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Sydney Hobart – Double Up to Double Down

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 31 Dec 2021 20:42 PST
Class 40 Sidewinder - Tasmanians Rob Gough and John Saul - winners of the inaugural two-handed division 2021 Sydney Hobart © Clayton Reading

He’s been with us the whole way, and given a special insight into the new Two-Handed division of the Hobart. Lee Condell of Performance Boating is meant to be having a well-earned family break, but managed to sneak in enough time to give us his thoughts before it is all done and dusted for another year.

“I may be wrong, but there doesn’t appear to have been a trophy for the first mixed two-handed crew, and there were two mixed crew finishers in the division. If that is the case, Performance Boating will put up a proper Mixed Crew Trophy for next year (if I’m allowed to do so……)”

Rolex Sydney Hobart Inaugural Two-Handed division:

“The first ever two-handed division in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart was enthusiastically embraced, with 18 entries on the start line out of a total starting fleet of 89. Those entered did so knowing that they were not eligible for the overall Tattersall Trophy. That didn’t dampen the enthusiasm in the division, with a core group of the entries having raced each other in recent CYCA Bluewater Point Score races, where the J/99 Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth, sailed by Jules Hall and Jan Scholten had shown good form, having spent the winter training and optimising their yacht.”

“However, the gap was closing from the other yachts, with the First 34.7 Speedwell, crewed by Campbell Geeves and Wendy Tuck, winning the tough Cabbage Tree Island Race. The interstate entries were a little unknown in this company, though the Sun Fast 3300 Hip-Nautic, being sailed by Jean-Pierre Ravanet and Drew Meinke, had won the Launceston-Hobart last year, and the Sun Fast 3600 Maverick being sailed by Rod Smallman and Leeton Hulley, has lots of miles under it, including a third place in the last 5500NM Melbourne-Osaka with Rod as co-skipper. So Maverick was definitely to be a contender.”

“The new Class 40 Eora sailed by Rupert Henry and Greg O’Shea was expected to be very fast in the right conditions, and it was going to be fascinating to see it pace against the other Lombard Class 40 Sidewinder from Hobart, sailed by Rob Gough and John Saul.”

“And so to the start, with a separate fourth starting line arranged for the division. Hip-Nautic looked to mean business as they were bang on the line with pace and lead the fleet, but it didn’t take long for Eora to wind up and take off in impressive style to lead the division out of the Heads, and onto the wind. Also strong onto the start of a long and gruelling upwind 36 hours were Peter Franki and Drew Jones on the Sydney 36 Salt Shaker, as well as Maverick, and the Sun Fast 3200 Hell’s Bells from Queensland, with Lincoln Dews and Andrew Scott aboard.”

“Reports on that first night across the fleet were that it was extremely tough, with wind up to 38 knots in the gusts, but it was the wind against the current that created hollow backs to the waves that was absolutely punishing. One two-hander commented to me that that he felt he needed to be strapped in at the helm as he kept getting thrown across the cockpit.”

“Not unexpectedly there were multiple retirements, with Eora out with a broken backstay whilst in the lead, Hip-Nautic with a torn mainsail, and Hell’s Bell’s who almost made it out of the strong headwinds only to find that they had mechanical problems and couldn’t recharge their batteries.”

Sidewinder then became the Line Honours leader for the remainder of the race. The S&S 34 Crux with Carlos Aydos and Peter Grayson revelled in the tough going, and being the lowest rated was well in contention. Disko came though the first night well and opted to be the furthest East, while Saltshaker was the furthest West, and Rum Rebellion, Sidewinder and Crux came just inside the rhumbline.

“Maverick tended to between this group, and Disko was out wide. Placings changed little through the day, though the Queensland First 42s7 Euphoria II sailed by Marc Stuart and Richard Combrink closed on the leading group. Joker on Tourer sailed by Grant Chipperfield and Peter Dowdney was in the mix under PHS, and bringing up the rear was the Radford Flat White sailed by Jen Linkova and Jason Cummings.”

“Through the second night Disko did a big tack out on Starboard to remain well East of the division, while Saltshaker, Rum Rebellion, and Speedwell remained in very close proximity for the next 36 hours. Maverick by this point had taken the lead on IRC, only to hit an unidentified object that sheared the starboard rudder off, and cracked the deck, forcing their retirement. As the day progressed and the breeze backed off, Disko came out in front on IRC with a sizeable lead, but remained East of the Rhumbline, while just about everyone else stayed well West.”

“As the breeze went North and lightened it became a very long light air run with big gybing angles all the way down the Tassie coast to Tasman Island. Key here was Crux who might have been expected to struggle in these conditions, but did a superb job to stay in contention, and while the group to the West initially made some gains coming away for Maria Island, Disko defended well from the Eastern side.”

“Meanwhile out in the lead, but only by some 15 miles at Tasman Island, was Sidewinder who at last enjoyed some power reaching across Storm Bay, sitting on 16 knots to extend their lead, and crucially make it to the finish just as the breeze shut down for the night. The first ever two-handed Line Honours winner.”

“Disko Trooper made it around Tasman Island in some breeze and made it to within 20 miles of the finish when the wind died, and then had an excruciating final six hours to the finish line in order to collect the win under IRC. Not only that, but also ORCi and PHS.”

“However, to understand just how phenomenal their performance was, reflect on this. They posted the fourth best corrected time across the entire Hobart fleet! An exceptional result, so congratulations Jules and Jan.”

“For the remainder of the front-runners more drifting conditions continued through the day with the next yacht home being Saltshaker, some eight hours later, followed by Joker, and then Speedwell. However, by the time Crux had rounded Tasman Island they had some breeze across Storm Bay, and this brought them back to record a superb second place under IRC, with Speedwell taking out third place.”

“Without doubt the two-handed fleet captured the imagination of the sailing and general public, and all ten finishers deserve high praise. For amateur sailors, putting together a two-handed campaign is a big undertaking, especially in the year that we’ve had, so a huge ‘well done’ to all of those who made it to the start, and gave it their best shot.”

“With many other short-handed enthusiasts unable to be ready for this year, largely due to the COVID situation, it is highly likely that this division will grow for the next edition of the great race. Bring it on!”

Stay safe, thanks for tuning into, and all the best for 2022.

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