So the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is over for 2010.
His Excellency, the Honourable Peter Underwood, Governor of Tasmania, was on hand again this year to present the awards, along with Hobart’s Lord Mayor Rob Valentine; David O’Bryne, representing the Premier of Tasmania; the CYCA Commodore Garry Linacre; RYCT Commodore Graham Taplin; Patrick Boutellier of Rolex Australia; and Barbara McGregor, from Tasports.
This was one of the more “classic” Rolex Sydney Hobarts in recent years because of the heavy weather and rough seas that boats and their crews encountered—a hallmark of this well-known ocean race.
The race started with a ‘Southerly buster’ during the first night, with the fleet of 87 starters encountering winds that reached 40 to 50 knots. Those gale-force winds and the resulting monstrous seas took their toll and saw a steady stream of boats retire due to steering damage, torn sails and engine problems, and for one unlucky yacht, a dismasting. After two days, 18 boats were forced out of the race, retiring because of the adverse weather conditions and resulting damage to boat and equipment.
Following that, boats and crew had to contend with getting across the notorious 100 nautical mile wide Bass Strait. By the race end, winds lightened somewhat and boats at the back of the fleet had trouble getting enough wind to get up the ten-mile stretch of Derwent River to the finish line in Hobart.
Race favourite, Robert Oatley’s 100-foot maxi Wild Oats XI picked up the line honours as expected for a fifth time.
In the end, it was the medium-sized boats that had the advantage, such as the 51-footer, Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Men’s Business 3.5, which was the overall handicap winner of this year’s race.
The yacht won IRC Overall and IRC Division 1 titles. About the race, Boettcher said, “It was a boyhood dream to win this race. I just can’t believe I’m here.” He also thanked his talented and dedicated crew for their help. “These boys are fantastic,” he said.
The Reichel Pugh 51 was extensively modified last year, and Boettcher attributes these modifications to helping with the win. “With the modifications we were able to point much better, and we increased the hull length while we were at it,” he said.
A highlight of this morning’s presentation was when Investec Loyal maxi yacht skipper Sean Langman received the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Trophy for second overall on elapsed time. Showing true sportsmanship at its best Langman said, “I’d like to acknowledge every single competitor in this year’s race, which was more a test of the human condition than just a boat race.”
Langman went on to say that, as he often does, he greeted the last boat, Wave Sweeper, when it arrived into King’s Pier Marina, “To me that boat really epitomises what this race is about. Wave Sweeper stopped off in Eden and dropped off an injured crew. They had a whole lot of damaged sails, but still pushed on.”
When Langman saw them arrive, he said they looked dejected for coming in last. In a touching tribute Langman said, “But to me, they really came in first. I’d like to give the crew of the Wave Sweeper a hearty congratulations for their effort.”
While there can only be one winner, Langman’s attitude—that just finishing the race makes you a winner resonated with the father and son team aboard the US entry, Dawn Star. Keen sailors and competitors Bill and Will Hubbard shared a life long dream of sailing in a Rolex Sydney Hobart, what has become known as the world’s toughest ocean going race.
The 76-year old Hubbard said of the race, “I can honestly say it was the worst race and the best race I’ve ever done—and that’s the honest to God’s truth. The second day was hell on earth. I’ve never been so unhappy and thought that I made a major error in judgment.”
Bill Hubbard, 26, said the race was, “Wet! It was a test of endurance but we got here.” At one point during the race south, Dawn Star was hit by a freak wave and knocked down, sending two crew members overboard. “Their safety gear keep them from being lost,” admitted the younger Hubbard.
And with a twinkle in his eye, the sunburned and unshaven elder Hubbard looked back on the adventure that was the 2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart and said, “The fourth day was the most fantastic day on the water we’ve ever spent. The wind was perfect. The weather was perfect and in that night every star in the sky was out. It was beautiful.”
The Polish Trophy is presented to the yacht travelling from the furthest point to compete. This year’s winner was Alberto Biffignandi’s OneLife, which was sailed on an extended cruise by family and friends from Santa Margherita Ligure to Sydney. Biffignandi said the name of his boat is meant to inspire others. The affable Italian said, “You only have one life; you should go now or you never will.”
The entries for this the 66th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race included six international yachts from the USA, UK, Italy, France, as well as two partly crewed Russian boats, and entries from seven of the eight Australian states and territories.
Wild Oats XI, Robert Oatley (NSW/AUS), Reichel/Pugh 100
Secret Mens Business 3.5, Geoff Boettcher (SA/AUS), Reichel/Pugh 51
IRC Div 0: Jazz, Chris Bull, (VIC/AUS), Cookson 50
IRC Div 1: Secret Mens Business 3.5, Geoff Boettcher
IRC Div 2: Victoire, Darryl Hodgkinson (NSW/AUS), Beneteau First 45
IRC Div 3: Paca, Philippe Mengual (NSW/AUS), Beneteau First 40
IRC Div 4: Ray White Spirit of Koomooloo, Mike Freebairn (QLD/AUS), S&S 48
PHS Div 1: NSC Mahligai, Murray Owens & Jenny Kings (NSW/AUS), Sydney 46
PHS Div 2: Flying Fish Arctos, Martin Silk (NSW/AUS), McIntyre 55
Sydney 38: Eleni, Tony Levett (NSW/AUS), Sydney 38
ORCi 1: Jazz, Chris Bull
ORCi 2: Victoire, Darryl Hodgkinson
ORCi 3: Copernicus, Greg Zyner, (NSW/AUS), Radford 12
Cruising: OneLife, Alberto Biffignandi, Italy, Amel