Start of the Centennial Transat THE BRIDGE (Photo © Thierry Martinez / THE BRIDGE )

The Queen Mary 2 left France on July 25th UTC amid great fanfare and crowds who gathered to watch the spectacle of this first of it’s kind race. This event is celebrating a century of friendship and unity between France and America. The event commemorated the centennial of the United States entering World War I to fight with the allies and end the conflict. On June 26, 1917 the first Americans landed in Saint-Nazaire, France. Along with those Americans came jazz music and basketball. Therefore it was appropriate that these were incorporated in THE BRIDGE 2017 when the events were organized.

The Bridge 2017 – Nantes (Photo © Benoît Stichelbaut / The Bridge)

The race pitted the Queen Mary 2 against four Ultime Trimarans skippered by some of the greatest names in Ocean Racing. Francis Joyon – IDEC SPORT, Thomas Coville – Sodebo Ultime, François Gabart – MACIF, and Yves Le Blévec – ACTUAL.

The Queen Mary beat out the competitors finishing in July 1st. She made the crossing in 5 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes. Her average speed for the crossing was 22.7 kts.

 

  • © George Bekris

 

The Queen Mary 2 ended her race to New York as she crossed the finish at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at 5:00 am local time.  After crossing she passed the Statue of Liberty and did a circle in front of it as New York Fireboat saluted her with a spray in the morning light.

 

QM2 passes the Statue of Liberty with Fireboat salute (Photo © George Bekris)

Statue of Liberty and Fireboat (Photo © George Bekris)

 

The Queen Mary 2 has its thirteen passenger decks, the Queen Mary 2 is the largest, longest, tallest, widest, and most expensive passenger ship of all time. The 1,132 foot ship has a top speed of 29 knots and is so stable it a bit like being in a luxury hotel on the water. Her sweeping 2nd deck covered in wood runs the entire length of the ship with an uninterrupted view that runs from bow to stern. She is reminiscent of the golden age of cruising the oceans when the getting there was an event in itself. There are beautiful and elegant restaurants. Before the modern neon, water slide laden, running track and glitz liners so common in ports all over the world. This ship brings back the elegant grandeur of a time of elegance in travel. There is a feeling of going back in time as you step aboard and take in the grand lobby and halls lined with relief sculptures. She recently underwent a total refit so everything is sparkling and fresh onboard.

 

  • © George Bekris

 

There are many cabins to choose  from including the opulent duplex Buckingham Suite at the stern the spanned deck 9 and 10 with a private viewing deck on the stern.

 

  • © George Bekris

 

During her crossing the passengers were treated to the well known jazz singers and musicians. Archie Shepp performed with his saxophone.  Also performing during the festival ain onboard was Natalie Dessay. The festival of Jazz began with concerts Nantes, Saint-Nazaire, continued on the ocean, and will conclude with a concert in New York City at the Central Park SummerStage Festival on July 1, 2017. Bringing the events full circle from it’s origins in the United States to France and a century later back New York City.

 

New York City Skyline from the deck of the Queen Mary 2 (Photo © George Bekris)

There were other aspects to THE BRIDGE as well. Personal bridges and bonds made. Anna Boissier, a passenger on the ship, decided to take part in the cruise after finding out the link between herself and France in her own family history.

She was a American from Pennsylvania who married a Frenchman and moved to France twenty one years ago. She began investigating her own roots and found seven generations ago on her father’s side of the family a man named Lorenz Sandmanm, who came from the Baden region in Germany was in her family tree. He sailed on a ship to America 1752.   The name Sandmann through time became Sentman.  One of the Sentmans was Eli who  joined the CO B303 Bn Tank Corps on May 3, 1918 during World War I. He trained and travelled across the atlantic with the American forces to a tank base in England. Eli was then sent to Neuvy-Pailloux, France later that year. He was stationed in France during the winter of 1919 before leaving the army and returning to america that spring.

After the war he started an automobile dealership in Philadelphia where Boissier’s grandfather worked as well. Their family continues to live in Pennsylvania with the exception of Bossier who has been in France for 21 years. This trip is especially exciting for her as she is set to meet her cousin Eli Sentman V in New York before the ship sails back to France.  This trip was a bridge for Anna and her family as well. She will have a new connection in America that she would never had if she hadn’t began building bridges of her own. Now Anna will have family memories for her and her husband to take back to France.

 

  • © George Bekris

 

THE BRIDGE 2017 was not only a race. On the ship were business representatives in the 100 CLUB who chartered the ship to participate in the race against the Ultime trimarans in the transatlantic race. The 100 CLUB was established with the launch of the race in September of 2016 by Tony Parker, a sponsor of the bridge. There were 150 companies represented on board the QM2 to take place in 8 days of conferences and exchange of ideas mixed in with time to unwind in the middle of the Atlantic and let their creative minds collaborate on new ways to work together. This time allowed them uninterrupted opportunities to make contacts for the future in the ever changing world of business in the 21st century and it’s abundance of new business opportunities. It was a mix of small, medium and large companies all looking toward the future and how to best adjust and adapt going forward in a changing world. Allowing them to form bonds and alliances with each other that will last well past this transatlantic crossing. It just happened to take place on board one of the most majestic ships today on one the world’s greatest oceans, far from land and daily distractions.

 

  • © George Bekris

 

The FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2017 Basketball portion of THE BRIDGE was ongoing in France with 40 teams from 36 countries competing at the Parc des Chantires. The winners were Serbia in 1st place, Netherlands in 2nd and France took 3rd.

“I’ve always looked at sailing as a way of building bridges,” Damien Grimont, the founder and organizer, said. “Here, we brought the worlds of jazz, basketball, and business together to remember this 100 years and this race has been an amazing bridge between all of them. “The Queen Mary 2 was the biggest thing because it was so important to the lives of so many people, particularly in Saint-Nazaire (where she was built). There are such emotional ties and such energy from that boat; 100,000 people worked on it and four million hours of human labor went into its construction.”

This was the first edition of THE BRIDGE. It’s the hope of many that this becomes a tradition of bringing together the brightest minds in business with the top racers in the sailing circuit for an event that will grow with each edition.

