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Irish Yacht Derry–Londonderry Takes Sydney–Hobart Clipper Win

29th December 2013
Irish Yacht Derry–Londonderry Takes Sydney–Hobart Clipper Win

#rshyr – A dream came true for Lough Swilly skipper Sean McCarter (31) at 1916 hrs this evening (Sunday December 29th) when he skippered the Irish Clipper 70 Derry-Londonderry-Doire across the elusive finish line at Hobart in Tasmania to win his class in the 628-mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Race writes W M Nixon

Although the Derry boat and Sean's crew (in which Garda Conor O'Byrne of Balrothery, Co Dublin is a Watchleader) had a lead of 17 miles over the next boat at the finish, the final stages up the Derwent Estuary to the line of the Hobart waterfront as the dawn came up were tense in the extreme. Their speed fluctuated between 2 and 8 knots in the flukey night winds, and they'd nightmares of becoming totally becalmed and then watching the opposition close up with the morning breeze.

To get there in 3 days 16 hours and 42 minutes from Sydney, the crew (of all levels of sailing experience including none at all) had to cope with everything ranging from the hectic start down Sydney Harbour, through frustrating light winds off Australia's southeast coast, and then a rising southwest to west gale as they battered their way across the notorious Bass Strait towards the final hundred miles along the Tasmanian coast and the challenging and wayward approaches to Hobart.

As the gale built, DLDD was neck and neck with Henri Lloyd, until then the boat which had been setting most of the pace in the Clipper series. But a rudder bearing problem aboard HL east of Cape Barren Island led to her eventual retiral from this leg, and Derry Londonderry Doire was left on her own to make the pace, with about ten miles in hand on the next group of boats.

It was a game of cat and mouse, and at one stage they'd opened out the gap to 14 miles, but at other times the tricky headlands and islands of Tasmania saw the pace slacken and the boats astern close up.

For a while nearing the Storm Bay approaches to the Derwent, it looked as if DLDD had it made, as they opened out their lead to nearly twenty miles. But the final miles in the dark were very tricky, "a real nail biter" as McCarter reported - from time to time they seemed to be virtually stopped ,while the boats still out at sea were making full speed. But onward they crawled towards the line, and at 05:42:28 am local time, they were there, the win in the bag, the race sailed in three days 16 hours 42 minutes and 28 seconds, an average of 7.1 knots. And to add a bit of cream on the cake, this remarkable performance has placed them 7th in Division 1 IRC, competing against some of the hottest boats in the fleet.

Published in Sydney to Hobart
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The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is an annual offshore yacht racing event with an increasingly international exposure attracting super maxi yachts and entries from around tne world. It is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, New South Wales on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart, Tasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).

The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - FAQs

The number of Sydney Hobart Yacht Races held by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia since 1945 is 75

6,257 completed the Sydney Hobart Yacht race, 1036 retired or were disqualified)

About 60,061 sailors have competed in the Sydney Hobart Race between 1945 and 2019

Largest fleets: 371 starters in the 50th race in 1994 (309 finished); 154 starters in 1987 (146 finished); 179 starters in 1985 (145 finished); 151 starters in 1984 (46 finished); 173 started in 1983 (128 finished); 159 started in 1981 (143 finished); 147 started in 1979 (142 finished); 157 started in 2019 (154 finished)

116 in 2004 (59 finished); 117 in 2014 (103 finished); 157 in 2019 (154 finished)

Nine starters in the inaugural Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 1945

In 2015 and 2017 there were 27, including the 12 Clipper yachts (11 in 2017). In the record entry of 371 yachts in the 50th in 1994, there were 24 internationals

Rani, Captain John Illingworth RN (UK). Design: Barber 35’ cutter. Line and handicap winner

157 starters, 154 finishers (3 retirements)

IRC Overall: Ichi Ban, a TP52 owned by Matt Allen, NSW. Last year’s line honours winner: Comanche, Verdier Yacht Design and VPLP (FRA) owned by Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant, in 1 day 18 hours, 30 minutes, 24 seconds. Just 1hour 58min 32secs separated the five super maxis at the finish 

1 day 9 hours 15 minutes and 24 seconds, set in 2017 by LDV Comanche after Wild Oats XI was penalised one hour in port/starboard incident for a finish time of 1d 9h 48m 50s

The oldest ever sailor was Syd Fischer (88 years, 2015).

As a baby, Raud O'Brien did his first of some six Sydney Hobarts on his parent's Wraith of Odin (sic). As a veteran at three, Raud broke his arm when he fell off the companionway steps whilst feeding biscuits to the crew on watch Sophie Tasker sailed the 1978 race as a four-year-old on her father’s yacht Siska, which was not an official starter due to not meeting requirements of the CYCA. Sophie raced to Hobart in 1979, 1982 and 1983.

Quite a number of teenage boys and girls have sailed with their fathers and mothers, including Tasmanian Ken Gourlay’s 14-year-old son who sailed on Kismet in 1957. A 12-year-old boy, Travis Foley, sailed in the fatal 1998 race aboard Aspect Computing, which won PHS overall.

In 1978, the Brooker family sailed aboard their yacht Touchwood – parents Doug and Val and their children, Peter (13), Jacqueline (10), Kathryne (8) and Donald (6). Since 1999, the CYCA has set an age limit of 18 for competitors

Jane (‘Jenny’) Tate, from Hobart, sailed with her husband Horrie aboard Active in the 1946 Race, as did Dagmar O’Brien with her husband, Dr Brian (‘Mick’) O’Brien aboard Connella. Unfortunately, Connella was forced to retire in Bass Strait, but Active made it to the finish. The Jane Tate Memorial Trophy is presented each year to the first female skipper to finish the race

In 2019, Bill Barry-Cotter brought Katwinchar, built in 1904, back to the start line. She had competed with a previous owner in 1951. It is believed she is the oldest yacht to compete. According to CYCA life member and historian Alan Campbell, more than 31 yachts built before 1938 have competed in the race, including line honours winners Morna/Kurrewa IV (the same boat, renamed) and Astor, which were built in the 1920s.

Bruce Farr/Farr Yacht Design (NZL/USA) – can claim 20 overall wins from 1976 (with Piccolo) up to and including 2015 (with Balance)

Screw Loose (1979) – LOA 9.2m (30ft); Zeus II (1981) LOA 9.2m

TKlinger, NSW (1978) – LOA 8.23m (27ft)

Wild Oats XI (2012) – LOA 30.48m (100ft). Wild Oats XI had previously held the record in 2005 when she was 30m (98ft)

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