Countdown to the Rolex Sydney Hobart begins
The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2010 has attracted an impressive fleet of 99 yachts and an astonishing number of new entrants to the timeless blue water classic.
For the second year running, one third of the fleet will experience their maiden voyage south in what is regarded one of the world’s three pre-eminent ocean races.
“A significant feature this year fleet is that 30% will be first time starters in the great race,” said Commodore Garry Linacre from the host club, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia at today’s official race launch attended by a panel of skippers and crew.
“A mix of international, interstate and local high quality ocean racing yachts attracted to this iconic event is a strong testament to its ‘must do’ appeal.
“It’s a credit to the race also that the likes of Niklas Zennstrom’s JV72 Rán will return to the start line and no less significant to have two of our cornerstone boats, Spirit of Koomooloo and Bacardi, approaching their 25th race milestone,” Linacre added.
At the big end of town the impending match-up between the polished Wild Oats XI and modified Investec Loyal is expected to be the line honours focal point.
Despite their loss to Alfa Romeo last year, the owner of Wild Oats XI, Bob Oatley and skipper Mark Richards only opted for minor over major changes to the boat, instead spending a lot more time on the water honing the crew work.
Meanwhile Sean Langman and Anthony Bell haven’t raced their supermaxi Investec Loyal since last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, instead dry docking and overhauling the Greg Elliott design, including new electrics and North Sails wardrobe to go with the new-fangled paint job.
Langman and Bell have also assembled an all-star cast of both well-known Australian sporting identities and a dream team of Australian sailing talent including crew boss Peter ‘Billy’ Merrington, tactician Michael Coxon, mid bow Morgan White, mastman Will McCarthy and pitman Anthony Nossiter.
Champion boxer Danny Green, Channel Seven’s Larry Emdur and Rugby Union legends Phil Waugh and Phil Kearns have signed on again and joining them this year will be Australian cricketer Matthew Hayden, Olympic swimmer Geoff Huegill and surfing supremo Layne Beachley to complete the crew of 24.
Mark Richards believes that given the right conditions, with their taller rig, larger sail area and crew depth, Investec Loyal “will be a handful”.
As for Investec Loyal spending most of the year out of the water, Richards cites Wild Oats XI’s 2005 result when fresh from their launch they took out the treble, line honours, the overall win and set the current race record of 1 day 18 hours 40 minutes 10 seconds.**** Investec Loyal is due to be re-launched later this week.
There is a logjam of claimants lining up for the coveted Tattersall’s Cup, the trophy for the overall winner of the 628 nautical mile classic which will start at 1pm Boxing Day, 26 December, north of Shark Island on Sydney Harbour.
Chris Bull’s canting keel Cookson 50 Jazz signalled her intention as the boat that might just beat Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 Loki to the Tattersall’s Cup after claiming the IRC handicap win in the CYCA’s Cabbage Tree Island Race over the weekend.
Ray Roberts’ former Evolution Racing was snapped up this year by Bull and underwent a four month long program of refitting, testing and crew training. In the boat’s debut, the Morna Cup, the 50 footer claimed top honours and Saturday’s win has put Jazz in a commanding position in the countdown to the Rolex Sydney Hobart which starts in less than five weeks time.
Bill Wild’s RP55 Rodd & Gunn Wedgetail, the former Yendys, is showing excellent early form at the new owner’s fingertips, finishing second on handicap on Saturday while Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki placed third and is giving the rest of the Blue Water Pointscore Series constituents a shellacking going into the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the most significant of the seven-race series.
Also in the hunt for the overall win will be Niklas Zennstrom who is used to winning both in business and sailing. The Swedish entrepreneur wouldn’t gamble on bringing his champion UK JV72 Rán and its highly credentialed crew all the way back to Sydney for the second year on the trot if he didn’t there was a chance he’ll be standing atop the podium at the finish.
Around 80% of the fleet will be in contention for the Tattersall’s Cup but in the end the final result could be completely irrespective of past form should there be a repeat of last year’s result when the South Australian production boat, Andrew Saies’ Beneteau 40.7 Two True, pulled one out of the bag and won its first attempt.
All Australian states plus the ACT are represented with six international entries sailing for the UK, USA, France and Italy, plus two part Russian crewed boats, Vamp and Obsession.