 

Queen Mary 2 Passes the Staten Island Ferry after completing The Bridge Centennial Transat (Photo © George Bekris)

The 150 companies participating in the 100 club were as follows:
4 MOD – 727 SAILBAGS – AAERON FRANCE – ACT.ALARM – ACTUAL – ADENINE – ADRIEN STRATÉGIE AID – AIR FRANCE – ALAIN CHARTIER – AMP – APRIL MOTO – ARIES ALLIANCE – ARMETON – ATELIER DES TENDANCES – ATLANTIQUE EXPANSION ERB – ATLOC – ATOL – AVOLENS – AXO- BERJAC -BIG SUCCESS – C3P – CDII – CABINET MOITIER ET CARRIÈRE – CANAPÉS DUVIVIER – CAPACITÉS CAPVISIO – CAZENOVE ARCHITECTURE – CELENCIA – CFLC GROUPE (CRLC – ATLANTIC SOL) – CHÂTEAU DES TOURELLES – CIC – CLEAR CHANNEL – CLUB APM MAYENNE – CM-CIC INVESTISSEMENT -C.M.R – COLBERT ASSURANCE – COLBERT PATRIMOINE ET FINANCE – CORNET VINCENT SEGUREL AVOCATS – CREATIC EMBALL SERVICES – DANTES YACHTS – DELOITTE – DOCUWORLD GROUP – DOLMEN -DURET IMMOBILIER – ENVOLIIS – EUROPCAR – EXCELIUM – EY – FICAMEX – FINANCIÈRE CONSEIL -GALÉO – GELENCSER – GÉNICADO – GESTAL – GIL TURPEAU ENTREPRISES – GOSSELIN DESIGN & DIGITAL – GROUPE COUPECHOUX – GROUPE DUBREUIL – GROUPE GRUAU – GROUPE IDYL’AUTO – GROUPE LE DUFF -GROUPE LEGENDRE – GROUPE LUCAS – GROUPE MOUSSET – GROUPE RIDEAU – GUESNEAU SERVICES -GYMGLISH – HARMONIE MUTUELLE – HERIGE – HISI – HLP AUDIT – HOFIA – IDÉA – IJINUS – INTERACTION INTERIM – INTUITI – KPMG – LA MAISON HEBEL – LAUDESCHER INDUSTRIE – LAUDREN ATLANTIQUE – LE CONSERVATEUR – LEROY MERLIN – LINER COMMUNICATION – LOCARMOR LOGISTIC SOLUTIONS – LUCAS G – MAINDRON – MANHATTAN ASSOCIATES – MCDONALD’S OLONNE-SUR-MER – MÉTIER INTERIM & CD – MITIS – MNM CONSULTING – MSTREAM – MULTIPLAST – NANTES SAINT-NAZAIRE DÉVELOPPEMENT – NAP – NEOVIVO – NOUVEL OUEST – OCF – ORATIO – OUEST COUVERTURE ÉNERGIE – OUEST-FRANCE – PAEONIA – PATRICK GELENSCER -PLAST’IC ENTREPRISES – PRÉFA TECHNICOF – PROTECT’HOMS – QUADRA CONSULTANTS – REALITES – RÉAUTÉ CHOCOLAT – REGARD 9 – RH-INC – SÉCHÉ ENVIRONNEMENT – SEGASEL – SÉMÉNIA – SFCMM -SIMAB – SIPAC ASSURANCES – SAS RABAS – SODEBO – SOFAGEM – STREGO – SUPER U VERTOU -SYD CONSEILS – TEAM PLASTIQUE – TEGRALIS – TIBCO – TGS AUDIT – TGS AVOCATS – THÉÂTRE 100 NOMS -THE LINKS – TRANSPORTS VÉZO – TRANSVERSALES – TRI OUEST – VALPG PÔLE GRAPHIQUE EPA -VD COM – VERTAL – VYP

Queen Mary 2 Grand Lobby (Photo © George Bekris)

For more information and facts about the race visit THE BRIDGE 2017

Visit George Bekris Photography for more photos of THE BRIDGE 2017 and the QUEEN MARY 2 in New York

 

 

 

Wild Oats XI near finish (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

DOUBLE TRIPLE WITH ICING ON THE TOP
 
Robert Oatley’s Wild Oats XI was announced this morning as the Overall Winner of the 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart. It had become clear overnight that none of the yachts still at sea could better the corrected time established by the 30.48m (100 foot) maxi skippered by Mark Richards. Wild Oats XI has repeated its historic performance of 2005, when it secured the treble of Line Honours, Overall Winner and Race Record.

 

Aside from Rani, in the very first race, Wild Oats XI is the only yacht ever to have achieved this impressive display of dominance. She has now done it twice. Bob Oatley was understandably impressed: “The main aim was the fastest time. To get the handicap too was fantastic, a real bonus. Getting the record trip was really the icing on the cake.”

By 15:00 AEDT on 29 December, 13 yachts had finished the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart including two of the international entries: KLC Bengal from Japan and Ambersail from Lithuania. Last year’s winner, Loki, has so far come closest to unseating Wild Oats XI. Finishing last night at just before 21:00 even she was two hours adrift on corrected time. Black Jack, which arrived an hour before Loki, lies in third overall. Chris Bull’s Jazz holds fourth.

Victorian yacht Calm had appeared to have the best opportunity of the yachts destined to arrive before dawn today. Needing to finish before 01:31, she was behind schedule yesterday afternoon. Owner Jason Van der Slot believed they would pick up pace but had not counted on stalling close to the finish: “We parked for two hours off Tasman Island and for an hour in the Derwent. We were aiming to finish in time to win and up to Tasman Island we were on track. It had all gone according to plan until then.” She eventually finished at 06:06 this morning and holds fifth place.

Five yachts have retired so far and, for the 58 yachts still racing, a difficult evening lies ahead. In the lee of northeastern Tasmania there is a substantial wind shadow. From midway down the eastern seaboard to Tasman Island spindrift is flying off 3 metre waves in a 26 – 36 knot west-southwesterly. These conditions are forecast to prevail through much of 30 December too.

Wild Oats approaching the Hobart finish for 2012 Line Honors (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

 
        
 
On the morning of 28 December 2012, Wild Oats XI once again stamped her name in the Rolex Sydney Hobart history books. From the moment the start gun fired on Boxing Day the silver wraith seemed intent on condemning her rivals for line honours to the position of also-rans. Wild Oats XI’s finish time of 1 day 18 hours 23 minutes and 12 seconds sliced 16 minutes 58 seconds off her own record. Another commanding performance in a race she has begun to treat as her own.

 

Without doubt skipper Mark Richard’s crew of thoroughbred racers had some luck, but their race was not without problems. The first night saw the wind drop in the scheduled transition and her opponents close down the lead she had worked to establish during the afternoon. The crew held their nerve and once the northeasterly settled in they were off.

Ragamuffin-Loyal’s endeavours to stay in touch with Wild Oats XI were hampered by a headsail gear failure from which the 100-foot maxi never recovered; Syd Fischer’s equally accomplished crew forced to accept the unwelcome role of bridesmaid. Ragamuffin-Loyal finished almost five hours behind Wild Oats XI. Had the apparent error of starting the race too early been converted to a penalty, her crew’s sense of disappointment would have been complete. Fortunately, the International Jury found that race officials failed to notify Ragamuffin-Loyal after five minutes that they had jumped the start, leaving the crew unaware that they should have returned and restarted.

By 20:30 AEDT only four yachts had completed the 628 nm course. Lahana rounded out the maxi contingent just before 19:00, while Black Jack was the first mini maxi some 40 minutes later. Loki and Ichi Ban will be next home. None have so far been capable of posting a time that knocks Wild Oats XI off the overall podium position. The door may be open for a smaller yacht if the weather obliges. Calm, Jazz, Quest and Shogun look best placed to foil a second triple crown. They need the wind to shift substantially in their favour, something it has singularly failed to do so far.

