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Zhik 2022 Choice of Champions LEADERBOARD

No, we're the underdogs!

by Bow Caddy Media 24 Dec 2021 22:54 PST
Mark Bradford, David Witt and Christian Beck - all vying for underdog status! - Rolex Sydney Harbour Yacht Race © Crosbie Lorimer

With only three 100 footers lining up for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 2021, the usual sparring for underdog status seemed to take on some added vigour at Christmas Eve's media briefing for Line Honours prospects. In truth the unusual race forecast with its punchy, upwind start and numerous transitions down the mainland coast and across Bass Strait is likely to shift underdog primacy as the race progresses.

After a very brief sprint down Sydney Harbour under A sails, the super maxis will likely head out to sea (presumably chasing some south going current) in strong southerly winds and a short sea. Not boat-breaking conditions perhaps, but there's no doubt that Christian Beck's Law Connect will revel in this stuff. And as righting moment is the key to success in these upwind conditions then underdog status will lie squarely with Black Jack for this first phase of the race, having significantly lower righting moment than SHK Scallywag 100 even. But if Black Jack and Scallywag can hang onto Law Connect's coat tails for the first 24 hours, then the game shifts again for the Line Honours contenders.

Despite her greatly extended bowsprit, which increases her sail area and thus improves her light air performance, the Achille's Heel of Law Connect is wetted surface; no amount of additional sail area will overcome that shortcoming in anything less than 9 knots of breeze. Hence, the Law Connect team will be praying that the wind doesn't drop under 10 knots for any length of time. (And you have only to remember the battle up the Derwent River in 2017 when Jim Cooney's Comanche almost stole the show at the last minute from Wild Oats XI as the breeze slowly died, to recall that a couple of zephyr's in the last mile let WOXI slip way across the line as Comanche sat glued to the mirror-like water. OK, so Comanche won with her protest on the Sydney Harbour incident, but you get the point).

The forecast for the remainder of the race shows a slow veer to the SW and decreasing winds, leading into a number of possible transitions between Bass Strait and Storm Bay. So, as a close sister to Wild Oats XI - the exemplar for pulling out early miles in light air transitions - Black Jack may, in those circumstances, leap from underdog to short odds favourite as the race progresses.

As for Scallywag? Well, she'll be wanting to hold onto the stern of Law Connect for the first 24 hours and hope that she's pulled out enough of a lead against Black Jack for when the transitions set in - and as importantly be somewhere between Black Jack and the finish line when that happens.

It's all to play for.

So, which of the underdogs will turn out to be top dog? Only the true punters would bet on that one!

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