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2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race: Love & War stands test of time 50 years on

by Rupert Guinness/RSHYR Media 30 Dec 2023 20:05 PST 31 December 2023

The sight of the Love & War approaching the finish line of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is always a majestic one and it was extra special this year when the S&S finished the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's annual race.

The arrival of Simon Kurts' Love & War Hobart at Kings Pier in Hobart late on Saturday night was a fitting celebration of her 50 years. It was also a fitting reminder of the yacht's imprint on the 628 nautical mile race.

Love & War was a state-of-the-art boat when built in 1973 for Kurts' father, Peter Kurts, who died in 2005. It is the second of three boats to win the Tattersall Cup three times - in 1974, 1978 with Peter Kurts and 2006 when Simon Kurts loaned the boat to Lindsay May. In 2021, Simon placed third and won division.

Love & War, up there as one of Australia's most famous boats, also represented Australia in the 1975 Admiral's Cup in the UK.

This year's Sydney Hobart was its 19th.

Today, the morning after its finish in pitch black last night, Love & War was a centrepiece of attention and adulation by sailing fans and strolling onlookers as she sat moored under the sun.

As his crew were cleaning the well-kept yacht, Kurts said of the boat's finish and longevity with understated pride: "It's not bad, for a boat of its age to be still racing." However, it is well known he is proud of the beautiful S&S47.

Asked what is so special about Love & War, he said: "Dad just always loved it. And it is a great boat, really. It was well designed, well put together and it's still alive... in good nick."

Kurts described the race as: "A tough race, very, very tough race. She got a good test. She's a very strong," Kurts said.

The adoration Love & War's crew has for the boat was clear. Michael Heenan, who just sailed his 24th Hobart, spoke lovingly of her.

"What a Hobart it was. We had everything out there," Heenan said. "Sometimes you think how can seas be so big and so powerful. And screaming winds. What better boat to be on than Love & War. She was the 'lightweight flyer' in her day. Can you believe that?

"You are slamming.... Bang, bang, bang and she just powers through the waves and you slip off the other side. It just comes down nicely and the water goes up by the side."

Heenan said the boat has also been maintained to perfection.

"To be on this boat after 50 years, you look and think how it was so beautifully built," he said.

Heenan not only praised Love & War's seaworthiness, but comfortability in smooth and rough conditions.

"You're on deck and the waves are pouring over the top, smashing into you; then you go down below and see someone having a cup of tea and feeling so comfortable," he said.

But for Love & War's crew, the moment of crossing the finish line on it is always a standout.

"There's nothing like crossing the line," Heenan mused.

"There's nothing like seeing all the twinkling lights of Hobart, knowing everyone's looking at you, looking forward to seeing you come in."

For the full list of entries and more information about the race, visit rolexsydneyhobart.com.

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