Wild Oats XI near finish (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

MALUKA OF KERMANDIE the smallest yacht in the fleet by Daniel Forster

MALUKA OF KERMANDIE the smallest yacht in the fleet (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

The 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart got underway in exceptional conditions. The forecast southerly breeze providing the perfect angle for a spinnaker start and run down the harbour. The angle would prove less kind as the yachts exited the Sydney Heads and made their turn towards Hobart, finding the 20 – 25 knots now firmly on the nose. Mark Richards and Wild Oats XI looked to be in no mood to be interrupted in her bid to claim a sixth line honours, blasting off the line and showing Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin Loyal a clean pair of heels before popping out of the Heads comfortably in the lead.

 
 
An interesting night lies ahead. The decision how far to head out to sea was the first conundrum facing the crews. So far the bulk of yachts appear firm in the belief that staying inshore, and inside the rhumb line will pay better. Only, one or two boats have shown a determination to head offshore for any length of time. Mike Broughton, navigator on Chris Bull’s Jazz, felt ahead of the start that the fleet would do well to stay inshore for the initial section of the race, certainly until the major swing in wind direction expected during the night. This transition should see the wind back to the northeast and will have the yachts running under spinnaker for an extended period.

 
Start of the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart
Earlier this morning, Gordon Maguire, tactician on Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki, indicated some of their pre-race routing suggested the bigger yachts could profit enormously from the predicted northeasterly. If it arrives on cue, they could bite a huge chunk out of the course during the hours of darkness and be lying off Green Cape by mid-morning on the second day, 27 December. The small boats, meanwhile, such as race veteran Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose, might only find themselves parallel with Jervis Bay as dawn breaks. The difference in power between segments of the fleet will be all too apparent at this juncture.

 

Wild Oats XI leads out of Sydney Harbor (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

WILD OATS XI, after the start
At 17:30 AEDT Wild Oats XI was 8 nautical miles north east of Kiama travelling at 12 knots, with some 50 nm under her belt after 4.5 hours of sailing. Any thought of setting a new record seemed to be on hold as navigator Adrienne Cahalan called in to report the wind speed dropping as evening arrives. Ragamuffin Loyal lies within striking distance just astern. Lahana, Ichi Ban and Black Jack round out the top five on the water. Conditions have been wet and hard on crews during these first few hours and the measure of performance differential between front-runners and back markers is clearly demonstrated by Charlie’s Dream. Averaging just 3.4 knots, Peter Lewis and crew were parallel with Botany Bay having knocked a mere 13 nm off the 628nm course distance.

Black Jack charges down the harbor by Daniel Forster

Black Jack charges down the harbor (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart is like few other yacht races. The natural amphitheatre formed by the deep-water harbour offers great viewing potential from the water, at water level from the beaches and coves, and grandstand opportunities from higher ground. Every Sydney-sider has a favourite location, and South Head must be one of the most popular and dramatic. A huge crowd always assembles to watch the fleet barrel down the harbour and make the sharp out into open water. This year’s spectacle was worth the effort involved. After a dreadful Christmas Day, when rain and wind battered Sydney, Boxing Day has been a joy. Blue sky and reasonably warm temperatures brought the locals out in their thousands to cheer the determined and enthusiastic crews off on their compelling adventure.

 

Crowds on the South End enjoy the spectacle. (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Entries

Abracadabra 5612 New South Wales Tripp 47
AFR Midnight Rambler 8338 New South Wales Ker 40
Akatea NZL8710 New Zealand Cookson 50
Ambersail LTU1000 Lithuania Volvo 60
Ariel A140 New South Wales Beneteau First 40
Asylum YC10 South Australia Sydney 38
Aurora N3 New South Wales Farr 40 – One Off
Black Jack 52566 Queensland Reichel Pugh 66
Blunderbuss RQ4000 Queensland Beneteau First 40
Brannew 9988 New South Wales Beneteau First 40 Cr
Breakthrough 6834 New South Wales Beneteau First 40
Brindabella 10000 New South Wales Jutson 79
Calm SM5252 Victoria TP52
Carbon Credits 6669 Queensland Beneteau First 45
Celestial-Assistance Dogs 421 New South Wales Rogers 46
Charlie’s Dream RQ1920 Queensland Bluewater 450
Chutzpah R33 Victoria IRC 40
CIC Technology Inca F111 Aust Capital Territory Vickers 41
Copernicus 6689 New South Wales Radford 12
Corporate Initiatives 7407 New South Wales Beneteau First 40.7
Cougar II 5200 Tasmania TP52
Dekadence S20 Victoria DK46
Duende ESP6100 New South Wales JV52
Dump Truck A6 Tasmania Ker 11.3
Enchantress SA346 South Australia Muirhead 11
Eressea 6590 Queensland Hanse 415
Finistere F108 Western Australia Davidson 50
Flying Fish Arctos 7551 New South Wales McIntyre 55
Frantic GBR5211 New South Wales TP52
Geomatic M495 Victoria Hanse 495
Halcyon R75 Victoria Beneteau First 40
Helsal III 262 Tasmania Adams 20
Holdens Secret Mens Business YC3300 South Australia Reichel Pugh 51
Icefire R6572 New South Wales Mummery 45
Ichi Ban AUS 03 New South Wales Jones 70
Illusion 5356 New South Wales Davidson 34
INSX SM5985 Victoria NSX 38
Jazz Player S390 Victoria Bakewell – White 39
Jazz 5299 New South Wales Cookson 50
Kioni 6146 New South Wales Beneteau First 47.7
KLC Bengal 7 JPN4321 Japan Humphreys 54
Lahana 10081 New South Wales 30m Maxi
Living Doll R55 Victoria Farr 55
Local Hero 1236 New South Wales BH 36
Loki AUS 60000 New South Wales Reichel Pugh 63
Love & War 294 New South Wales S & S 47
Luna Sea 8339 New South Wales Hick 35
Lunchtime Legend RQ14 Queensland Beneteau First 40
Maluka of Kermandie A19 Tasmania Ranger
Martela 7075 Tasmania IMX 38
Merit 8679 Queensland Volvo 60
Occasional Coarse Language Too 8008 New South Wales Sydney GTS 43
Ocean Affinity RQ64 Queensland Marten 49
Papillon 6841 New South Wales Archambault 40RC
Patrice Six 360 New South Wales X41
Peugeot Surfrider 7771 New South Wales Beneteau 45
Primitive Cool S777 Victoria Farr 40 Mod
Quest 52002 New South Wales TP 52
Ragamuffin Loyal SYD100 New South Wales Elliott 100
Rikki NZL8008 New Zealand Reichel Pugh 42
Rush B45 Victoria Corel 45
Sailors with disAbilities 6953 New South Wales Nelson Marek 52
She 4924 New South Wales Olsen 40
Shogun 6952 Victoria JV 52
Southern Excellence NOR2 New South Wales Volvo 60
St Jude 6686 New South Wales Sydney 47
This Way Up RF360 Western Australia Sydney 36CR
Toybox 2 MH4 New South Wales XP 44
TSA Management MH60 New South Wales Sydney 38
Tusitala SAM1 Samoa Goss 60
Two True YC400 South Australia Beneteau First 40
Veloce SM602 Victoria Elliott 44CR
Wicked SM4 Victoria Beneteau First 40
Wild Oats XI 10001 New South Wales RP100
Wild Rose 4343 New South Wales Farr 43
Zen 3838 New South Wales Sydney 38

Syd Fischer and Tony Ellis (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

 

The 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race promises to be one for the true believers; if you admire people who constantly challenge your values, fire your imagination, refuse to quit when the going gets tough, can’t be told that they are too old, are too stubborn to give it away and who keep coming back for more, then this year’s race is a Christmas present you’ll never forget.

