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Pacific Sailing School 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Rolex Sydney Hobart - What a way to celebrate your 25th

by Jim Gale on 28 Dec 2016
David and Brad Kellett on eve of Brad’s 25 Hobarts Andrea Francolini Photography
When Perpetual Loyal smashed the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race record this morning, it was record number two for her Boat Manager, Brad Kellett, all in the space of less than two days.

When he crossed the starting line on Boxing Day, Kellett became the youngest sailor to compete in 25 consecutive races. That in itself was enough to mark 2016 as a vintage year for him. He has lived and breathed this great race since he was a toddler, trailing his father David around the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia when he was managing some of the greatest maxi yachts of their era.

But to top it off with a Hobart double, first across the line and the race record, how good is that?

“It’s fantastic,” Kellett beamed, minutes after Perpetual Loyal settled in to Kings Pier marina in front of a cheering crowd. “I would never have thought this could happen in a million years.

“It was a big effort. All the guys did a great job and here we are at two o’clock in the morning, five hours ahead of the record. A great feeling.”

David Kellett is still at sea. For 12 years he has been shepherding the race yachts aboard the Radio Relay Vessel, JBW, and of course there are still a lot of boats out there with a long way to go. But it is a safe bet there is a bit of a tear in the old man’s eye this morning. Now both father and son know the joys of winning on handicap and line honours.

Often enough over the years the two have talked during the race when Brad has radioed in his position during the morning and evening skeds, but as it turned out this year, Brad just didn’t have the time.

“I didn’t do the skeds this year - I was just too preoccupied keeping the boat afloat. We had a lot of water coming over the boat and down the hatches.

“But the last comment that was passed on was to keep the boat under the windex (the wind instrument at the top of Perpetual Loyal’s towering mast). We managed to do that pretty well.”

For the first half of the race the crew was pushing Perpetual Loyal to its absolute limits in an epic dual down the NSW coast with Wild Oats XI. The downwind conditions were made to order for Oats, yet somehow Perpetual Loyal stuck on her tail, applying immense pressure on Mark Richards and the Wild Oats XI crew.

“That was the intention,” Brad says, “Someone had to crack.

“That’s not our weather, it’s Wild Oats’ weather, but we put ourselves in a great position, so that when Oats retired, we had enough of a lead over the V70s and Scallywag to win.

“We were all a bit upset when Oats retired. We were having a great race; racing very hard with a full main. The moment it happened we put in a reef, just to have a breather and to double check our boat.

“Within half an hour though, we were full main again and realised the record was in sight, and we said ‘let’s go’”.
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