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Displaying items by tag: Sydney Hobart

Without doubt, the 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race delivered on the event’s formidable reputation. It was a race of two decidedly different halves. The first was a punishing test of physical endurance and perseverance. The second questioned mental resilience and tactical judgment. Organised since 1945 by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, with the support of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, the race has been partnered by Rolex since 2002.



The lead up to the 2021 race was overshadowed by the prospect of a brutal first 24 to 48 hours of strong southerly wind combining with opposing current to build a threatening sea state. The exacting conditions probed for weakness in equipment and mindset. Despite all the intense and detailed preparation within the 88-boat fleet, so unrelenting was the scrutiny that over a third would be forced to retire.

Smuggler off Tasman Island during the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht RaceSmuggler off Tasman Island during the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

For those that made it through, any sense of relief was short-lived with the final stages of the race setting a more cerebral challenge. A shifting weather pattern required crews to piece together a complex three-dimensional on-the-water jigsaw puzzle. When sailing, the shortest course between two points is rarely a straight line. This was never more true than during this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart.

The three 100 foot (30.5 metre) maxis lead the fleet out of Sydney HarbourThe three 100 foot (30.5 metre) maxis lead the fleet out of Sydney Harbour

The overall win on time correction was eventually secured by Matt Allen’s 52 foot (15.85 metre) Ichi Ban. The win had a special Irish dimension to it with Gordon Maguire of Howth as Sailing Master and Sean O’Rourke and Dublin-born Noel Drennan.

Previously winners in 2017 and 2019, the Australian crew joined two other yachts within the legend of the race to achieve three victories and is the first, since Freya in the 1960s, to lift the Tattersall Cup in back-to-back races. According to the winning owner, Matt Allen:

“It is amazing to be part of the history and fabric of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.”

With 31 races under his belt, the first back in 1980 aged 17, Allen has plenty of experience to draw upon. He felt this edition had provided a full and extensive examination of seamanship:

“Most races to Hobart do test the entire boat and crew, but I think this year’s probably more than ever. The wave conditions we saw through the first 24 hours really caused big issues for the boats. Then to have that very complicated tactical situation for the rest of the race really [meant] decision-making was absolutely critical.”

Tasman Island is the southernmost point on the 628nm courseTasman Island is the southernmost point on the 628nm course

The contest to be first to finish was no less enthralling, with three 100ft (30.5m) maxis dogfighting virtually the length of the 628 nautical mile racecourse. SHK Scallywag 100 led out of the harbour, but a sail-handling issue let her rivals slip past. LawConnect then traded the lead with Black Jack, until Peter Harburg’s Monegasque flagged and Australian-crewed entry acted decisively in the light winds to build an advantage that survived a nail-biting drift up the Derwent River to Hobart.

Matt Allen (L), owner of the overall winning yacht Ichi Ban, and Benoit Falletti (R), Rolex AustraliaMatt Allen (L), owner of the overall winning yacht Ichi Ban, and Benoit Falletti (R), Rolex Australia

Published in Sydney to Hobart
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Moneypenny, Blink and Mako are early casualties of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht race this evening, a strong southerly of up to 30 knots on a heavy seaway has taken its toll in the opening hours of the race.

All on board the three yachts are well and the teams are returning to Sydney, leaving 85 boats racing.

Sean Langman’s Moneypenny, a Reichel/Pugh 69, suffered a broken forestay. She was an overall contender for the Tattersall Cup and was nicely placed in 10th on the water, so Langman and the crew will be hugely disappointed.

Blink, owned by Mark Gorbatov and Mark Siebert, retired with a torn main. She was one of seven competitive Beneteau 40s in the fleet. Mako, a Sydney 40 owned by a syndicate from Newcastle and skippered by Tim Dodds, is yet to advise their reason for retiring.

CYCA Rear Commodore Bradshaw Kellett, the navigator on Christian Beck’s line honours leader, LawConnect, described the conditions that led to the retirements. “It’s pretty miserable out here. It’s horrible. I’m hiding in the hatch putting on my wet weather jacket. You can’t see,” he said from south-east of Kiama at around 1820hrs.

“We’re about 3 nautical miles ahead of Black Jack (owned by Peter Harburg and skippered by Mark Bradford). They’re heading inshore for the first time. Scallywag (owned by Seng Huang Lee and skippered by David Witt) is catching us up a bit.