At centre stage of the race, again run by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, is Sydney yachtsman Syd Fischer, a national living treasure who is still in the grip of finish line fever. At the age of 85, when most men of his age might be shuffling around a retirement village in their slippers with their trousers braced up around their chest, Fischer wants to win line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht race – again.

He’s taken over the boat to do it, Investec Loyal, last year’s first across the line. The 100-foot super maxi becomes the latest iteration of Fischer’s Ragamuffin series, Ragamuffin Loyal.

Syd – lean, leather-skinned, laconic, highly competitive and still the subject of discussion for his exploits on and off the water – personifies Sydney: he won’t lie down.

The challenge he mounts at the front of the 80-boat fleet caps off an indifferent year for Australian sport internationally, a disastrous year for world cycling, but a great year for Australian sailing.

We had success at the Olympics with Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page in the 470 Men’s, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen in the 49er, Tom Slingsby in the Laser and Olivia Price, Nina Curtis, and Lucinda Whitty in the Women’s Match Racing in the Elliott 6. The TV coverage at the superb Weymouth venue has reinvigorated interest in sailing and helped to demystify it for non-sailors.

Fischer will be on his 44th Sydney-Hobart. He has already won line honours wins with Ragamuffin in 1988 and 1990, with an overall win in 1992 aboard an updated Ragamuffin.

This year he is leasing Investec Loyal with a view to knocking off five-time line honours winner and race record holder (1:18:40:10 set in 2005) Wild Oats XI, whose skipper, Mark Richards, is just young enough to be his grandson.

Last year Loyal, skippered by owner Anthony Bell, beat Wild Oats XI in the fourth closest finish in the race’s history; three minutes and eight seconds.

This month Richards and Wild Oats XI recaptured a psychological advantage over Fischer by taking line honours in the 180 nautical mile Cabbage Tree Island Race, when Ragamuffin Loyal had to drop her mainsail after a pin dropped out of the port runner block. Sailing with a scratch crew, Fischer made repairs, but was unwilling to risk the rig. It must be noted she was eight miles behind Oats at the time and contesting her first ocean race with Fischer.

Prior to winning last year’s race, Loyal was second across the line in 2010 and fourth in 2009. Not only has Fischer leased Loyal for the next two Hobart races, he will buy it outright when the lease runs out.

For this year’s Hobart race, Fischer will have right-hand man, Tony Ellis, and David Witt as boat captain. Ellis will sail his 46th race (one behind the record), but will sail his 40 together with Fischer, while Witt was one of Australia’s best known 18ft skiff sailors in the 90s. He made the transition to ocean racing, via the great events: the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Melbourne-Osaka double-handed race and the Volvo Ocean Race.

Asked at today’s official launch if there are many arguments between him and Fischer on the boat, Ellis said: “We’ve had plenty of cross words over the years – but it stays on the boat.” Does Ellis win any of the arguments? “Syd’s won a few arguments with me,” Ellis quipped.

When asked about the crew that will be onboard for the Hobart race, Ellis said, “We’re going to have a pretty well rounded crew by the time we get to the start line… Andrew Cape (multiple Volvo Ocean Race and Rolex Sydney Hobart yachtsman) is going to come and navigate for us. The last time we sailed together (the 1992 Hobart), we won the race overall.

Geoff Huegill, the Aussie swimming legend and former butterfly world record holder, is back, sailing aboard the same boat he did his first race on in 2010; Ragamuffin Loyal. “To be part of a crew that has such great experience behind them is something that I am really looking forward to,” he said.

“Once you’ve got the bug for sailing it really gets you – the teamwork aspect is an opportunity that I really enjoy,” Huegill commented.

The hardest part of his first race, the retired swimmer said, was “Sleep deprivation – but I’m used to it now, because I have a 10 month old baby,” he said.

Owner, Bob Oatley, has gone back to the drawing board with Wild Oats XI after her defeat in the Derwent last year. Oats had been no match for Loyal in light weather. She keeps her retractable daggerboards that were fitted before last year’s race, but she has a new retractable, centreline fin, three metres aft of the bow.

The aim of all three is to reduce leeway, but they are each used in different phases of light weather sailing, the forward fin being used first before being retracted. In addition, there is a new fitting on the bulb of the keel, whose role is to minimise ‘tip vortex’, curling water at the tip of the bulb that can reduce lift.

Skipper, Mark Richards said at the official Rolex Sydney Hobart launch today, “Last year’s race was a great race all the way until the finish, but Loyal was quicker in light air – and we’ve made some radical modifications to rectify that. We’ve tested the new set-up and it’s
working well.”

This then is the battle royale to which we can look forward to at the front of the fleet, the old bull versus the young bull for the fastest boat at sea, but there will be other contenders.

Peter Millard and John Honan’s 98ft maxi Lahana is back after finishing third across the line in 2010 and 2011. Also on the front row of the grid is Grant Wharington’s Wild Thing, which took line honours in 2003, when she was named Skandia. The 98 footer has undergone modifications ahead of the race, including being lengthened to 100 feet.

Last year’s overall race winner, Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel/Pugh 63 Loki, is back to defend her title and still appears to be the boat to beat. In August, the CYCA boat broke the 13 year-old record for a conventional yacht in the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Race and won the race outright. This month she won the CYCA’s Cabbage Tree Island Race and she goes in to the Rolex Sydney Hobart as the pre-race favourite.

On board again are sailing master Gordon Maguire and navigator Michael Bellingham. Ainsworth has also declared this is his last. He will be selling Loki and spending future Christmases with his family (unless he suffers the Fischer Syndrome at some stage).

Fischer first took line honours in 1988 in a gale-strewn race that ended with one of the smallest boats in the fleet, the Davidson 34, Illusion, win the race outright. Illusion is back as well this year, this time in the hands of Kim Jaggar and Travis Read.

The two bought the boat in April and, according to Jaggar, have spent more on its reconfiguration than the actual purchase. They are seeking to reduce the boat’s rating by going to a masthead kite, smaller headsails and a longer spinnaker pole. It will sail with a crew of eight.

“We’d like to beat Hicko (Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose) and Simon (Simon Kurts’ Love & War),” Jaggar said, “but it has to be right race for us.”

