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Zhik 2021 Season 2 LEADERBOARD

Sydney Hobart – Sharks and Tales

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 27 Dec 2019 18:34 PST
SHK Scallywag would eventually become the leader after the breeze gave out © Crosbie Lorimer

Once again, the five supermaxis showed just how close they really are by finishing the 628nm course within two hours of each other. All very different, yet extremely close, and all with their own individual sweet spots.

Jack Macartney from SHK Scallywag, who had the lead for so much of the race said, “We sailed a nice race, and are happy with what we achieved. Last night we hit a shark whilst doing 25 knots, and then broached as it slammed into the leeward rudder. We had to furl up, and then back down hard, as it was folded around the rudder. Thankfully there was no damage to the boat. We did lose 2-4nm out of the exercise, which meant Black Jack got past us, and Wild Oats XI closed in somewhat. It was great to see the crew work so well all race, not just at that time.”

“All the boats are so close, and you throw in the various sail packages and just sail the boat as best you know how.” In relation to moving out West on that first afternoon Macartney said, “We knew Wild Oats XI would sail deep VMG, so we had to place ourselves for that first transition, and the one we expected in the Derwent, only the second one did not arrive. InfoTrack really fired up overnight, and all in all it was a fun race. It is pretty cool having five, competitive 100s with top crew from all over the world on board. You just don’t get that anywhere else on the planet.”

Stan Honey, Navigator aboard Comanche commented quayside, “It unfolded according to plan. From the outset we had decided to sail our own race. This boat has some weak spots, particularly in the light, so to win we needed to be where the wind was. This explains why we were so far East. It does surprise me that Wild Oats were so far back, as they are so well prepared, and are such a good crew.”

As for the light patches within sight of the line he said, “It felt like we had gone to see a bad movie. ‘O oh I know how this ends and it is not good’, but thankfully it did not happen that way. It is always scary in the Derwent, but thankfully we had enough miles in the bank to allow us to wait it out until more wind arrived.”

Comanche’s owner, Jim Cooney said, “Our plan was always to have a conservative start and then let the hammer down once outside the Heads. Our goal was to put as many miles in front of the others before the first transition. For the restart the next day we had to wait longer perhaps than others, but we reused the same plan, and just put as many miles behind us and the other supermaxis. As for the rest, well Comanche just did what she does best in those kinds of conditions.”

“It was a tiring race for all of our crew, with not a lot of sleep, as we had a lot of manoeuvres and crew work all race, so it was a bit of a sprint the whole way really.”

Bradshaw Kellett, InfoTrack’s Navigator commented, “We worked hard before the race to develop a game plan and it was really tricky, as the models did not line up Christmas Day.”

Variable game plans up until 100hrs on the 26th that we had an idea of what we were going to do. It was one of those races where you had to commit to inshore of off at the Heads. So you could not change your mind later, and perhaps this is what occurred to Scallywag who ended up in the middle.

We stuck to our guns and went downhill VMG not reaching, as this was most suitable for the boat. We waddled our 35 tonnes through the light airs and came out within reach of BJ and Scallywag, whereas Wild Oats got caught in two terrible holes that night and I feel sorry for them. AIS helped us, for we avoided all that, and may well be why we are in second place

A great crew and they worked tirelessly is also a big component - a genuine group effort. Comanche sailed almost twice the distance as us, and was still first so well done to them. We also had great start, and my Dad (David) firing the cannon made for a special day, as well as hearing his voice on the radio (radio relay vessel) the whole way down.”

Mark Bradford is the Skipper on board Peter Harburg’s Black Jack, which pays homage to the legendary Sir Jack Brabham (with motorsport being Harburg’s other great passion). Bradford reflected on it all, “I think we did not get out of the Heads in good shape, and were picking up the pieces after that. The transition went well for us. Scallywag got through that the best, and then us, but really InfoTrack shone, as it is not their space, so to speak.”

“Who knows about Comanche, for no one saw her the whole race once she took off and was in the distance. All credit to them, for they did really well for the whole race. You always have to keep your eye on Wild Oats and history tells you that you should do just that, and we have great respect for them. They had a tough night, and did so well to get back to third place, as we had 10nm on them at that point.”

“History says you can beat them all, like we did in the Southport race, but the reality is that Comanche is another step above these boats in this kind of weather. We really need more variation to make a race of it.”

As for the future, Bradford said tongue in cheek, “Hopefully I don’t get the sack for this race. Peter is committed to this project, and we are off to the Mediterranean with Black Jack in 2020 for a couple of years. Peter just asked if this result meant he had to come back, figuring this was our last Hobart, so I guess you never say never…”

Many, many thanks to Tony Lathouras for his work on the River Derwent, and then quayside at Constitution Dock.

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