There are plenty of well-known names on the starter’s list. The doyen of ocean racing, 83 year old Syd Fischer can expect another express ride south for his 42nd race if it becomes a spinnaker drag race between his TP52 Ragamuffin and the other lightweight sleds in the same size range.****
Brindabella, arguably Australia’s best-known and most successful maxi, will once again grace the Rolex Sydney Hobart start line, this time under new owner Jim Cooney’s charge, while the husband and wife team of Jim and Mary Holley, with 35 Rolex Sydney Hobarts between them, have opted to continue what’s become an annual ritual having entered their 40 footer Aurora every year since 1998.
Grant Wharington’s 98 footer Wild Thing will headline a robust Victorian line up including Rob Date’s RP52 Scarlet Runner tackling its first Rolex Sydney Hobart, Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll and Rob Hanna’s JV52 Shogun.
For the 66th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 102 yachts were nominated for entry and 99 are confirmed to start this year’s race at this stage. Applications for entry will continue to be processed by the CYCA sailing office and if all the race entry criteria is met, owners will be invited to submit an entry form by the closing date for paperwork, Friday 3 December.
Last year 116 yachts were nominated for entry with 100 on the starting line and 95 reaching the finish line off Hobart’s historic Battery Point.
The Rolex Sydney Hobart 2010 will start from two start lines at 1pm on Sunday 26 December with the honour of firing the warning signals and start cannon going to the surviving crew members from the 1960 Sydney Hobart overall winner Sianda and second placed Kaleena.
The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be preceded by the Rolex Trophy. Racing for the one design classes, including Farr 40’s and Sydney 38’s will take place off Sydney Heads between 10 – 12 December and the IRC and Performance Handicap boats between 16 and 19 December 2010. The Rolex Trophy Passage Series will take place on 18 and 19 December.
Rolex has been the principal sponsor of the Rolex Sydney Hobart and Rolex Trophy since 2002 and recently renewed its sponsorship of the blue water classic and its associated regattas for a further five years, up to and including the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
To view the Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet go to**** http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/yachts.asp?key=526 <http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/yachts.asp?key=526>
6 DECEMBER 2010
Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet stands strong at 90
Entries for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race have officially closed with 90 skippers completing the entry requirements for the blue water classic that will start in a blaze of colour on Sydney Harbour at 1pm AEDT on Boxing Day.****
International entrants have started to arrive in the country with Niklas Zennstrom’s Judel Vrolijk 72 RÁN the highest profile arrival so far. Her owner and crew will touch down in late December, leaving only a few days to iron out any kinks before the start of the great race south.
Coming with a single minded determination to win the Tattersall’s Cup, the stunning silver trophy awarded to the overall winner, last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart divisional winner and winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race, RÁN will face tough competition from local favourite Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 Loki although at last week’s official race launch, Loki’s helmsman Gordon Maguire warned that the top notch RÁN crew also comes with a warning label.
Not to be discounted are the highly competitive 52 footers including Victorian Robert Date’s RP52 Scarlet Runner and Calm, a TP52 owned by Jason Van Der Slot, Graeme Ainley and John Williams, CYCA member Syd Fischer’s TP52 Ragamuffin and Wot Eva, (formerly raced as Wot Yot, also a TP52) which was officially gifted by Graeme Wood to David Pescud and the Sailors with disABILITIES crew last Friday, marking the International Day of Disabled Persons.
Who will be first to Hobart and claim line honours? With five maxis entered and two measuring in at 30.48metres (100 foot), the maximum length overall, the race will be on to claim the victory champagne, the Illingworth Trophy and the Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece.
Under the guidance of skipper Mark Richards, Wild Oats XI, Bob Oatley’s 100 foot supermaxi, will return to the start line in an attempt to claim a fifth line honours win. The Oats crew will face strong competition from Sean Langman and Anthony Bell’s Investec Loyal and their celebrity crew including seven-time world surfing champion Layne Beachley. Also in the hunt will be two 98 footers: Peter Millard and John Honan’s Lahana and Grant Wharington’s Wild Thing with Ludde Ingvall’s 90ft YuuZoo rounding out the maxi fleet.
Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the organising authority for the race, Garry Linacre said “We are again pleased with the size and competitiveness of the fleet for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart. I, like many others, will watch the line honours battle with great interest and look forward to the moment when the overall race winner is declared.”
All eyes will be on Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day, 26 December 2010, when at 1pm AEDT the historic 19th century replica cannon will be fired to commence the 66th edition of Australia’s best-known blue water classic and one of the nation’s most watched sporting events. Doug Paterson, a crew member of Siandra, the overall winner of the 1960 Hobart race, will have the honour of firing the starting cannon sending the fleet on their 628 nautical mile journey south to the finish line in the Derwent River, Hobart.