Love & War is always a sentimental favourite for handicap honours in the race. Peter Kurts won the race in 1974 and 1978 and, after his death in January 2005, son Simon gave the nod for his navigator Lindsay May to sail the wooden boat to Hobart the following year.

May sailed her to an emotional third win in 2006 and is back in his role as navigator, while Peter’s son Simon will skipper the yacht with his 21-year-old son Phillip having his second crack at the race.

Bob ‘Robbo’ Robertson’s top performing Queensland yacht Lunchtime Legend is on a mission, coming off a win in the Magnetic Island Race Week series and second in both the Audi Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach Race Weeks.

“This is our year; we have to do it this year,” Robertson said, having built and launched the Beneteau 40 in time for the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart race and scoring a highly creditable third in IRC Division 4 after scoring the exact same overall time as Andrew Saies’ same design Two True (SA) and in the company of pacesetters of the calibre of Hickman’s Wild Rose (NSW) and David Rees’ Whistler from Tasmania.

This time, Lunchtime Legend has a younger crew fired up, Robertson says, after the Australian successes at the London Olympics: “That has done so much to get young people involved again in sailing. I reckon our average age will be 20 years lower than in the 2011 race.”

This is a strong fleet of 80 boats: four maxis and nine previous winners of the major trophy, the Tattersall’s Cup, presented to the overall winner.

Joining Illusion, Loki, Love & War, Wild Rose and Wild Oats XI in the previous winners’ club are Geoff Boettcher’s 2010 winner Secret Men’s Business 3.5, Andrew Saies’ 2009 winner Two True, which is one of four South Australian entries, Bob Steel’s 2008 winner Quest and Luna Sea, which won the nightmare 1998 race as AFR Midnight Rambler, which is now in the hands of James Cameron.

Anthony Lyall’s Cougar II, which was second overall in 2008 in the hands of Victorian Alan Whiteley, leads the Tasmanian contingent in this year’s race. She has just won the Maria Island Race in record time and claimed the treble of record, line honours and overall win.

All states and the ACT have boats in the fleet with the NSW fleet numbering 43, Victoria 13, Queensland nine, Tasmania and South Australia four each, WA two, the ACT one and there are four overseas entries.

The overseas boats include the first Lithuanian entry, Ambersail (Simonas Steponavicius), a Volvo 60 that had been the Assa Abloy training boat for the 2001/2 Volvo Ocean Race.

Beneteaus make up the biggest design contingent, 12 of them, all in the 40-foot range. Two True and Lunchtime Legend will be up against the other form boat, the reigning Blue Water Point Score champion, Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire and the chartered Balance, now known as Peugeot Surfrider, which will feature a mostly French crew headed by Sebastien Guyot.

Once again, David Kellett will lead an experienced team on the Radio Relay Vessel (RRV), JBW, which accompanies the fleet to Hobart each year, generously loaned again by John Winning. Young Endeavour will act in the role of Communications Support Vessel to the RRV this year, under command of LCDR Michael Gough, Commanding Officer STS Young Endeavour.

The CYCA’s annual race starts at 1pm AEDT on Boxing Day, December 26 on Sydney Harbour. The fleet will sail from two start lines off Nielsen Park. The start will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia, webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7 and the Australia Network throughout the Asia Pacific Region.

By Bruce Montgomery, Rolex Sydney Hobart media team

THE 2012 RACE

YACHT NAME SAIL NUMBER STATE / COUNTRY TYPE
Abracadabra 5612 NSW Tripp 47
AFR Midnight Rambler 8338 NSW Ker 40
Akatea NZL8710 New Zealand Cookson 50
Ambersail LTU1000 Lithuania Volvo 60
Ariel A140 NSW Beneteau First 40
Asylum YC10 SA Sydney 38
Aurora N3 NSW Farr 40 – One Off
Black Jack 52566 QLD Reichel Pugh 66
Blunderbuss RQ4000 QLD Beneteau First 40
Brannew 9988 NSW Beneteau First 40 Cr
Breakthrough 6834 NSW Beneteau First 40
Brindabella 10000 NSW Jutson 79
Calm SM5252 VIC TP52
Carbon Credits 6669 QLD Beneteau First 45
Celestial-Assistance Dogs 421 NSW Rogers 46
Charlie’s Dream RQ1920 QLD Bluewater 450
Chutzpah R33 VIC IRC 40
CIC Technology Inca F111 ACT Vickers 41
Copernicus 6689 NSW Radford 12
Corporate Initiatives 7407 NSW Beneteau First 40.7
Cougar II 5200 TAS TP52
Dekadence S20 VIC DK46
Dodo* HKG2238 NSW Andrews 52
Duende ESP6100 NSW JV52
Dump Truck A6 TAS Ker 11.3
Enchantress SA346 SA Muirhead 11
Eressea 6590 QLD Hanse
Finistere* F108 WA Davidson 50
Flying Fish Arctos 7551 NSW McIntyre 55
Frantic GBR5211 NSW Tp52
Geomatic M495 VIC Hanse 495
Halcyon R75 VIC Beneteau First 40
Helsal III 262 TAS Adams 20
Icefire R6572 NSW Mummery 45
Ichi Ban AUS 03 NSW Jones 70
Illusion 5356 NSW Davidson 34
INSX SM5985 VIC NSX 38
Jazz Player S390 VIC Bakewell – White 39
Jazz 5299 NSW Cookson 50
Kioni 6146 NSW Beneteau First 47.7
KLC Bengal 7 JPN4321 Japan Humphreys 54
Lahana 10081 NSW 30m Maxi
Living Doll R55 VIC Farr 55
Local Hero 1236 NSW BH 36
Loki AUS 60000 NSW Reichel Pugh 63
Love & War 294 NSW S & S 47
Luna Sea 8339 NSW Hick 35
Lunchtime Legend RQ14 QLD Beneteau First 40
Maluka of Kermandie A19 TAS
Martela 7075 TAS IMX 38
Merit 8679 QLD Volvo 60
Occasional Coarse Language Too 8008 NSW Sydney GTS 43
Ocean Affinity RQ64 QLD Marten 49
Papillon 6841 NSW Archambault 40RC
Patrice Six 360 NSW X41
Peugeot Surfrider 7771 NSW Beneteau 45
Primitive Cool S777 VIC Farr 40 Mod
Quest 52002 NSW TP 52
Ragamuffin Loyal SYD100 NSW Elliott 100
Rikki NZL8008 New Zealand Reichel Pugh 42
Rush B45 VIC Corel 45
Sailors with disAbilities 6953 NSW Nelson Marek 52
Secret Men’s Business 3.5 YC3300 SA Reichel Pugh 51
She 4924 NSW Olsen 40
Shogun 6952 VIC JV 52
Southern Excellence NOR2 NSW Volvo 60
St Jude 6686 NSW Sydney 47
This Way Up RF360 WA Sydney 36CR
Toybox 2 MH4 NSW XP 44
TSA Management MH60 NSW Sydney 38
Tusitala SAM1 Samoa Goss 60
Two True YC400 SA Beneteau First 40
Veloce SM602 VIC Elliott 44CR
Wicked SM4 VIC Beneteau First 40
Wild Oats XI 10001 NSW RP100
Wild Rose 4343 NSW Farr 43
Wild Thing AUS10 NSW Jones 100 Maxi
Zen 3838 NSW Sydney 38

