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Australian Sailing Team members ready to set sail to Hobart

by Lisa Darmanin 22 Dec 2022 21:25 PST
URM Group during the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge © Andrea Francolini

Representatives from the Australian Sailing Team will be boarding boats on Boxing Day to take part in the iconic 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Nacra 17 helmsman Jason Waterhouse and 49er crew Joel Turner will be teaming up on the 72ft long mini-maxi, URM Group, for the 77th edition of the race. Confidence is high for their team after taking out the mini-maxi Australian Championship at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia earlier this month.

Waterhouse shared, "The owner Anthony Johnstone, who is passionate about competing along with program manager Marcus Ashley Jones, has done a great job putting together a great professional crew, along with a good yacht and sails package to give us a chance to take out the IRC division."

The dual Olympian will be tasked with the role of tactician on the boat. "My role is to essentially make sure we beat our competitors to Hobart, using the forecast modelling and tracker to position ourselves appropriately to sail less distance and as fast as possible.

"This will be my second attempt, as we didn't make it far last year due to gear failure. However, fingers crossed we have a better ride south this time."

Teammate Joel Turner is raring to get out the Sydney heads alongside a professional team in what is looking to be a great downwind forecast for his first Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

The Queenslander commented, "It has always been a goal of mine to do the Sydney to Hobart and I sort of made a rule for myself that I wouldn't do it on a boat smaller than 50ft, so I have exceeded my own expectations now in competing on URM.

"I will be trimming the mainsheet and driving throughout the race, I'm sort of Jason's opposite which is kind of cool, so Jason and I get to converse quite a bit whilst we are on the same shift."

Turner explained that although the boat is bigger and the loads are vastly different, the opportunity to sail with 16 other professional sailors is helping him upskill in a way that can translate to his Olympic sailing.

"We've got sail designers, engineers and riggers on board, so whilst the loads and weights are different the principles are all exactly the same," said Turner. "I have been learning a lot about sails, sail shapes and trimming from some guys that have been doing this for decades so it is helping me understand the rig dynamics better in the 49er."

Fellow 49er sailor Jim Colley will be lining up on Sydney Harbour on the DK46, Khaleesi, for his third Sydney to Hobart. He has one successful finish under his belt, but like many others suffered gear failure in last year's attempt and had to back around half-way.

The 25-year old from Avalon shared, "I'll be watch captain, trimming, driving and generally making sure we are going fast with the right sails up."

For many Australians it's tradition to watch the iconic start of the race and Colley is no different.

"Every year my family would walk up to Middle Head and watch the start with binoculars, then I would go home and be glued to the tracker," said Colley.

"Now to be on the other end as a competitor is an amazing opportunity. There is no better environment to push yourself and improve your teamwork, self-management skills and resilience. It often puts into perspective what we classify as 'hard days' in dinghy racing."

Australian ILCA 6 National Coach Carolijn Brouwer will also be taking to the start line as the strategist and watch leader for the TP52, Patrice.

No stranger to ocean racing, the Dutch sailor is looking forward to heading south.

"This will be my fourth Hobart," shared Brouwer. "Not that many really, considering some of the crew are doing anything between their 25th and 30th Hobart race, with the owner Tony Kirby starting his 37th Hobart race on Boxing Day."

With so many boat designs taking part the TP52 fleet will certainly be one to watch. "There will be thirteen TP52s in the race, so we will have a race within a race in IRC 1, which will be very exciting," said Brouwer.

The passion is palpable from the 2018 Ocean Race winner.

"I feel very privileged that I can call the ocean my office and to share this with people that have the same passion is what draws me to ocean racing. I haven't done the race since 2018 so I am excited about everything."

As per tradition, the race will kick off at 1pm local time on the 26th of December with the beautiful backdrop of Sydney Harbour, where 120 boats will take off in a northerly breeze for their ride to Hobart.

For more information on how to watch head to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia website here.

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