Seven Network will broadcast all the harbour action from 12.30pm, with the program being re-broadcast throughout 45 countries in Asia Pacific through Australia Network and webcast on Yahoo!7.
Last year 100 yachts were on the starting line and 95 reached the finish line off Hobart’s historic Battery Point.
All Australian states plus the ACT are represented with six international entries sailing for the UK, USA, France, Italy and two part Russian crewed boats.
To view the list of yachts applied to enter go to http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/yachts.asp?key=526
By Jennifer Crooks/Rolex Sydney Hobart media team
8 DECEMBER 2010
Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winner’s fortunes change
Fortunes have changed dramatically for last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winner Andrew Saies whose South Australian Beneteau First 40 Two True has suffered a mast breakage during the delivery to Sydney for the Boxing Day start of this year’s ocean classic.
“There’s been an incident during the delivery from South Australia and I’m now trying to source a new mast through Beneteau in Sydney,” said Saies this morning.
“If we can locate one in the next 48hrs we’ll most likely have it sent to Williamstown in Victoria, which is an 18 hour motor from Apollo Bay around to Port Phillip in good conditions.
“Our mast was customised so a replacement won’t be identical, but it will get us to the Rolex Sydney Hobart start line, something we’ve been working towards all year.
“This is just one of the hurdles interstate competitors have to face. The crew is obviously devastated but we have to remember we’ve had 20,000 problem free delivery miles over five years” added the South Australian orthopaedic surgeon who is in for a busy couple of days on the phone.
Last year Grant Wharington’s maxi Etihad Stadium broke its mast en route from Melbourne setting off a chain of events that saw the 98 footer race against the clock to start the Rolex Sydney Hobart with a mast flown from France at the eleventh-hour, only to withdraw while still in Sydney Harbour.
Saies wasn’t onboard Two True, instead entrusting his boat to his experienced delivery crew headed up by skipper Tony Ritter.
As they were entering Apollo Bay marina, located at the foothills of the Otways and in the heart of the Great Ocean Road region of Victoria, Saies believes the crew had good sights on the channel markers indicating the narrow entrance, but ran aground on a sandbar at low tide, around 7.30pm last night.
The five person delivery crew called on local authorities for advice and assistance and at some point during the towing process, presumably while trying to tip the boat with a rope above the spreaders in an attempt to refloat it, the top third of the mast bent and broke. No one was injured during the incident and the current South Australian IRC Champion yacht is now safely berthed at the marina.
While this incident is a major setback for Saies’ challenge for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, he is quietly confident a replacement mast will be sourced and installed in time for the race start in 18 days time, on Sunday 26 December at 1pm.
Andrew Saies was named 2010 Yachting South Australia Sailor of the Year and the Boating Industry of South Australia’s Boatman of the Year. He is one of 10 finalists for the South Australian Sportsperson of the year while Two True is the current IRC state Champion and Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia boat of the year.
The Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet currently stands at 90 yachts. To view log onto http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/yachts.asp?key=526
By Lisa Ratcliff/Rolex Sydney Hobart media team
Sea temperature and currents heating up for Sydney to Hobart
Ocean currents and sea surface temperatures off Australia’s New South Wales’ coast are looking very interesting in the lead-up to the 2010 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
In a similar fashion to last year, a large eddy of warm water is forming offshore which indicates strong southerly surface currents. With favourable wind, this potentially means massive gains for canny competitors.
The forecasts have been made by Australian-based company Tidetech – the world’s leading provider of tactical oceanographic data. Its comprehensive resource of detailed and accurate oceanographic data is compiled by internationally-recognised scientists and is produced in formats compatible with a range of tactical/navigation software packages, making it ready-to-use by sailors and other maritime users.
Tidetech director Penny Haire said over the past few days the currents to the northeast of Sydney had changed quite rapidly as a huge and powerful warm eddy was pushing its way south.
“We expect this eddy to continue moving south, which will have an immediate impact on tactics after the boats depart Sydney Heads,” Ms Haire said.
“Skippers will have to decide whether to be bold and go offshore to get maximum benefit, or be conservative and stick close to their competition.
“It’s Tidetech’s job to provide navigators with the best possible information so they can make confident decisions.”
The 2009 Sydney to Hobart IRC overall winner, Two True, used Tidetech’s data to its advantage. Heading further east than any other vessel, the team made the most of strong southerly currents and won the race.