 

 

FLEETWING USA 37 Skipper Henry Brauer (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

FLEETWING USA 37 Skipper Henry Brauer (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

It was an unseasonably wet, dreary day in Newport, but at least somewhere, someone was having fun.  That somewhere was Rhode Island Sound where nearly 100 teams are competing in the New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex on the second day of the split-format event’s final four days of buoy racing.  And that someone was Dawn Riley (Oyster Bay, N.Y.), who along with eight Oakcliff Sailing Center trainees, helped guide Art Santry’s (Oyster Bay) Ker 50 Temptation-Oakcliff to the top of the scoreboard in IRC Class 3after two victories in two races today.”We’re sailors; we get wet all the time,” said Riley, a veteran of America’s Cup and Whitbread Round the World Races who serves as executive director of Oakcliff in Oyster Bay.  She explained that the Center’s mission of raising the level of sailors and sailing in the U.S. was on artful display today, as the trainees worked side-by-side with Riley, on mid-bow, and six other seasoned sailors, including Santry, who skippers and sponsors the boat.

According to Santry, the team played the shifts extremely well on three of the four upwind legs. “Our crew work was flawless, and the gybes and tacks were perfect,” he said, noting that yesterday Temptation-Oakcliff had been in third overall after finishing third in the opening race of the series.  “I’m exceedingly impressed with the Oakcliff program; these kids are great. They have been working together with us all season, and they are tough, enthusiastic and dedicated to the program. If the crew work maintains, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Class IRC 4 Start Pendragon ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Class IRC 4 Start Pendragon ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

One race circle hosted four IRC classes, while another hosted one-design racing for J/109, J/111, Beneteau 36.7 and Swan 42 classes.  Due to a light-wind forecast, the Swan 42s elected to resume buoy racing today rather than compete in their originally scheduled distance race, but in the end, they—like the other classes—were met with a hearty 12-15 knots by mid-morning, when the heaviest rain showers had moved on. Large swells also figured in as the winds tapered off to 8-10 during the course of the afternoon.

Another who had no problem making the most of the conditions was Craig Albrecht (Sea Cliff, N.Y.), skipper of the Farr 395 Avalanche in IRC Class 4.  His team defended its first-place position from yesterday by finishing 3-4 today to stay two points ahead of Greg Manning’s (Warwick, R.I.) X-41 Sarah.

“Staying in the pressure was key, and changing gears up and down was important,” said Albrecht, whose team won the American Yacht Club Spring Series Regatta earlier this year. “The racing has been very close, and it has been exciting, especially at the mark roundings where many of the boats have overlapped.”

John Hele’s (Toronto, CAN/Newport) Daring won both races today in the Swan 42 class, propelling him to first overall from third yesterday and giving him a better shot at taking the national crown that is being determined here. Following a general recall, an individual recall after the start of the first race brought Z-flag penalties against the teams of Arethusa, Barleycorn, Impetuous and Conspiracy.  Having not gone back to exonerate themselves from jumping the start gun cost the teams three positions on their scoring for that race. Defending national champion Ken Colburn (Dover, Mass.), helming Apparition, finished 4-4 today to drop to second from first yesterday.

Swan 42 Fleet (Photo by Rolex  / Daniel Forster)

Swan 42 Fleet (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

The J/109s, which are sailing their North Americans, also had individual recalls in their first race that saw yesterday’s leader Storm, skippered by Rick Lyall (Wilton, Conn.), return to the start line to successfully clear. The team fought back to eighth and finished first in the second race, but the performance was only good enough for a third in overall scoring. It left the proverbial door open for Ted Herlihy’s (S. Dartmouth, Mass.) Gut Feeling to take the top spot after that team finished 4-2 today.  With nine points, Gut Feeling’s overall score is shared with Skoot, skippered by Jim Vos (New Canaan, Conn.), which sits in second overall, so both teams are a slim one point ahead of Storm.

The J/111 Class’s first day of competition went well for Henry Brauer’s (Marblehead, Mass.) Fleetwing, which took bullets in each of two races. “The first race was great, because it was good breeze; the second race was a bit more challenging because of the lighter wind and the lumpy seas,” said Brauer, who is new to the J/111 Class this year after having sold the J/105 Scimitar that he co-owned with Stewart Neff (serving as his tactician here) and with which he won the 2011 J/105 North American Championship.  “We got good starts, Stewart put us in the right place, and the team did a great job trimming the sails and keeping us going the whole time. The important thing to racing well is having a good team, so there are a lot of the same people onboard that I’ve sailed with in the past. Having that nucleus is very important.”

In the Beneteau 36.7 Class, William Purdy’s (New York, N.Y) Whirlwind displaced John Hammel’s (Arlington, Mass.) Elan at the top of the scoreboard after winning both races today.  Elan finished 2-3 to take second overall, just one point behind Elan, and David Powers’s (Boston, Mass.) Agora is only one more point behind in third, on the merit of a 3-2 today.

Yesterday, in the second of two races for IRC Class 1, Bob and Farley Towse’s (Stamford, Conn.) Reichel Pugh 66 Blue Yankee could not finish within the time limit and posted five points to the two posted by George David’s (Hartford, Conn.) Reichel Pugh 90 Rambler. Today the two teams split the victories in two races, so Rambler still holds a three-point lead in the two-boat series thus far.

In IRC 2, Jim Swartz’s (Park City, Utah) IRC 52 Vesper still leads after finishing 1-5 today, while Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (Newport, R.I.) IRC 52 Interlodge has moved into second place overall.

Three more new classes will join the action tomorrow: Melges 32, J/105 and PHRF, the latter of which is sailing “navigator courses” instead of around the buoys.

For complete results, daily video and blog for the 2012 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex, visit www.nyyc.org.
(end)
(Top-five Results Follow)
New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex
Results, July 20, 2012

J/111 (One Design – 6 Boats)
1. Fleetwing, J/111, Henry Brauer, Marblehead, Mass., 1, 1 (2)
2. Wicked 2.0, J/111, Douglas Curtiss, South Dartmouth, Mass., 3,2 (5)
3. Jazz, J/111, Rodney Johnstone, Stonington, Conn., 2, 3 (5)
4. Andiamo, J/111, Paul Strauch, Manhasset, N.Y., 4, 4 (8)
5. Partnership, J/111, David and Mary Ellen Tortorello, Bridgeport, Conn., 5, 5 (10)

Beneteau 36.7 (One Design – 8 Boats)
1. Whirlwind, Beneteau 36.7, William Purdy, New York, N.Y., 3,1,1 (5)
2. Elan, Beneteau 36.7, John Hammel, Arlington, Mass., 1,2,3 (6)
3. Agora, Beneteau 36.7, David Powers, Boston, Mass., 2,3,2 (7)
4. Resolute, Beneteau 36.7, Junius Brown, Ridgefield, Conn., 4,7,4 (15)
5. Surface Tension, Beneteau 36.7, Lou Melillo, Middletown, N.J., 5,5,5 (15)

