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Rolex Sydney Hobart: Four boats still racing - reflections on Toecutter's debut

by Di Pearson/RSHYR Media 31 Dec 2023 14:09 PST 1 January 2024

This morning four yachts remain at sea in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: Jason Bond's Beneteau First 47.7 Enigma (NSW) and Kiwi husband and wife, Michael and Tracey Carter on Allegresse, both due to finish today.

Allegresse took shelter in the harsh conditions, as did others. Mike Carter reported at 8.05am this morning, "We've had a reasonable breeze, a 10-12 knot north-westerly overnight that dropped to 5-6 knots this morning. We're 35 nautical miles from Tasman Island.

"We're still talking to each other, but we've had our moments," Carter said laughing.

"The night before and yesterday morning we didn't go far at all! The hardest part was a couple of nights of heavy weather and with two people on the boat it's not so easy. Then going through zones without reliable information is a bit of a lottery. Fortunately, we brought enough food for a week with us.

"We should be in today, but the forecast isn't looking too good, especially in the Derwent..."

There are two others who will not be in today. David Hows Silver Fern still has 104nm to sail. And the two-handed crew of Bob Williams and Chris Warren, along with Williams' now famous Oli the cat on Sylph VI, were 52nm east of Eddystone Point at 8.15am, with 201nm between them and the finish line.

Williams and Oli have a large following and are sure to get a rousing welcome in Hobart when they do arrive.

In the meantime, John Townley's Hansen Tasmania was the last arrival into Hobart last night, crossing the finish line just after 11.45pm, in time to welcome in the New Year.

Aboard were Townley's two sons, Max and Matthew, the latter the youngest of five 18-year-olds in the race. A second father and son, Sam and Archer Ibbott, were also aboard. The crowds in Hobart lining Kings Pier welcomed the crew home.

In Hobart, Robert Hick, owner/designer and builder of the new 10 metre Hick 10, Toecutter, reflected on his first Sydney Hobart with the new yacht and just their second race.

Hick, from Victoria, is renowned for designing and building small boats. His most famous was the Hick 30, AFR Midnight Rambler, winner of the fatal 1998 Sydney Hobart.

Sharing ownership of this latest Toecutter with Brad Bult, the two told how they warmed up in the Melbourne to Devonport Race in November.

"I'm very happy with the boat. It was a labour of love designing and building her. It took 18 months to build."

The Victorian explained his penchants for boats that are on the small side: "Small boats are affordable and they're manageable. The crew doesn't change. I've sailed with Paul Cannon for 42 years and Brad and I have been sailing together for 30 years.

"We have fun. I've sailed 50 footers and that's no fun."

The only bit of the race that was not fun for Hick, who has crossed off his 18th Hobart, was dropping off crew member, Tom Klestadt, in Batemans Bay on the NSW south coast, after he became ill.

Hick said of the race, "It wasn't one for a light 30 footer. We got here in one piece though, getting around Tasman Island in 40 knots. So I feel comfortable with the boat. We built the mast and all. I'd look up at it during the race and I convinced myself it would all be OK - and it was."

And while others dined out of freeze dried food, that was not for Hick and four crew. "We've got a microwave, so we had real food like pasta and fried rice.

"All in all we had a pretty good race and yes, before you ask, we'll be back next year," Hick ended.

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

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