“Offshore is our route of choice, so we’re heading out there now. It’s lumpy – a 3-metre seaway, swell running one way - sea another. We’re currently in the process of slowing down a bit. We’re in 28 to 30 knots. We were doing 13.5 knots but slowed to 8 knots. Big waves. It's seasick weather for those who are prone.

“Tony Mutter is at the helm. All the professionals are on deck,” Kellett said.

The Sydney yachtsman told how they were buried at the start of the 628 nautical mile race. “We couldn’t accelerate, but it wasn’t too bad. Once we got out of the Heads, we were OK and in clear air.

“While we are uncomfortable at the moment, we are happy with our progress. We just have to get through these next few hours,” he ended.

Race tracker here

Published in Sydney to Hobart
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As the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet settles into its first night at sea after the start, don't be surprised if some of the smaller boats like White Bay 6 Azzurro are well in the frame.

Based on Monday's long-range weather forecast for the race that starts at 1 pm on St. Stephen's Day, predictions set up a tight race with a forecast for early southerlies, possible rain and thunderstorms, a high-pressure ridge on days one, two or three that could see winds turn easterly, and numerous transitions.

The 100-footers should still lead, but their margin may not be as great as usual. The smaller boats like Shane Kearns' White Bay 6 Azzurro might be able to use the shifting conditions, minimise their losses, and set up their bids to win the Tattersall Cup.

Kearns' S&S 34-footer, built-in 1981, has been a regular overall challenger in recent years. However, there are other yachts in the 2021 fleet that fall into the same frame. These include Simon Kurts' S&S 47, Love & War, and Bruce Taylor's Caprice 40 Chutzpah.

Still, there is something about White Bay 6 Azzurro, registered with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, which indicates this may be her standout year.

After first being sailed by Kearns in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart to 33rd overall, she has continued to rise as a threat. In 2015 as Quikpoint Azzurro, she almost took the overall victory from Balance.

Published in Sydney to Hobart
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The stage is set for the return of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, with a fleet of 112 boats confirmed for the 2021 edition of the prestigious race. There's Irish interest too in the race as hopes are raised COVID entry restrictions to Australia will be lifted in time for the St. Stephen's Day race.

Afloat is aware of several crews lining up for duty in the 628-miler despite the fact Australia's borders are currently closed to everyone except citizens.

Among the hot entries is Matt Allen's Botin 52 Ichi Ban, (with regular sailing master Gordon Maguire, originally of Howth Yacht Club on board), the 2017 and 2019 winner of the Tattersall Cup, which honours the overall winner on handicap.

Three super maxis are tipped to battle for the John H Illingworth Challenge Cup as line honours winner, with Peter Harburg's RP100 Black Jack, Seng Huang Lee's Dovell 100 SHK Scallywag and Christian Beck's Juan-K 100 which will soon be rebranded (formerly Infotrack and winner of line honours in 2016 as Perpetual Loyal) part of the line-up.

The introduction of shorthanded racing for the 2021 race has proved popular as 24 crews of two look to be crowned as the inaugural winner of the Two-Handed Division.

Published in Sydney to Hobart
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Excitement is building for the return of the historic Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, with entries now open for the 77th edition of ocean racing’s ‘Everest’.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) has launched the Notice of Race and is now welcoming eligible crews from across Australia and abroad to secure their place in the fleet.

The eyes of the world will once again turn to Sydney Harbour on Sunday 26 December.

Following the disappointing cancellation of the 2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CYCA Commodore Noel Cornish AM is looking forward to the Great Race.

“It is my great pleasure to announce the 2021 Notice of Race as the first step in our build-up to the 77th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race,” said Commodore Cornish.

“It is our hope that the Great Race will once again bring together a large group of dedicated and passionate sailors from across Australia and around the world.

“We look forward to working with our many long-term partners to bring the race to life this year and extend special thanks to our close friends at Rolex and The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania in particular for their extraordinary contributions.

“Thank you to everyone who supported the CYCA during 2020.”

The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was first conducted from the CYCA in Rushcutters Bay in 1945 and has become an icon of summer sport in Australia.

The CYCA has enjoyed a rich partnership with naming rights sponsor Rolex since 2002 and is pleased to again be supported by the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer.

For the first time in its history, the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart will feature two-handed crews. The increasingly popular division joined the CYCA’s sailing calendar in 2019 and was due to be included in the 2020 Race.

