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Let's start with a round of applause

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 29 Dec 2019 13:00 PST
Many thanks for our great Christmas present - your patronage is greatly appreciated. © Sail-World

Thank you. During the busy Sydney-Hobart period, readership of Sail-World.com was up 20% over the same period from last year, and that's all because of you. So thank you. The server coped with it (mostly). From all of us, including contributors, we clap loudly, and deservedly for you for coming back day after day to read and see what we had to offer you.

We also hope you had a safe and enjoyable Christmas, and may 2020 be everything you need it to be. You have given us a marvellous present, and we are appreciative and grateful.

Now you can join in...

Clap, raise your glass, or nod your head for the crew of Ichi Ban for a magnificent overall win. We placed a cheeky little note in one of the stories back a few days ago, well before they tied up, and mercifully it did not put a hex on their plans or result. Phew!

As for Ichi Ban, she has just completed her third Hobart. In 2017, the then very new Ichi Ban won it overall in her first outing, and now she has again this year, as well. It is a marvellous achievement for Matt Allen's IRC optimised Botin Partners 52, which was built by Spain's Longitud Cero.

Allen said, "As we have spoken about many times before, this is a hard race to win. It certainly is pleasing to see how well it has worked out, after all the effort went into her design and also the entire project itself. We are fortunate enough to have the right boat, sailed by the right crew, and we certainly have had the right luck when it counted, too."

This latter element refers to Allen reflecting on 2016 (in the blue boat that is now Envy Scooters), when they were becalmed within arms-reach of the finish line, and watched their hopes fade away in direct concordance with the second hand sweeping around the clock face.

Does this wipe some of the hard luck stories away? "We all have them; things went wrong, a parking lot somewhere along the way, the River Derwent, and Storm Bay. This is what makes it so enticing, for it is not just a pure boatspeed drag race. You have to pull it all together if you are going to do well."

As for this 75th edition, "We had four weather systems in two and a quarter days. That made it challenging. Getting in front of some of the supermaxis as we launched into Bass Strait was cool, and then as a counter point, to the East of Tasman Island we had plenty of breeze, and once around there was nothing. Our 12nm lead eroded down to just two. 'Will they go around the inside, or outside?' Real heart-in-your-mouth kind of stuff."

"The trough lines were very localised. We sailed past Wild Oats XI, and we were just one mile away... If you got it wrong by a little bit, you were left stranded. Remember, this is in the middle of the ocean, not around land. Our turn for the same agony came when we were in between Chinese Whisper and No Limit. We stayed stuck, and both of them got going into sea mist, whilst we were left scratching our heads."

It must have been a good feeling overall, however, for Allen added, "When we tied up we knew we had all those down to 40 feet. We were confident, albeit we did have to check that the smaller vessels were not able to close in. Ultimately they had spent too long going slowly."

"The other TP52s sailed a really good race, going through the transitions and troughs well. Going in was easy, but if you got lost in there you would simply rip up your ticket. The relative closeness of our competitors meant that if you made one mistake you were gone. Wild Oats did such a good job to come back the way they did."

"It was so critical not to make errors. That was tough, and of course you had to do so repeatedly. I think we had a good boat, she was well prepared, we had the right sails, great crew and they all worked superbly. Yes. It was pretty full-on in that regard. It was very much a tactical race. There were times when we just had to sail the boat, especially at night. Just push hard. Daytime was a tactical duel, all about placing the boat to get through weather systems. It was fascinating."

"Apart from the start, we had a tiny bit of upwind, then it was all reaching and running. It was also pleasant and warm. Most enjoyable, really, with relatively smooth seas. It was physically tough due to manoeuvres, and all of the fast running. It was mentally tough because of all the thinking about where to have the boat placed. The boats that had the capabilities to handle this well did better overall."

By and large, Ichi Ban did lead their group the whole way. It is a bit like F1, where it is easier to win from out in front. "We were in good shape the whole way, and in the TPs you might not be leading, but you do need to be in grasp of the top. Only then can you convert. Bouncing back at 52 feet is harder than if you're 65+. All of them are too close. If they go and you don't, then you're out the back door."

"It is all on to see who can hang in there for the entire journey. Gweilo came at us bringing new breeze, and that was an anxious moment, especially as we rate the same. If they reached us then we would have to have match-raced them the whole way. 2nm is not a massive lead in this race, and we had 90 to 100 degree wind shifts in the River Derwent, so you can really, really hurt there."

As for Ichi Ban herself, "Love the boat, so she's a keeper. Never say never, but for now we love this one. We are always looking for improvements, none the less. She does not have weaknesses: an all-rounder which you need for this race. Just look at the Quest - she's a good all rounder, and she's been around for while," Allen finished with.

The legend that is Richard Bennett

A reminder for those in Hobart that around half (30 pictures) of Richard's awesome exhibition is on display at Hadley's Orient Hotel (right near the dock at 34 Murray Street). Back in Sydney, a snapshot of his exhibition has just opened inside the YOTS Café at the Australian National Maritime Museum. It is easy to find, right down by the water where, presently, Defiance and Zeus II are moored. After they get back, supermaxi InfoTrack, and the TP52 Bush Paul Group will also be right out the front, so it should be very easy to find...

Right oh - there is plenty of information on the website for you to review when you can. It's not all Hobart-centric, such as the world-famous Couta Boats. In the meantime, have a great New Year's Eve. We'll be back here with all the news in 2020.

Now if your class or association is generating material, we can help you spread your word just by emailing us. Got this newsletter from a friend? Would you like your own copy next week? Just follow the instructions on our newsletter page. Whilst there, you can also register for other editions, like Powerboat-World.

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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