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2021 Sydney Hobart Race, Magnus Olsson Prize, #TeamSeas

by David Schmidt 4 Jan 08:00 PST January 4, 2022
Ichi Ban - 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race © Rolex / Andrea Francolini

The Pacific Northwest might have been buried under snow and unseasonably cold temperatures over the holiday season, but things were decidedly warmer in Australia, where the biggest news from the international sailing community has been coming from, courtesy of the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. The fleet of 88 starting yachts sailed into rough weather for the first several days of their 628 nautical mile offshore contest, eventually triggering the withdrawal of some 27 yachts and making this the roughest Sydney Hobart race in years. Fortunately, conditions eventually abated, and 61 yachts made it to the finishing line.

The race's top perpetual trophy for corrected time, the Tattersall Cup, went to skipper Matt Allen and his Ichi Ban crew after some time in the protest room. Impressively, this marks the third time that Allen's well-sailed TP52 has won the Sydney Hobart (2017, 2019, and now 2021).

"This is a time we will never forget," said Allen in an official race communication. "I have a mix of young, old and wise crew. It was a great opportunity for the guys who worked so hard. To win with Ichi Ban a third time is unbelievable."

While Allen's win generated plenty of international ink, the 2021 race was unique in that it marked the first time that two-handed teams were allowed to compete in this classic offshore contest. The doublehanded crews weren't eligible for the Tattersall Cup, but they proved that they could hang in the rough stuff and make a fine showing in Hobart.

Skippers Rob Gogh and John Saul, sailing aboard their Akilaria Class 40, Sidewinder, were the first of the two-handed teams to reach the finishing line, while skippers Jules Hall and Jan Scholten, sailing aboard their J/99, Disko Trooper-Contender Sailcloth won the Two-Handed IRC, Two-Handed ORCi, and Two-Handed PHS divisions.

"Both of us steered the whole time," said Gogh in an official race release. "It's just really long stints of steering... It was a really interesting sea state. There were no backs on the waves. You just come out and slam. I thought we were going to break the boat in half. The pilot wouldn't know what to do there, so we steered on and off."

Sail-World tips our hats to all winners, finishers, and crews that got to the starting line of this year's Sydney Hobart. The path to the starting line wasn't easy, given the still-churning state of the pandemic, but the entire sailing world was certainly happy (if not downright relieved) to see this classic race unfurl in dramatic style, given all that's simultaneously unfurling ashore.

The holidays can sometimes be a slow time in the sailing world, especially in the northern hemisphere, where thoughts are now turning to racing in Florida and the Caribbean, but word recently broke that double Olympic gold medalist and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Martine Grael (BRA) was awarded the Magnus Olsson Prize.

This award, which is given by the Magnus Olsson Foundation, is awarded to an individual who has made a big impact on the sport of sailing. Grael's name now joins a list that also includes Torben Grael (her father), Sir Ben Ainslie, Stan Honey, Santiago Lange, Grant Dalton, Carolijn Brouwer and Peter Burling.

"After [winning] the gold medal in Rio, me and my 49er teammate, Kahena Kunze, decided that we needed a distraction," said Grael in an official communication. "And since the '14-15 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, with the all-women Team SCA that made a big impression on me, I had been looking for an opportunity to move into offshore racing.

"That was a perfect way to re-charge, by facing a new challenge in one of the iconic events of our sport. I learned so much - not just about sailing but also about myself. The Ocean Race pushes you to find new limits. And after that I turned straight back into campaigning for what would become my second Olympic gold medal in Tokyo."

Stepping from the sailing world to the virtual world, and then back to the physical world, comes the story of #TeamSeas, which is a massive crowdfunding campaign that raised $30,000,000 to remove garbage from beaches, rivers and oceans. The fundraising push represented a partnership between Ocean Conservancy and The Ocean Cleanup, as well as prominent YouTube stars. It was launched on October 29, 2021, with the goal of raising $30M by January 1, 2022. The group succeeded in the final hour thanks to a $4M donation from tech entrepreneur Austin Russell.

Impressively, #TeamSeas will use this funding to remove one pound of garbage for every dollar that they received.

"We are incredibly grateful to every single donor, big and small, who contributed to #TeamSeas," said Janis Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy. "This is the start, not the end, of a journey of ocean conservation and advocacy for so many."

To learn more, check out teamseas.org

Also, don't miss the latest news from the America's Cup world, check in with crews as they prepare for the start of the RORC's Transatlantic Race, which starts on January 8 and will take crews from Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, to a finishing line off of Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in Grenada, and—if you're in need of a dinghy fix—check out the reports from the Australian 16- and 18-foot skiff fleets.

Finally, Happy 2022 from your friends at Sail-World. We hope that this year will be one marked by health, happiness, and peace for the entire world.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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