Tidetech’s data has been used in many other regattas and races including the Melges 32 World’s, Rolex Big Boat Series (San Francisco), Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race (the data was also used in the popular online game, Virtual Regatta, for the same race) and many others as far back as the 2008 Sydney to Hobart.
Tidetech is also in the running to provide oceanographic data to the forthcoming Volvo Ocean Race and 34th America’s Cup.
Available as a subscription, Tidetech data is downloaded into onboard navigation software. With detailed graphical presentation, users can select the information they want displayed including ocean current strength and direction, sea surface temperature and tidal streams. The data is presented in GRIB format which is compatible with the more popular race navigation and tactical software packages.
Within the next year, all Tidetech products will be developed for use on mobile devices such as the iPad and iPhone and will also be integrated with a growing number of navigation systems.
17 DECEMBER 2010
Brindabella is back
Australia’s best-known maxi Brindabella never really left the scene, but in recent years one of the country’s most iconic ocean racing yachts has been a bit out of shape - still one of the prettiest boats in the fleet, but not so quick.
The upcoming Rolex Sydney Hobart, though, will have a whole new old Brindabella on the start line. With an enthusiastic new owner with deep enough pockets and a crew who dearly love her, she is almost as fresh and as spry as the day George Snow first steered her across the start line way back in 1993.
The new owner is engineer Jim Cooney and he’s making something of a comeback to competitive sailing himself. He learnt how to race as a young man on an S&S 34 before getting hooked on J24’s racing out of the CYCA. But for the past 12 years he has been marooned in England, building up a global operation that is constructing wind farms in the UK, Northern Ireland, the USA and Canada.
Early this year Cooney decided it was time to jump back in the water and Brindabella, languishing on the market for years, was an 80 foot plunge pool he could not resist.
“She is an icon,” he says. “She behaves very well for a great big boat, she is not fragile like the newer yachts, and she is very elegant.
“The first time I took the wheel in a race was exhilarating and nerve wracking – she is such a big boat to control in a crowded harbour, but there was so much camaraderie from the rest of the fleet because they were so pleased to see Brindabella back.
“It is full credit to George Snow that he and (designer) Scott Jutson built such a beautiful boat and then set so many records.”
Buying the boat was just the beginning. Cooney has spent a small fortune getting Brindabella up to her old standard.
“It’s like a puppy. It doesn’t cost much to buy but you’ve got to feed it the rest of its life,” he jokes.
“I knew that it wouldn’t be like my previous boats that could sit on the pontoon between sails, but the scale of the logistics of owning and running a maxi have been a surprise.”
Maxis need a big crew to race competitively. When you buy a maxi you not so much buy a piece of hardware as a sports team with its very own 80 foot stadium. And racing competitively is what it’s all about as far as Cooney is concerned.
“We all know that she is older and heavier than the other big boats, and we know that we aren’t competing in the maxi worlds. We are realistic about how fast we can go. In the Rolex Sydney Hobart we would like to see ourselves in the top 10 to 20. It depends on the conditions. We would like some robust weather but our objective is to get her going as fast as she has ever gone, and then perhaps even faster.”
Justin “Bluey” Sutherland, Cooney’s boat manager and long time Brindabella crewman, reckons that they have already reached the first benchmark. Brindabella is in mint condition, he says. He and a host of other Brindabella stalwarts have been the backbone of the yacht’s renaissance and will chaperone Cooney in his Rolex Sydney Hobart debut. He’s in good hands with 176 races amongst the crew. And while they marvel at Cooney‘s readiness to spend what it takes to bring the old girl back up to speed, he says that their devotion to the project has been just as crucial.
“They really love her,” Cooney says, and when you have a lot of people who like the idea of Brindabella up and racing it makes it easier for me to put in the cash. I know that I’m not the only one putting in.
“The boat is looking really good. We gave her a polish and she is absolutely gleaming. And this is the original coat - after seventeen years it’s still bright and shiny. At least I didn’t have to spend any money on paint.”
Cooney has big plans for his new boat. After the Rolex Sydney Hobart he will start preparing her for a crack at the record for the fastest circumnavigation of Australia in May. As well as being a lot of fun, he says, the voyage will be part of Ian Thompson’s Save Our Seas Australia campaign to raise awareness about the damage done to the world’s oceans by plastic waste.
It’s the trifecta really. Jim Cooney builds sustainable energy wind farms, campaigns against the toxic plastic rubbish choking our seas, and he recycles one of Australia’s most loved ocean racing yachts.
By Jim Gale/Rolex Sydney Hobart media team