Swan 42 (One Design – 15 Boats)
1. Daring, Swan 42, John Hele, Newport, R.I., 3,1,1 (5)
2. Apparition, Swan 42, Ken Colburn, Dover, Mass., 1,4,4 (9)
3. Stark Raving Mad VI, Swan 42, James Madden, Newport Beach, Calif., 6, 3, 8 (17)
4. Vitesse, Swan 42, Jon Halbert, Dallas, Texas, 2,7,9 (18)
5. Arethusa, Swan 42, Philip Lotz, Newport, R.I., 5, 13/ZFP, 2 (20)

J/109 (One Design – 17 Boats)
1.Gut Feeling, J 109, Ted Herlihy, South Dartmouth, Mass., 3, 4, 2 (9)
2.Skoot, J 109, Jim Vos, New Canaan, Conn., 4,2,3 (9)
3.Storm, J 109, Rick Lyall, Wilton, Conn., 1,8,1 (10)
4.Rush, J 109, Bill Sweetser, Annapolis, Md., 5, 1, 4 (10)
5.Caminos, J 109, Donald Filippelli, Amagansett, N.Y., 6, 3, 6 (15)

IRC 1 (IRC – 2 Boats)
1. Rambler, RP 90, George David, Hartford, Conn., 1,1,1,2 (5)
2. Blue Yankee, Reichel Pugh 66, Bob and Farley Towse, Stamford, Conn., 2, 3/TLE, 2,1 (8)

IRC 2 (IRC – 5 Boats)
1.Vesper, IRC 52, Jim Swartz, Park City, Utah, 1,1,1,5 (2)
2.Interlodge, IRC 52, Austin and Gwen Fragomen, Newport, R.I., 2,5,2,2 (11)
3.Privateer, Cookson 50, Ron O’Hanley, Newport, R.I., 5,3,4,1 (13)
4.Flying Jenny 7, IRC 52, David & Sandra Askew, Annapolis, Md., 4,2,5,3 (14)
5.SLED, IRC 52, Takashi Okura, Tokyo, Japan, 3,4,3,4 (14)

IRC 3 (IRC – 8 Boats)
1.Temptation-Oakcliff, Ker 50, Art Santry, Oyster Bay, N.Y., 3,1,1 (5)
2.Decision, HPR Carkeek 40, Stephen Murray, New Orleans, La., 2,3,4 (9)
3.White Gold, J 44, James D. Bishop, Jamestown, R.I., 5.5,2,2 (9.5)
4.Cool Breeze, Mills 43 Custom 43, John Cooper, Cane Hill, Mo., 1,4,5 (10)
5.High Noon, CTM 41, Steve and Heidi Benjamin, Norwalk, Conn., 5.5,6,3 (14.5)

IRC 4 (IRC – 14 Boats)
1.Avalanche, Farr 395, Craig Albrecht, Sea Cliff, N.Y., 1,3,4 (8)
2.Sarah, X-41, Greg Manning , Warwick, R.I., 7,1,2 (10)
3.White Witch, King 40, Larry Landry, Newport, R.I., 3,10,1 (14)
4.DownTime, Summit 40, Ed and Molly Freitag, Annapolis, Md, USA – 6,7, 3 (16)
5.Settler, Peterson 42, Tom Rich , Middletown, R.I., 8, 2, 7 (17)

Investec Loyal crossing the finish line for Line Honours (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Investec Loyal crossing the finish line for Line Honours (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

The 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was notable for an unexpected winner of the coveted line honours trophy, a worthy overall winner and a slow passage home for the smaller boats.

The Boxing Day start of the 628 mile race south to Hobart was spectacular, with the 88-strong international fleet setting off from the heart of Sydney Harbour, with its iconic bridge and Opera House as a backdrop. The Heads and shoreline were teeming with spectators as news helicopters flew overhead. Leading the charge on the beat out of the Harbour was Bob Oatley’s maxi Wild Oats XI, the line honours winner in five out of the last six Rolex Sydney Hobarts.

Weather-wise the start of the race was fairly conventional with some fast running conditions for the afternoon, but with a dramatic 180 degree wind shift into the south forecast for the first evening. A swell from the north generated by the ex-tropical cyclone Fina, combined with this wind shift, created a horrific confused sea on the opening night, as the 30 knots southerly wind kicked in with a punch, gusting up to 40 knots. But it is these brutal, testing conditions competitors expect when they set out on the Rolex Sydney Hobart and give the event its reputation as one of the world’s toughest offshore yacht races.

For the crews it was a case of battening down hatches and muscling through and by the first morning there was an impressively low attrition rate with just two retirements. They were joined later by a third, the 2003 line honours winner Grant Wharington’s Wild Thing, suffering sail damage.

24 hours in and race favourite for line honours, the Mark Richards-skippered Wild Oats XI ,was 11 miles ahead of Anthony Bell’s maxi Investec Loyal, these two having broken away from Peter Millard’s Lahana with singlehanded round the world sailor Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss holding fourth on the water. On IRC handicap Roger Hickman, an old hand in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, competing in his 35th race, had pulled into the lead aboard his 1993 race winner, Wild Rose.

For this Rolex Sydney Hobart Wild Oats XI had been ‘turboed’ with the addition of new twin daggerboards and a larger square-topped mainsail, but her dominance as the fastest boat in the race was called into question when at 20:00 on the second evening of the race she was overtaken by the similarly-sized, but older, Investec Loyal.

With the wind lightening and backing from the southwest into the southeast, so Wild Oats XI was caught in a wind hole. Her co-navigator, Ian Burns explained what happened: “They [Investec Loyal’s crew] were keeping track of how we were doing and the moment we stopped under a cloud with no wind under it, they basically sailed right around the outside of this large hole we were stuck in and came back above us. It was good work on their part.”

The theoretically faster Wild Oats XI managed to catch up and overtook Investec Loyal at 07:30 on the second morning of the race as the two boats were sailing down the east coast of Tasmania. For the rest of the morning followers of the race were on the edge of their seats as the two boats match raced around the remainder of the course.

As they rounded the south side of Tasman Island, so Wild Oats XI was becalmed again and, taking their chance, Investec Loyal once again pounced, sailed around the outside of them to regain the lead. Crossing Storm Bay and sailing up the Derwent River to the finish, the Wild Oats XI crew, sailing with many of Australian yachting’s elder statesmen and women on board, threw all they could at Investec Loyal, but it was not enough. Investec Loyal crossed the finish line at 19:14:18 local time, after 2 days 6 hours 14 minutes and 8 seconds at sea, just 3 minutes and 8 seconds ahead of Wild Oats XI. This was the fourth closest finish in the 67 year history of the Rolex Sydney Hobart.