The Notice of Race and online entry are now available, and entries will remain open until Thursday 29 October.

Published in Sydney to Hobart
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While the 2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has unfortunately been cancelled, sailors and fans alike can still take part in the Great Race through Virtual Regatta.

The Official Game of the Rolex Sydney Hobart is forging on which means you can take on the epic journey from the comfort of your own home. Virtual Regatta is an engaging, online sailing simulation game which replicates the 628-nautical-mile racecourse in real-time, experiencing current weather and sea conditions.

Last year, the 2019 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Virtual Regatta attracted more than 41,000 competitors playing across PC, Mac or from their mobile device via the app.

This year, the highest-placed 2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race competitor will win a wonderful prize pack including an RSHYR20 Sardinia BR1 Jacket, Race Map tee and Fast Dry Brim Hat worth over $460. Additionally, the highest placed Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Member will receive a great prize pack of an RSHYR20 Corsica Microfleece, Boat Map Tee and Fast Dry Crew Cap worth over $260 (view prizes here).

Getting involved is easy, simply head to virtualregatta.com or your favourite app store, sign up for free, then set up your boat and select your sails.

The race commences 1300hrs Saturday 26 December – see you on the start line!

The successful partnership between Virtual Regatta and the CYCA has made the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race increasingly popular with the online sailing community as well as making it more accessible for the public to join the fun.

Published in Sydney to Hobart
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The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has announced its 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will not be proceeding in 2020.

The impact of COVID-19 that has disrupted sporting events around the globe for so much of the year has added the Great Race to its list.

CYCA Commodore, Noel Cornish AM said, “We are bitterly disappointed to cancel the Race this year especially considering the plans and preparations we had put in place to have a COVID Safe race”.

“We were so well prepared to run the race and we’re only six days from the start. This is the first time in 76 years that the race will not be conducted”.

The primary consideration for the Club continues to be the safety of competitors, Members and staff along with the health and welfare of the people of NSW and Tasmania.

Following the announcement by the Tasmanian Premier, Peter Gutwein, this afternoon, it is now impracticable for the CYCA to conduct the Race under prevailing COVID-19 restrictions.

Yesterday, the Northern Beaches local government area of Sydney had been classified a “High Risk” zone which would prevent any residents from travelling to Tasmania. This afternoon, Greater Sydney was defined as “Medium Risk” whereby people entering Tasmania from Sydney are required to quarantine for fourteen days on arrival. As this restriction would apply to all competitors, families, race management and staff, it is unrealistic to proceed further with planning for the Race.

It is unlikely the restrictions and advice will lift in the immediate future. As such the immense logistics involved in reorganising and running a significant sporting event such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, as well as the planning and preparation required by crews, precludes the Club from postponing the race.

Alternative races had been carefully considered by the Club. However, in line with the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s request that all NSW residents limit their non-essential travel and interactions with others, it was felt that there were no other options that would allow for a COVID Safe replacement race.

“On behalf of the CYCA, I’d like to express my gratitude to our Competitors, Members, Volunteers, The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, New South Wales & Tasmanian Governments, and other stakeholders for the very close working relationships we’ve developed through the year to make the race a possibility”.

“A special thank you to our partner Rolex for their support of the race and our Club”.

“This race has a long and proud history and we look forward to continuing this exciting tradition next year”.

On behalf of the CYCA, I’d like to express my gratitude to our Competitors, Members, Volunteers, RYCT, the NSW & Tasmania governments, and other stakeholders for the very close working relationships we’ve developed through the year to make the race a possibility.

Published in Sydney to Hobart
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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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Ever wonder how much work goes into preparing a yacht for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – never mind a big boat that has just returned from Europe amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

Peter Harburg had not planned on Black Jack’s return to Australia when he put the 100-foot supermaxi on a ship bound for her new home in Monaco, but COVID-19 arrived, with Europe hit extremely hard.

Harburg’s skipper Mark Bradford says, “We weren’t planning on coming back to do the race. We thought last year was to be the last one."

However, just after the ship left Australia, the virus struck.

“We had a squad of five ready to go to Europe to take care of the boat. But then the virus risk increased, so got we got a team to unload it and put it on a ship back to Australia.

"It’s a bonus we got to come back and have another go.”

