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Sydney Hobart – when shorts give way to party pants

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 25 Dec 2022 23:56 PST
All at the front of the bus on andoo Comanche! © Bow Caddy Media

Shortly after they had completed their penalty turns, and by now they were double heady, when the coverage came back you noticed everyone for’ard of the stick had suited up. They were hoisting, via halyard, another sail to come on deck. No doubt to go triple headsail, and really turbocharge it all.

They had slid back to fifth place, then climbed into third, then second, and as the speeds climbed into the high twenties, the party was on. Gone were the Laracca harness over shorts. Party pants and smocks, seaboots and specs were the go. Fashion is always such a statement, and in those conditions, often a really hot one to boot…

It is not that it was cold. It had been in the high 20s on Sydney Harbour, and the sea mist outside indicated a mild day too. No, it was more about rig for water, and the spectator boats throwing wake back at andoo Comanche certainly earned a stern request from John Winning Jnr to ‘get out of the way’. Helming a big girl is hard enough, without disturbed water over the rudder.

So as dusk became dinner time, and the fairy lights began to glow in the porch and over the trees, the thinking was, ‘Is a 6nm lead enough, six hours into the race? Is 21nm in front of record pace going to account for the transitions?’ Incidentally, that position is back around where the 60-somethings and newest squaws of the TPs are hovering. Little wonder you won’t get too much money on offer trying to bet outside of that group…

You’re out wide, about 10 or so degrees more so than the R/P pencils, and pulling similar speeds. Your other fat bottomed girl (thank you Queen) is there with you, which is comforting, and you’re certainly adhering to the ‘Out early. In late!’ mantra of the Hobart, but there’s a ‘but…’ to be heard.

So as I write this, there is some 520 nautical miles to go, and some 26 hours to do it in. It’s an average of 20 knots, so you don’t have to reach for a calculator. Now you might get to do that down the Tasmanian coast. Might. Not sure about the area abeam of Flinders Island right now, and as for the River Derwent in the last light of the day? Love to be proven wrong.

Brings us back to dinner then, doesn’t it. Could be chicken rolls, so no one has to fire up the burner and make reconstituted something or other. Lollies could be getting scarce, chocolate bars too. Plenty of water is essential, and yes, you will have to face the complete annoyance that is the undrink, too. You see, an alert crew looks after sails, rigging, the boat, and the crew, and if you’re even going to be in with a chance every little bit now will help. The unknown is just that.

Pat the Navigator on the back, look after the Sailing Master, bless the owner, grab a nap when and how you can (most likely on the rail off watch), so that the decision-making is top notch. Even more so if you are a driver on board…

Massive shout out to Sam Haynes and Celestial, which lead the overall standings presently. They sailed the keel off the boat last time before being rubbed out. May it all go their way in 2022. Would be good…

James Murchison and James Francis sailing two-handed on Avalanche, the Hick 40 hull under a Farr 40 deck was the first retirement with a broken prodder, and she is now back in port. Another member of the Two-handed fleet has also just retired. Yeah Baby has retired with rudder damage and returning to Sydney with an ETA of after midnight. The Akilaria Rc2 is owned by the twin brothers, Louis and Marc Ryckmans

Maybe have another read of just who's won if you have not done so already...

Stay safe, thanks for tuning into Sail-World.com, and all the best for 2023.

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