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RStGYC 'Primitive Cool' Sailor Finishes Fourth in Class in Sydney-Hobart Race

9th January 2014
RStGYC 'Primitive Cool' Sailor Finishes Fourth in Class in Sydney-Hobart Race

#rshyr – Royal St George Yacht Club offshore sailor Jerry Collins is no stranger to offshore racing having participated in four Fastnet races, two of which were on Sigma 38, Persistance. The Dubliner has also completed five Round Ireland Races, and is a three times Class winner in the Sigma Class on Persistance in 2008, 2010 and 2012 so it was easy to see why – having retired from the race in 2012 – the call of Australia's Sydney-Hobart race was hard to refuse this Christmas. Here Collin's describes the race onboard the Farr 40 Primitive Cool

In 2012 our RI bowman was Australian Matt Fahey (whose father is former Prime Minister of New South Wales and presently Chairman of the International Drugs in Sport Monitoring Body). Matt's grandparents were from Galway. Matt then invited me to do the 2012 Sydney Hobart on a Farr 40 which he was skippering/managing in Melbourne for the owner, John Newbold.
I did the Sydney Hobart in 2012 on the Farr 40, named Primitive Cool, as helm and navigator.

Three days into the race, having led our class by 14 miles at one stage, we suffered significant rig damage and were obliged to retire from the race and motor sail back to Eden , lest we lose the mast and rig and as the owner John Newbold was not on board, retiring was deemed the prudent, if unpalatable decision to make.

By the time 2013 rolled around it was decided to do the race again...we just had to finish what we had started !

Just 2 months before the race start on Stephens Day, John Newbold made the very bold decision to replace the Farr 40 with the new 'Primitive Cool', namely the old 'Secret Mens Business', a Reichal Pugh 51.

So, Primitive Cool, now with a crew of 15, 11 Aussies, 2 Brits, 1 Norwegian and 1 Paddy (myself), started the race with the primary objective of finishing the race this time, in view of last year's retirement.

It was clear in the first few hours, even in 5-10 knots of breeze that we would be competitive in our class and perhaps even overall. The first 24 hours was more or less a beat in 5-10/15 knots. The second day was mostly a reach in increasing wind strengths of up to 25 plus knots.( They say in Australia that they do not take down spinnakers until God actually takes them down and then they just put up a smaller one!)


Jerry Collins in Hobart

The last (3rd day) 24 hours was very much a beat in gale/storm force winds averaging 37/38 knots and gusting up to 58 knots. These conditions did not come as a surprise to us as they had been predicted very accurately by the Australian BOM (Bureau of Meteorology )in the days before the race start, to come in from S/SW as we beat down the Tasmanian coast.
In view of the horrendous conditions prevailing over the last 12 hours, Primitive Cool sailed in the lee of Tasmania to seek some degree of shelter. At the end of the day this however cost us 2/3 hours at a crucial time which may have prevented us from attaining a podium place by a relatively small margin, after 3 days plus of hard boot to the floor racing.

Ultimately Primitive Cool finished 4th on IRC in Class 1 (21 boats in class) and 15th overall ( 94 boats starting)...a great result in all the circumstances particularly when we were competing against mostly much much larger, faster boats crewed for the most part by full professional crews.

Now, if only we could transport Primitive Cool to Wicklow for the Round Ireland next June!

Published in Sydney to Hobart Team

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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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