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InfoTrack on Course for Sydney Hobart Race

9th December 2020
Christian Beck's InfoTrack was all-class in Tuesday's showcase Sydney Harbour race Christian Beck's InfoTrack was all-class in Tuesday's showcase Sydney Harbour race Credit: Andrea Francolini

InfoTrack owner Christian Beck and his crew continue to firm as the ones to beat for line honours in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race after they produced a near-perfect performance to win the 2020 Grinders Coffee SOLAS Big Boat Challenge last Tuesday in Australia.

Just don’t try telling InfoTrack’s Tony Mutter that. He will flatly reject the notion.

InfoTrack was first across the line in 52 minutes, 35 seconds. In second place was Peter Harburg’s Black Jack from Monaco in 53 minutes, 29 seconds. Third was the David Griffith-owned Whisper in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 59 seconds, while fourth was Sean Langman’s Moneypenny in 1 hour, 7 minutes, 22 seconds.

Moneypenny twice had issues with their spinnaker allowing the smaller Whisper to sail through her on the second lap of the course.

But asked if the win and their win in last weekend’s Cabbage Tree Island Race had a bearing on their Rolex Sydney Hobart odds, InfoTrack’s Mutter said: “We obviously like where we have been going so far.

“But no, the answer is no. We know that we have an incredible competitor in Peter [Harburg] and Mark [Bradford, Black Jack skipper]. We think it is going to be a real hard ask for us to beat them to Hobart. It is going to be one hell of a match race.”

Pressed on his crew’s confidence for the Rolex Sydney Hobart after the win, Mutter said: “It’s a great feeling for the team. It reinforces all the hard work that the guys have been doing. But we can’t let it go to our heads. Their team is an immaculately prepared team and we are somewhat different. We just don’t have the resources to emulate that.

“We have enough stuff to be able to compete with these guys. If we get the right conditions, we are in with a chance. We are just hoping we get at least a dead even wind speed. As you saw out there today, we had a fantastic race; and we had a fantastic race at Cabbage Tree with these guys within sight of one another which is always good. We’re looking forward to the battle.”

Asked about Mutter’s view that Black Jack is better resourced, Bradford replied: “What both boats are running off the back of is, last year was a really, really competitive Hobart. I think both boats were prepared to a reasonably high level last year, and with this COVID thing, it was [about] digging back into the boat and getting out of the mothballs.

“The timing of that probably shows up in the appearance of it,” he continued. “They have a pretty well-resourced team. We have a huge amount of respect for them. So, I would say no … I don’t agree with that.”

While Tuesday’s Sydney Harbour race only had four entries, what it lacked in numbers it made up in excitement. InfoTrack and Black Jack were the only super maxis in the race to line up against two smaller boats, the JV62 Whisper and the Reichel/Pugh 69 Moneypenny.

David Griffith's Whisper flew home for the IRC handicap honoursDavid Griffith's Whisper flew home for the IRC handicap honours. Credit: Andrea Francolini

The race started at 12.30pm in sunny conditions in a 12-15 knot southerly wind that increased to 15-20 knots. Black Jack jumped to an early lead over InfoTrack, the two super maxis quickly distancing the two smaller boats of which Moneypenny was the quicker of the two.

Black Jack held the lead racing downwind in a brilliant display of champagne sailing to the first mark at Manly. However, InfoTrack remained doggedly in touch and soon after the mark moved into first place. Heading upwind towards the city skyline, InfoTrack consolidated her lead, then extended it turning the second mark at Shark Island and over a second lap to the Manly mark and back to Shark Island and the run to the finish near the Opera House.

For the InfoTrack crew it was the ideal sign-off on preparation for the Rolex Sydney Hobart that included an impressive line honours and overall win in the Cabbage Tree Island Race last weekend.

InfoTrack, a wide berthed 100-footer suited for heavy conditions, won line, IRC and PHS honours – but in lighter winds. Beck’s super maxi’s latest victory today was equally as impressive considering the conditions should have suited the lighter and skinnier Black Jack much better than his boat.

All the InfoTrack crew needs do now is stay healthy, happy and importantly hungry to make best of the opportunity that awaits them in the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart starting on Boxing Day. If they don’t, they know very well that their rivals on Black Jack will be ready to pounce and win.

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)

©Afloat 2020

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