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Ryujin leads on line honours in 2023 Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race

by Jane Austin/ORCV media 27 Dec 2023 20:07 PST 27 December 2023
Ryujin starting the Melbourne to Hobart race © Michael Currie

Ryujin, the Sayer 12 skippered by Alex Toomey and racing fully crewed in this year’s race, is leading the race on line honours and is in fine shape on the second day of sailing in the 2023 Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race.

Toomey, from the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, would be delighted with his crew’s performance with the boat more than delivering on their race plan which was to hang onto the leaders and then stretch their legs in the run along the South Coast of Tasmania before heading northeast to Storm Bay.

Handicap favourite Ginan, co-skippered by best mates Nigel Jones and Cam McKenzie from the Mornington Yacht Club, is currently six nautical miles behind Ryujin in second place.

Ginan is certainly one boat to watch as the race unfolds over the next 24 to 36 hours with the very experienced crew looking to better last year’s second place on AMS handicap and get their hands on the prestigious Heemskerk Perpetual trophy which will go to the handicap winner on AMS.

Andrew Neeson’s Runnalls 39, Jaffa from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club is in third place on line honours only one nautical mile behind Ginan.

Vertigo, skippered by father-daughter combination Tim and Clare Olding from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria is leading the race on AMS handicap. At 23 years of age, Clare is the youngest skipper in the race. Winner of the Rookie Skipper award in the 50th anniversary race, Clare has experience beyond her years, skippering Vertigo twice in the Australian Women’s Keelboat regatta in which she finished third this year.

The Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race is one of the world’s great ocean races providing fierce competition against a backdrop of extraordinary scenery and abundant sea life.

The race attracts and encourages short-handed crews.

Rod Smallman and Leeton Hulley from the Sandringham Yacht Club are co-skippers of Maverick, a Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600. The boat is perfectly designed for short-handed offshore racing with twin rudders, a lead bulbed keel and with the construction designed to maximise the power-to-weight ratio. She is currently leading the double-handed division.

Rod Smallman has sailed the race five times, three times in the double-handed division, but this is the first time he has sailed the Melbourne to Hobart Yacht double-handed with Hulley.

The skippers talked with ORCV media from the water today and are feeling pretty good about their race so far.

“We had pretty good conditions over night. We stayed to the west more than the rest of the fleet and we are now enjoying them tacking back in behind us.

“With any luck the wind will turn more westerly very soon and we won’t have to tack.

“We are just about past King Island which is awesome and puts us ahead of schedule.

“We look like being off the [West] Coast tonight. We just have to negotiate a potential light patch on the north western end of Tasmania,” said Smallman.

Co-skipper Hulley is relaxed and looking forward to the heavier conditions which are likely to come tonight and into Friday.

“We are one of the smallest boats in the fleet.

“No one has had a serious break away which leaves us right in the thick of it.

“We are hoping to get down south soon where it gets a bit more intense which will play into our hands,” said Hulley.

The team is currently enjoying ham and cheese salad sandwiches and pot noodles to ensure they keep their strength up for what will be harder sailing in coming days.

Maverick is racing against the J133 design, Joker x2, in the double-handed division while third entrant Alex Team Macadie retired just before the start of the race.

The winds are forecast to pick up on Friday evening which will provide more challenging conditions for the crews with strong west to south westerly winds of 30 knots, gusting to 40 knots.

While it is still too early to call, line honours contenders are expected to arrive in Hobart late Friday or in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The fleet is carrying trackers enabling race followers to track the action from start to finish. To follow the fleet, go to the website

The monohull race record of 1 day 17 hours 28 minutes 59 seconds was set by Shortwave in 2008, winning the race with an average speed over the course of 10.49 knots.

The race is run with the cooperation of the Derwent Sailing Squadron.

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