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Victoire for Dr Darryl in a Hobart Classic

30th December 2013
Victoire for Dr Darryl in a Hobart Classic

#rshyr – Around Sydney and the clubhouse of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, he's Dr Darryl, the living breathing embodiment of modern Australia writes WM Nixon. In a country moving on very rapidly from rough blokedom to smooth hyper-affluence, this man is the new world. Even when still a bit wind-blown and battered on the Derwent quayside after a rugged Sydney-Hobart Race, he still looks as though he has been sent out by Central Casting to play the role of a thoughtful plastic surgeon, which just happens to have been the career choice of Dr Darryl Hodginson.

Having made a success of that, he chose to go offshore racing. And he did so to such good effect that in 2011 he was Rookie of the Year. Then in 2012 he was Australia's Offshore Racer of the Year. There's only one peak to climb after that, so for 2013 he went for it. He sold his consistent First 45, and bought Chris Bull's Cookson 50 Jazz with the express purpose of winning the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race within two years.

He bought the boat as a 65th birthday present for himself, telling his wife that it was nor or never for a Hobart win. Re-named Victoire, this beautifully-maintained example of what is indubitably one of the greatest all-round designs of contemporary offshore racing has come up trumps for him at the first shot, winning the famous Tattersall's Cup overall. On IRC, her corrected time of 3 days 18 hours 27 minutes and 43 seconds is a very convincing hour and five minutes ahead of the next best, Phil Simpendorfer's Elliott 44 Veloce.

Victoire is sailed by a crew of mates. "We don't fly in a lot of expensive people" says the Doctor. Key man after the owner-skipper is Sean Kirkjian, ace helm and tactician, and between the determined and visionary owner and the skilled all-round sailor, they trained their crew of weekend sailors into a formidable group who raced this demanding but rewarding boat to success.

Another success of the 2013 Rolex Sydney Harbour Race has surely been the IRC. Beforehand, it seemed a little odd that the vintage Wild Oats XI rated quite a bit higher on IRC than the other top hundred footer, Anthony Bell's Perpetual LOYAL. But although Perpetual showed her dazzling potential with speed bursts of 35 knots once the gale arrived, overall in what were genuinely average summer conditions, the overall performance abilities of Wild Oats were reflected by her IRC number, whereas Perpetual doesn't really sail up to her rating until winds get above 12 to 14 knots.

In any Hobart Race, just as in the Fastnet, boats of a particular size, or rather comparable boats of a similar rating, will tend to be favoured by the actual pattern of conditions experienced. This is demonstrated very forcefully in the Hobart results. Of the first six boats overall, five fall within the 1.250 to 1.381 rating band. The exception is Bruce Taylor's Reichel Pugh-designed Caprice 40 Chutzpah, which took fifth overall on a rating of 1.197, which puts her broadly in the same area, in which Victoire is at the top end with an attractively competitive rating of 1.350.

As for the Irish competitors, with Sean McCarter and Conor O'Byrne's runaway win with Derry-Londonderry-Doire in the Clipper fleet (it was four hours before the next boat finally finished), we've more than enough to b celebrating, but the Royal Irish crew led by Barry Hurley in the First 40 Breakthrough had a good showing to place 6th in Division 3 and 27th overall, putting them comfortably into the top third of the fleet.

The two very new girls on the block, Karl Kwok's 80ft Beau Geste and Matt Allen's 60ft Ichi Ban, will have some thinking to do. The fascination here is that each has been designed by former partners in the now defunct Botin Carkeek design team, with Marcelino Botin creating Beau Geste, while Shaun Carkeek mastered Ichi Ban.

This boat had to follow the all-conquering 63ft Loki, former mount of top helmsman Gordon Maguire. To this casual observer, Ichi Ban looks rather voluminous by comparison with the lean and swift Loki, and positively bulbous by comparison with Wild Oat XI, which carries all the excess flesh of a tinker's greyhound. Could it be that the new Ichi Ban has too much freeboard, too much hull buoyancy? You could understand why Gordon Maguire might be inclined that way, as he was at the helm of the Lawrie Smith-captained maxi Rothmans when she took a spectacular and much-publicised nosedive during a Sydney-Hobart, submarining for quite a long way. And then too, he was at the helm of Lough Derg YC's Jocelyn Waller's BH 41 Silk in Cowes Week when she deep-sixed in the Solent running before a squall above gale force. Nevertheless, you could be forgiven for wondering if all that buoyant hull up forward night be veering on too much of a good thing on Ichi Ban.

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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