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The only way is up

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 30 Dec 2018 13:00 PST
Alive Yachting claim the Tattersall's Cup for the overall win under IRC rating in the 2018 Sydney Hobart race © Crosbie Lorimer

It really would be all too easy to break out into a bit of Yazz about now. That's assuming you're old enough to remember the tune, and what about those cycling shorts with braces. Synth pop. I mean really? Well, it was the 80's. Then of course the moment I wrote 'Yazz', I ended up having a little moment of some 'yazz flute' with Ron Burgundy, so I guess we're certainly smiling now.

However, this is a sailing site. It is in the name, after all. As such, and on the back of the 74th Sydney Hobart, the question became keeping the race relevant, along with generating ideas for the future. For it is limited to just 100 feet LOA maximum, and also only the one hull, which stands quite in contrast to so many of the other iconic events the world over.

A few years back, when interviewing Matt Allen, we unfolded the reasons behind all that, but at Hobart just the other day, the genesis for this editorial was born from the actions of one man. He was part of the crew of legends on InfoTrack that really cranked that boat up, and thereby ensured we had the close finish of four supermaxis that we all enjoyed. His name is Bouwe Bekking, and when talking about where to from here for the race he had just completed, he merely turned his hand over, and raised it.

Yes, the spectre of foiling had emerged from the dark, and given the said preclusions to opening up other genres of the sport to the great race, then perhaps right there in the one gesture was the answer. Alas, even the other really big race that Bekking is so well known for is now about to embark on a whole new era, courtesy of the IMOCA foilers. YeeHaa, huh!

In the right conditions it will all happen in under a day. It will bring a whole new meaning to the different members of the fleet racing in their own conditions, as well as changing the notion of praying that the River Derwent is awake for you when you get there. The apparent wind machine rules. QED.

Seeing as we are speaking of the Hobart, then only way this crew could feel is certainly up. Yes, Phil Turner's sailors really do feel very much alive, after securing the Tattersall's Cup for the overall win under IRC rating. In talking with Kate Hine, we learned that yes they were super happy, and had hoped that it would unfold as it did a few days earlier, but it was a bit tense.

Where it had all been set up was in the transition from New South Wales to Tasmania when the high-pressure system, and the trough did their little dance. "The crux is that there was a hole there, and we just aimed for it. The notion was that if you got far enough South, then you would make it. Certainly it helped having Stacey and the crew on Ocean Respect Racing (Wild Oats X) right there, for it was a bit like a stock whip. It was a fantastic source of motivation."

"Getting through was marginal, and maybe an hour more would have put paid to our plans. Storm Bay was super light, so it was good to make it into Hobart Town. The crew sailed her very quickly. They have been on the Alive Yachting journey for a year, and comprise mostly of inshore cat sailors. The performed good crew work, which was all on the back of some great manoeuvres with sail changes and so forth."

The development of Alive Yachting over their four-year journey has been pleasing to watch. A lot of the sailors on board have come from Beau Geste, Oracle, Team NZ and other sailing team environments. Hine says of them, "They are a dream to deal with - positive, loads of energy, and great skills."

Naturally, Alive's owner, Phil Turner, is ecstatic, and over the moon. For as a Hobartian, he used to come down to the docks with his father to see the boats arrive each year. Hine added, "He feels it is a sense of achievement, for it is a big thing in his family. He used to see it all happen, and now he's done it, which was the mission. To him, this means more than other wins from around the globe."

As for her Skipper, Duncan Hine, Kate says that he "...is thrilled to have got the job done. She is right boat, and matched the original hypothesis of what a winning boat would be. You have to pick a boat that had a niche, and then sail it well, waiting to get the right conditions to suit. We have always been looking at ways to make her lighter, too."

What's interesting is that they blew up the good, new A2 kite within half an hour of putting it up. They were happy to be able to turn to the old one, which means they had planned to have the kites on board for the expected conditions, hence the spare! Again, without that, the result could have been very different.

They did that by going down the mine, and then applying the handbrake at the bottom. Naturally, it is better to lose the kite than have it continue the rig's journey forward whilst the boat stays still. "She is such a strong boat, despite her age, and Duncan did comment about the sound the rig made when the kite went." What Kate was referring to was not the crunch or bang of high modulus carbon, but rather a note, much like some huge string on a massive double bass, as the boat shook out the vibration of the inherent tension.

So from here the plan is to get the R/P66 pencil on a Sevenstar ship from Brisbane bound for Mexico, and she leaves on January 17, so there is a bit on, for before that the Tasmanian crew is going to use her for the King of the Derwent, which is on January 2, 2019. Once in Mexico she will sail up to San Diego, and then ultimately there is the 75th Transpac, and there are some excited souls for that one!

They plan to do some more training ahead of that race. It is also interesting to note that Duncan has now done something like 50,000nm on Alive. Kate did say that he was "still feeling the love for the boat."

OK then. So it may seem like he went down, as in down the River Derwent, but it certainly was a huge 'up' for him! 'He' is Tony Lathouras, who is part of the HF team that keep us so well informed during the race. Olivia Price was kind enough to secure him a seat in the RIB going to catch the Line Honours winner for the last part of her journey to the gun. Thank you, Olivia.

Tony's full account of his experience is utterly hilarious, and with his permission here are a couple of paragraphs from it. "I then discovered that clenching your toes like a canary on a perch, and with walking boots on, did little to try and grip onto the deck of a RIB. I then came to the conclusion that one of two things would happen here. I would either stay in the boat, or I would get tossed out. It appears while I was making these mental decisions that the boat was only at around half throttle, and once opened up, breathing from the seat in front of the centre console was somewhat difficult, and I failed to see how dogs get enjoyment out of sticking their heads out of car windows at high speed while their gums flapped about."

"So clothing. I was wearing a polo top donned as being fast drying beach attire... good start! My jeans had a wet ass within moments of the throttle being opened up, and I truly hope this was due to a wave breaking over us, and not a call of nature that went unnoticed."

"Google Maps tells me the same journey is 42km by car, and 10km point to point. The trip took around 10 minutes, so that puts us at 60kmh, and if research does me well, at around an average of 32 knots. This was into what appeared to be a Southerly. We skimmed over the tops of the choppy water, and to be honest at that time of the morning I have never felt more alive, or glad to be alive. We then got side by side with Wild Oats XI. MAN was that an experience."

"It was right up there with some of the greatest moments in my life. If I'd been in a cruiser I would have just a story to tell. Instead, this was a fantastic experience."

Now speaking of being up, here's a big thank you from us. The entire Sail-World team is really appreciative of all of you, the readers, for checking us out this month. Not only was it the increase in the sheer volume of traffic, but also the amount of material viewed. In doing so, all of you contributed to delivering an all time record! Many, many thanks, for it is really appreciated. So we would like to wish you and your clan a very happy and safe new year...

Right oh here today there are some gems for you to review. We have information about SailGP, which is right around the corner (especially so if you are in Australia), the kids in their Bics, the OKs from Black Rock, Mitch Pearson delivers superb imagery of the 13 and 16 foot skiffs from Brisbane, Hobart (of course we do), the games upon games that is the AC, the Olympic test event at Enoshima, Dragons, Cadets from Tasmania, Santa at Southport, gear from Musto, intel from North Sails, RS Feva, the Clipper, Five Oh World Championship, World Match Racing Tour, and certainly there is much, much more.

Remember, if your class or association is generating material, make sure we help you spread your word, and you can do that by emailing us. Should you have been forwarded this email by a friend, and want to get your very own copy in your inbox moving forward, then simply follow the instructions on our newsletter page, where you can also register for different editions.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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