'Sydney to Hobart' was achievable. 'I tried to do this in the mid-80s, we had a back-up power boat but that didn't work and we called the trip off half-way. It was always a regret' Rod said.
Veteran Hobie sailor, John Hooper, backed up as ground crew and managed communications, speaking by sat-phone every three hours to the crew, relaying the most up to date weather forecast and reporting back to Sydney supporters.
The adventure started when Rod and Kerli sailed their Hobie Tiger from Manly on a sunny Tuesday afternoon with a perfect 'weather window' for Hobart. They called in at Batemans Bay on Wednesday night for some sleep before reeling off the 400 nautical miles to St. Helens, Tasmania in 2 1/2 days.
The Bass Straight crossing was very difficult. 'It's intimidating on a small boat. It's cold, there's no escape, you can't get out of the cold, but that's part of the challenge' Rod said.
The Hobie Tiger is designed and built to Formula 18 specifications and is being considered as a replacement for the Tornado at future Olympics. In other words it is a high performance catamaran, capable of more than 25 knots. In strong breeze with 5 metre waves the biggest challenge was slowing down the quick Hobie as it surfed down the waves of Bass Strait.
'Even with the jib furled and main reefed we often surfed into the back of waves. We were very careful, we had to lose speed to avoid putting it over' Kerli said.
Work duties called Kerli back to Sydney with Rod’s son Jason, a twice-junior world Hobie champion and veteran of two Atlantic and Pacific yacht passages with his family, from continuing the trip from St. Helens to Hobart arriving around 7.00pm on Monday night in a fading breeze.