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Hot News From Tasmania - Ichi Ban Wins Hobart Race For Matt Allen & Gordon Maguire

31st December 2021
Ichi Ban making knots in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race as she approaches the final stage in to the Hobart finish
Ichi Ban making knots in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race as she approaches the final stage in to the Hobart finish Credit: Salty Dingo

Matt Allen’s Botin/TP 52 Ichi Ban, with Gordon Maguire of Howth as Sailing Master and a crew including Sean O’Rourke and Dublin-born Noel Drennan, has received the benefit of a remarkable reversal of fortune in the current Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, with her apparent loss of overall first place by three minutes to Sam Haynes’ lower-rated TP 52 Celestial being reversed by the Race Committee following Protest Committee findings on a situation which involved Celestial being out of VHF contact for 90 minutes.

The Federal Transport Authorities take safety very seriously in Australian offshore racing, following the six deaths in the storm-tossed 1998 Sydney-Hobart Race. Thus while youth offshore is often encouraged elsewhere, in Australia you have to be at least 18 years old to take part in a major offshore race. And continuous VHF watch is mandatory, mainly in order to prevent unnecessary SAR moblisation when a PLB alarm is accidentally activated.

Thus when Celestial proved to be uncontactable when this happened, it had inevitable after-effects. When Ichi Ban was made aware that the relatively close Celestial appeared to be having difficulty, she diverted for a few minutes, and has consequently been compensated by three minutes by the Committee.

But more severely, Celestial herself has been penalised by 40 minutes, which pushes her completely out of contention and leaves Ichi Ban as overall winner unless Sean Kearns little S & S 34 Azzuro can sail the final 30 miles to Hobart through the calm of the night at a freakish speed.

For Celestial’s crew, it’s a cruel outcome. Yet there’s no denying that Ichi Ban lost time by going out of her way to see if help was needed, and to alert them to their contact failure. And in fact, in looking at the demeanour of Celestial’s crew in Hobart after the finish, with the Protest Meeting in the formal board-room of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania looming on their personal horizon, you sense they knew they were in trouble.

Part of the trouble is that the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race is such a high profile event, because it is in the middle of the Christmas/New Year holidays and maximum attention. Following on from that, the slightest perceived cutting of any slack in the very stringent safety requirements by the race authorities is simply not something to be contemplated at all.

Read the protest and decision here

Published in Sydney to Hobart
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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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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