On readying the yacht to race, Bradford explained, “Loads and engineering are such a big part of preparing - you have to go through it all again; you have to be as safe as you can; you need to understand loads and that takes a long time because it involves a lot of different equipment that can break if you don’t get it right.

Black Jack leads Comanche as they close in on the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart finish lineBlack Jack leads Comanche as they close in on the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart finish line. Mandatory photo credit: ROLEX/Studio Borlenghi

“You also have to learn the changes that have been made to the boat. The bow modification was pretty significant. You have to keep up with the others - Wild Oats XI got better and better - so you learn how to sail the boat again. The fortunate thing is that last Christmas the level we prepared to was pretty high.”

Bradford concedes they are also missing some of their key crew. “Of the Kiwi guys who usually sail with us, Scott Beavis was the only one who could join us.”

The replacements include America’s Cup-winning Olympic gold medallist and world champion sailor, Tom Slingsby. Slingsby was in the afterguard of Perpetual LOYAL (now Christian Beck’s InfoTrack) when it took line honours and broke the race record in 2016.

And if the conditions are right, Black Jack, which took line honours as Alfa Romeo in 2009, could make it a second victory in a year where there is just one other super maxi entered: InfoTrack.

The two boats haven’t much in common. Black Jack is a 2005 Reichel/Pugh design, while InfoTrack was built in 2008 and comes from the drawing board of Juan Kouyoumdjian. Regular updates keep the boats fast and interesting.

“Black Jack is still the boat to beat in lighter wind. Our big advantage is in eight knots. Theirs (InfoTrack) is 20 plus knots,” Bradford said of the boat that bears both Monaco and Queensland on its transom to reflect Harburg’s homes. It is based at Sydney City Marine as it awaits the 628 nautical mile race to Hobart.

“We kicked off training yesterday; the start of two weeks of pretty solid sailing. Racing-wise we’re doing the Cabbage Tree Island Race (Friday 4 December), Big Boat Challenge (Tuesday 8 December) and CYCA Trophy Race (Saturday 12 December).

The two ‘supers’ will have slightly smaller but fast yachts keeping them honest: Thunderstruck, the Botin 80 formerly known as Beau Geste (owned by AUS 80 Pty Ltd and led by Grant Wharington) and Jim Cooney’s Volvo Open 70 Maserati.

“For sure those two could take line honours, but it would probably take some break downs on the 100s, or if it’s a traditional race (hard upwind), but the stars would need to align.”

Bradford admits that if it blew 25 knots the VO70 should be able to do it. “But then the risks go up in that breeze too. You can’t discount them though.” Giacomo (a VOR 70) finished second over the line to Perpetual LOYAL in 2016 when the record went, so it can happen,” he said.

“We’re sailing again with a full crew. We haven’t done it all year, so we’ll have to remember how,” he said with a laugh. “We’ll do more training and we’ll be rusty for sure, but it’s pretty much standard procedure. In 2005 we had no idea how to sail these types of boats, but we’ve had the best part of 15 years’ experience now.

“I’ve been pretty vocal in ‘don’t call the race off until you have to’, and I think it is the right path. It’s great for us, but more so for the event’s history. And it brings money into the marine industry – so I’m happy about that because it’s been tough for so many.

“Right now, I’m just happy to see there will be a good fleet on the start line.

“It’s disappointing not having Wild Oats XI in the race, but I understand the reasons why. We’ll miss the competition. And for Scallywag to get the owner and entourage in from Hong Kong makes it very hard. It’ll be quite different with just two 100s. The two have been close for a long time though, so it’ll still be a great race. InfoTrack’s just got better and better.”

Published in Sydney to Hobart
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While this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart has been given the go-ahead after lengthy consultation, at least two big names won’t be joining the 100-strong fleet next month.

Sailing Anarchy reports that the legendary 100-footer Wild Oats XI will remain in storage for the start on 26 December — the first time in 16 years that the Reichel-Pugh won’t compete in the annual blue water classic.

And Wild Oats’s arch rival Scallywag has withdrawn from the race, reportedly because owner Sen Huang Lee and a number of crew were unwilling to meet the mandatory two-week quarantine for all racers entering Australia from abroad.

With these two giants of the race now out of the picture — leaving only two 100-footers, Black Jack and InfoTrack in contention — could this spell the end of the dominance of the supermaxis? Sailing Anarchy has more on the story HERE.

Published in Sydney to Hobart
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