Constitution Dock has begun to fill up as the smaller yachts in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race cruise to a warm and sunny welcome in Hobart. A pattern is also emerging in the handicap standings under IRC. While Aera was confirmed as overall winner of the race late yesterday, division winners in some of the smaller classes began to be confirmed today.
As winner of The Tattersalls Cup, Nick Lykiardopulo and the British team on Aera also picked up the Division A trophy. Stephen Ainsworth steered his Swan 48 Loki to a Division B victory and while Nips-n-Tux looks good for Division C, confirmation can only come when other boats have finished in Hobart later today. Division D went to Courtesan and Division E to Love & War, one of the oldest yachts in the 116-boat fleet.
A Sparkman & Stephens 47 constructed of timber, Love & War has an illustrious history in this race. She was overall winner in 1974 and 1978, and her Division E victory this year is one of many that she has enjoyed since her launch in 1973. It was crew member Max Yanez’s sixth Rolex Sydney Hobart but his first division win. He was very happy to have sailed on an older boat such as Love & War.
“We had no damage during the whole race,” said Yanez. “I wouldn’t say she’s bullet proof, because I don’t think you could say any boat is bullet proof. If nature wants to win, nature will win. But it’s a pretty solid boat, we fell off some pretty big waves, but when it came down with a thud that was always the end of it. The boat just carries on. I’ve never sailed in hard conditions in a new boat, but from what I hear it’s a very different experience.”
Perth based Philip Childs went to enormous efforts to truck his Farr 38 Courtesan all the way across the Nullarbor Plain from Western Australia, and was rewarded with victory in Division D. “I’m really very happy for the crew because they worked so hard over the last five days,” he said. “We got a crew together to tackle this about eight months ago, a crew of diverse people together from three different sailing clubs in Western Australia and decided to take the boat across the Nullarbor Plain on truck and reconstruct it over here.”
Childs, a surgeon by profession, gathered an eclectic group of friends to join him on the 628-mile adventure. “We had a geologist, sailmaker, spar maker, engineer, boilerman, teacher, welder, and an airline pilot.” This was Childs’ first Rolex Sydney Hobart and he said he would definitely do it again, provided winds didn’t exceed 50 knots, which of course is never guaranteed in a race as unpredictable as this. “If I knew it was going to be like that, I might think twice. We lost our wind instruments at over 35 knots, we couldn’t record it, so I don’t really know what it got to this time.” He said he was very fortunate to have some experienced hands who had been through the race before.
Many other teams have trickled in throughout the day, including that of the Mumm 36 Abbott Tout. Young Brazilian sailor Ed Vieytes was jubilant to have arrived, not caring about the result, just caring that they reached Hobart at all. Like Vieytes, German Philipp Kadelbach was competing in his first Rolex Sydney Hobart but he and the rest of the team on the new 49-footer Vineta were forced back to Eden.
“We were going through huge waves and gusts of 45 knots when the lifting keel started making banging and cracking noises in its case. We tacked on to port tack to avoid the worst of the waves, but then water started coming into the boat. It was the second day of the race and the water was beginning to come in faster than we could bail it out. At one point the bow was just 5 centimetres above the water. That was pretty scary. We were 50 miles south-east of Flinders Island. I was a little scared, but we kept calm.”
“We decided to turn round at 4pm on the second day and we arrived in Eden at 9am the following morning. Even that was still scary, at times we were doing 18 knots downwind with only the storm jib. It was still gusting 40 knots. The waves were real monsters, maybe 10 or 12 metres high. Out there, I asked myself, ‘Why are we doing this?’ I was cold, and at one point a big wave hit me and slammed me on to a winch. I was saying never again.”
“But now, sitting in Sydney, I think I would do it again. This is not like day racing or anything I’ve done before, though. This race is about arriving. I think that if we had set out with that mentality, perhaps we might have made it to Hobart. I’m really sorry not to be celebrating the New Year in Hobart, but maybe another time.”
For the sailors who did make it to Hobart, the New Year celebrations have started early. Tonight the fireworks will light up the sky and the champagne corks will be popping. But twelve of the yachts still racing are predicted by the Yacht Tracker to be celebrating the arrival of 2005 out in the Tasman Sea, not least the diminutive 31-footer Gillawa, which still has more than 250 miles to the finish. She is expected in Hobart on 3 January 2005, and she will receive a rapturous welcome from the appreciative crowd in the Tasmanian capital.
The formal Rolex Sydney Hobart Prize giving takes place at noon on 1st January 2005 at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania
Standings, recorded at 1700 (AEDT), 31 December 2004
1st Overall and 1st Division A:
Aera, Owner Nicholas Lykiardopulo, Skipper Jez Fanstone
Royal Yacht Squadron, UK
IRC Division B:
Loki, Owner/Skipper Stephen Ainsworth Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, NSW
IRC Division C:
Nips-N-Tux, Owner/Skipper Howard de Torres
IRC Division D:
Courtesan, Owner/Skipper Philip Childs
Hilarys Yacht Club, WA
IRC Division E and 30-Year Veteran Division:
Love & War, Owner Peter Kurts, Skipper Simon Kurts
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, NSW
Sydney 38 Division:
Chutzpah, Owner/Skipper Bruce Taylor
Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, VIC
Seriously TEN, Owner/Skipper John Woodruff & Eric Robinson
Top 5 Line Honours standings
1. Nicorette finished at 05:10:44 hours, 29/1/04
2. AAPT – finished at 11:40:42 hours, 29/1/04
3. Brindabella – finished at 13:56:50 hours, 29/1/04
4. Aera – finished at 15:43:43, 29/1/04
5. Seriously Ten – finished at 16:16:38 hours, 29/1/04
(please visit www.rolexsydneyhobart.com for the full list of finishers)
Provisional IRC Overall
3. Ichi Ban
Forty-two yachts have finished, 17 are still racing and 56 yachts have retired
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