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There's a place called Hobart

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 22 Nov 2020 13:30 PST
Comanche made the final dash to the Rolex Sydney Hobart finish line contending with fickle breeze ahead of the other four super maxis © Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

It's pretty special all year round. Hobart is also a marvellous springboard from which to leap into history, culinary delights, nature's gifts of both flora and fauna, all manner of beverages, trails, bushwalking, and nearly anything you can come up with. Yet it is about now that it gets the ocean racers all fired up, even though there can be a mixed feelings depending on recent successes, or not...

Evidently, the green light for the Sydney to Hobart race has not only buoyed the sailors, but the industry too. International Rope Braid, who have said they are the only rope manufacturer in Australia, are very busy at the moment producing a variety of rope and cordage for the Sydney to Hobart yachts.

Sad and curious tale

Our Managing Editor, Mark Jardine, and I have been all over the developments in the short-handed world this year, and Mark's editorial, Double Trouble? certainly highlighted the potential storm that eventually arrived after the closure of entries for this year's Hobart.

We are clear that autopilots are just another tool in the arsenal of electronic and mechanical aids for sailors, and that sailing isn't just helming - far from it! At any rate, the two protests resulting from the two-handers being removed from contention for the Tattersall's Cup in 2020 will be heard by an International Jury on Thursday, November 26.

The theory is that the CYCA's unwritten Rule 52 LOA cannot hold sway over the real Rule 52, which is pretty clear. So anyway, let's hope it all ends happily, and the fleet can go out at full strength come Boxing Day. It really would be wonderful to see one whole third of the 100-boat fleet as two up, and really show the international audience that will mostly be in lockdown just how well it is received, and what 2024 will offer.

On a brighter note, in my last editorial we talked about the short-handed sailing expo that the Royal Prince Alfred YC hosted on Saturday just passed. It went off really well, was very positive, and all guest speakers, like Lee Condell of Performance Boating, reported fielding good questions from the attentive and enthusiastic audience. Ray Entwhistle from J/Boats had a J/88 (their Olympic hopeful) and J/99 on display, there was a Jeanneau Sun Fast 3200, and a Beneteau First 27 from Flagstaff Marine for all the attendees to scour over, and evaluate.

Pondered, but not to be

Potentially, the opening of borders inside Australia proffered the chance for the famous Westcoaster to get a last minute reprieve, which would have proven to be a real boon for the burgeoning two-hander fleet. Alas, it is not to be, with the ORCV not able to hold their race to Hobart, as we announced in Decloaking Klingon Bird of Prey to Port.

New Commodore, Grant Dunnon, commented before heading off to sail in their Sprint Series, which actually ended up a bit more of a driftathon, "The ORCV remains committed to the double-handed fleet. With Victoria and Tasmania's borders set to open on November 27, we're now focused on getting Australia's oldest ocean race, the Rudder Cup from Melbourne to Devonport, up and running."

"The ORCV created a new division 4+ autopilot. This has allowed boats that struggled to get crew to safely participate and reduce fatigue. This initiative has proven to be a blessing in times of COVID-19."

"The ORCV treats all divisions equally for the overall placing, and rather than mandate one handicap system over another, we normally use the one that has the most entrants - we let the fleet decide!"

The ORCV has had a longstanding and pioneering role in advancing short-handed sailing from Australia's longest ocean race, the 5500nm Melbourne to Osaka, to the shortest with our 55nm Coastal Sprints in Bass Strait, which were new last season and help to develop the next racing group."

"We pride ourselves on the role we play in developing the sport, not just in the different categories of short-handed sailing, but also in facilitating change that remove obstacles to entry for many boats."

One man and a lifelong passion for the water

Maritimo, which was formerly Sy Kleinman's ultra-famous Schumacher 54 Swiftsure II, has had a major birthday since arriving at Boat Masters in Hope Harbour on the Gold Coast. It is very fitting that she goes to a new home that will give her as much love as her original.

Now whilst Maritimo may not have had as an extensive a refit in the same Maritimo facility as Katwinchar that won the veterans division in last year's Hobart, equally, she has not take two and a half years to pop out of the shed, either. Since arriving by ship from San Diego in June it has been all go, go, go, with Kendal Barry-Cotter and Sailing Master Michael Spies overseeing work. The cruiser/racer has a new carbon stick and now sports a prodder as part of her mods and updates.

Bill Barry-Cotter AM is going to Hobart this year aboard the vessel, along with his brother and the crew, and by all accounts, BBC is "...looking forward to being out there with my brother - just like old times." 1976 was their last Hobart together, as it turns out.

Gold Coast Mayor, Tom Tate, will farewell the city's only entry in this year's race this Friday, in a grand affair down the Coomera River and out the Seaway as part of a mass armada including a plethora of the Motor Yachts the company builds.

Acca Dacca

You've been Thunderstruck (now named Stefan Hair). The Botin 80 that started life as Karl Kwok's Beau Geste is making her way to Oz on her own bum for this year's race. Her skipper is Grant Wharington, who knows a lot about driving a boat hard in the ocean, and won the race that captivates a nation with Wild Thing back in 2003. Also part of the ownership mix is the very skilled sailor, Paul Hayes.

So can she be sailed to her numbers? Well they are certainly qualified, and have a handy bag of tricks. There was also plenty of gear that came with it, like two container loads. You might also wonder if it will it get cut and shut after this year's race? Just saying...

At any rate, we'll take any chance to use this image from our very special friend, the total master that is Richard Bennett, who no doubt will be at Mures once more by the time the boats arrive. Go see him and the family for keepsake images of your vessel.

The wind and the Willos

It seems like yesterday that part of one of Victoria's most famous ever band of sailors, GA, passed away. We now learn that the Bus indeed had two more stops planned, and they both happened this month. John 'Willo' Williams and wife Yvonne have both gone to run effortlessly under kite in the tropics for evermore.

I remember seeing GA and Margaret, Willo and Yvonne at Cleopatra's Baths in Turkey at least 15+ years ago. Whilst GA and Willo were known for racing, they loved to cruise too, and their friendship is evidenced by them taking holidays like the one I mention here. Happy, helpful, endearing and funny - different men, but very similar qualities, dispositions, and outlooks.

The Williams' offspring, Pete, Bruce, Elizabeth, and Michael (Mikey) all sail, and will have no end of wonderful memories with which to honour their parents. Best to you all...

Tears could turn to joy?

Well back then I was sad to learn that the F50s would not be whizzing about Sydney Harbour this Summer. The chance to see the big 24m rigs and new high lift foils had me all fired up. Then came the tears. However, it would not surprise me if SailGP started in Sydney or Auckland in April 2021. We should hear this week if us Antipodeans can expect to have the F50s duke it out once more before our eyes. Oh the joy...

Right oh - there is plenty of information on the group's websites for you to review when you can. Please avail yourself of it.

Now if your class or association is generating material, we can help you spread your word just by. 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, thank you for keeping a weather eye on Sail-World. Your increased patronage and sensational, heartfelt comments have made our crew work even harder to bring you the best from all over the globe...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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