For this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the 50th applicant for entry is Colin Woods’ 50 footer Pretty Fly III.
In last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, the toughest since 2004, Woods tasted a near overall victory, finishing fourth in the fleet on IRC handicap from a red hot fleet.
Rather than just the challenge of competing in the 628 nautical mile ocean classic, suddenly a top result is at the forefront of his mind. 'After last year’s race we realised the boat’s capabilities lie offshore,' acknowledged Woods.
This year we’re going to drive it to its maximum,' added the Sydney based owner/skipper and CYCA member.
'The handicap result is what it’s all about, it’s what we all strive for,' he said, referring to the revered corrected time result that gives the majority of race entries a chance to have their name added to the race annals and the sterling silver Tattersall’s Cup, first awarded in the 1946 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Pretty Fly III is a canting keel Cookson 50 purchased by Colin and wife Gladys in 2009, replacing their well campaigned Beneteau 47.7. 'I always thought the Cookson 50 was the right boat for a Hobart and last year we realised its potential,' said Woods. 'When it gets tough on the water this boat comes into its own.'
The TP52s might have outstripped the Cookson 50s in terms of popularity in Australia, but speed-wise in a variety of conditions, the two designs are well matched. In last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, Chris Bull’s Cookson 50 Jazz finished second overall, Rob Hanna’s TP52 Shogun third and Wood’s Pretty Fly III fourth overall.
Colin Woods and his crew have decided to stick with last year’s formula; minor adjustments to their sail locker the only variation. 'We’ll have our core crew plus some newcomers and Pretty Fly will be in tip top condition,' he said. 'We’ll be praying for 25 plus knots on the beam or hard running. Of course whatever I want we’re not going to get,' laughs Woods, all too familiar with the race’s multiple personalities.
CYCA Commodore, Garry Linacre, is anticipating a final fleet of close to 90 for the highly anticipated Boxing Day start of the southern hemisphere’s best known yachting event.
The latest application for entry list stands at 53, representing all six Australian states plus overseas nominations from the UK, USA and New Zealand. Applications for entry close at 1700hrs AEST on 1 November 2011.
Rolex Sydney Hobart website