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Henri-Lloyd - For the Obsessed

J/111 wins wild West Coaster Race - Melbourne to Hobart Race!

by J-Boats 9 Jan 13:23 PST
J/111 GINAN - Melbourne to Hobart Race! © Steb Fisher

If the sailors participating in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race thought they had a rough go of it getting around the famous "Organ Pipes" formation on the northeast corner of Tasman Island, then the racers in what is known as "the West Coaster" certainly had it as bad, if not worse.

The Westcoaster, as the race is known, is one of the world's great ocean races, covering 435.0 nm from the start in Port Philip Bay in Melbourne, Australia to the finish line in the River Derwent in Hobart, Tasmania. The race is organized by the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (ORCV), with cooperation from Derwent Sailing Squadron.

The race starts with a 125.0 nm passage across the Bass Strait before the fleet sails 200.0 nm south down the west Coast of Tasmania, past Maatsuyker Island, east to South East Cape then turning left (northeast) towards the more sheltered, but equally challenging waters of Storm Bay and the River Derwent.

This year's fleet had a quick, but intense race to Hobart, battling wind gusts of up to 50 knots, and five to six-meter seas, with close rivalry on the race course. Nevertheless, the overall winner of the event was sailing itself, with exhaustion, smiles, relief, and enormous satisfaction etched on the faces of this close-knit group.

This year, as yachts crossed the start line off Portsea Pier, a thick sea fog rolled in over Point Nepean National Park. After rounding the first mark, visibility was reduced to 100.0m, and crews lost sight of each other. As a result, the navigators had to rely on their GPS chart plotter (hopefully!) to navigate the exit of Port Phillip Heads.

After racing 2.0 days and 15.0 hours, the Edward Henty Perpetual Trophy was awarded to the J/111 GINAN, skippered by Cameron McKenzie and Nigel Jones from the Mornington Yacht Club, for winning the ORC Handicap division. Notably, they also took 2nd overall in the AMS handicap division.

The J/133 JOKER X2 sailed by Grant Chipperfield and Pete Dowdney finished 5th overall in the ORC Handicap Division and, remarkably took 2nd in the ORC Doublehanded Division! Amazing! Two J/133s, two separate races, two remarkable performances in one of the toughest and wildest Sydney Hobart and Melbourne Hobart Races ever in the history of those events!

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