Unfortunately celebrations were dampened when the line honours winner was protested by the race committee. This was over a conversation between Investec Loyal tactician Michael Coxon and a helicopter pilot on the first morning of the race in which Coxon enquired about whether the mainsail or the trysail was being used on board Wild Oats XI. Investec Loyal’s line honour victory was finally confirmed when, after a three hour long protest hearing, the International Jury concluded that Coxon, in his capacity as Managing Director of North Sails Australia, had made the enquiry about Wild Oats XI’s new 3Di mainsail for professional reasons and this in no way had benefitted Investec Loyal’s performance during the race.

Investec Loyal Crew Celebrates Taking Line Honours (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Investec Loyal Crew Celebrates Taking Line Honours (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

 “It was one of the great experiences in my life,” said Anthony Bell, Investec Loyal’s owner and skipper of his win. “The whole thing from the very start, right through to the finish line, was exhilarating. It was a really tough fought out race, but the crew believed in the boat and the cause right from the start and we are so happy to have got past the finish line first.”

Bell’s campaign doubled as a vehicle to raise money for charity (it raised Aus$ 1 million in 2011) on this occasion for the Humpty Dumpty Foundation, which purchases vital medical equipment for 178 children’s hospitals around Australia and East Timor. For this reason among their crew were a number of celebrities including sports stars, such as Australian rugby union internationals Phil Kearns and Phil Waugh.

As the slower boats were becalmed in Storm Bay and up the Derwent River, so it became evident that this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart would be one for the smaller large boats, including the competitive 50ft fleet. However the stand-out boat in this size range was Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel Pugh 63, Loki. Over the last 18 months this has proved to be one of the most successful campaigns in on the Australian circuit. Under IRC, Loki’s corrected time was 50 minutes faster than that of Michael Hyatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll, with 84 year old Syd Fischer’s modified TP52 Ragamuffin third and the Cookson 50 Jazz of Britain’s Chris Bull, fourth.

Overall Handicap winner, Stephen Ainsworth, LOKI with Patrick Boutellier Rolex Australia Poto by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Overall Handicap winner, Stephen Ainsworth, LOKI with Patrick Boutellier Rolex Australia

 

“We are elated. It is a fantastic feeling, a huge thrill to win this race,” said a jubilant Ainsworth, after being presented with a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece by Patrick Boutellier of Rolex Australia and the coveted Tattersall’s Cup, for winning IRC handicap honours. “Having done 14 races, I know how hard it is to win this race. So many things have to go right for you and the wind gods were with us. Our race went extremely well. The aim for the navigators was to avoid stopping and we successfully did that, although we came close a couple of times. Look at what happened to Wild Oats XI – that could easily have happened to us.”

Ainsworth’s crew, led by Irish round the world sailor Gordon Maguire, was 18 strong, but of these only one third were professionals. “The handicap win came when the big boats parked up,” said Maguire. At one point the maxis had extended to almost 120 miles in front of them, but as they had slowed, so Loki had managed to reel back 60 miles.

Earlier in the race the competitive 40 and 45ft Beneteaus had been among the most promising on handicap along with Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose. However the progress of the smaller boats was hampered as the wind shut down for them as they manoeuvred around the east coast of Tasmania into Storm Bay and up the Derwent River leading up to Hobart.

Darryl Hodgkinson, skipper of the First 45 Victoire summed it up best: “I thought it was going to be a carbon copy of last year’s race where we sat in the Derwent. This year we actually camped in Derwent! The last miles from the Tasman Light to the finish typically take six to seven hours. On this occasion it took 15.”

A pre-race favourite among the smaller boats was the new Ker 40 AFR Midnight Rambler, but co-owner Ed Psaltis, winner of the race in 1998, said they had made some wrong tactical choices and, entering Bass Strait, ended up in a giant wind hole, entrapping them for six hours.

While there had been a strong turn-out in Hobart’s Constitution Dock to witness the end of the match race marathon between Investec Loyal and Wild Oats XI, this was rivalled when Australian youth solo round the world sailing phenomenon Jessica Watson arrived aboard Ella Baché another Challenge. Watson’s crew have now entered the history books as the youngest to take part in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, but having spent two and a half months training as a team prior to the start Watson was delighted with taking second place in the Sydney 38 class.

“It was really, really good, everything you would expect,” said Watson on her arrival. “We had three quite bouncy nights on the nose. We didn’t see any severe conditions, but there was some pretty uncomfortable stuff for quite a while there.”

Having previously sailed solo, Watson was full of praise for her crew. “The crew were awesome. It was the best sailing we’ve ever seen them do. It’s what we have been training for and they did exactly that. Everyone did an amazing job. All credit to them – I just held on for the ride.”

Last but not least MALUKA OF KERMANDIE crew and owner Peter Langman (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Last but not least MALUKA OF KERMANDIE crew and owner Peter Langman (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

The last boat to arrive, crossing the line late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, was that of Sydney boatyard owner Sean Langman. Langman is best known for his attempts to win line honours in previous races, but on this occasion was sailing the wooden 1932 coastal cruiser/fishing boat, Maluka of Kermandie as crew for his 18 year old son Peter.

This year’s race once again proved that to earn victory in the Rolex Sydney Hobart is something that takes persistence. As Gordon Maguire concluded: “I won this race in 1991 on an IOR 2 tonner Atara with Harold Cudmore. It was my second Hobart race and I thought ‘easy’. It has been 20 years since I won it again. I have won an awful lot of regattas in between and I do this race almost every year, so it is not an easy race to win. You can’t just come down here with the best boat in the world and win it. You have to come down here with the best boat in the world and have all the luck in the world – all that has to happen in the same race. It is a very unusual beast.”

 

Maltese Falcon (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Maltese Falcon (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Having cheered on the first six yachts when they departed on the Transatlantic Race 2011 two days ago, the 14-strong group of yachts that will take the second of the three staggered starts now have less than 24 hours until they begin the race across the North Atlantic for themselves.  The warning signal at 13:50 Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, June 29, will cue the largest group of yachts to depart, including the show-stopping Maltese Falcon, and spectators are guaranteed to see a unique sailing spectacle when the cannon is fired at Castle Hill Light.

Without doubt, tomorrow’s start will feature the most diverse battle of the race.  The Open Class has just two yachts, but they are two of the showiest yachts in the race.  Maltese Falcon, at 289’, is the largest yacht competing and is up against the only multihull entered in the race, Phaedo, the Gunboat 66 owned by Lloyd Thornburg (St. Barthelemy).  The Lamborghini-orange catamaran and the futuristic Perini Navi will be a spectacular sight as they head off into the Atlantic.

In IRC Class Two, Jazz, a Cookson 50, has a star-studded crew including the highly experienced navigator, Mike Broughton (Hamble, U.K.), and skipper, Nigel King (Lymington, U.K.).  Unfortunately, due to family commitments, owner Chris Bull is unable to make the trip.  Two German teams on nearly identical yachts will also go head-to-head in the class:  Christoph Avenarius and Gorm Gondesen’s Shakti and Jens Kellinghusen’s Varuna should virtually match race across the North Atlantic.

IRC Class Three will feature six yachts, including Snow Lion, the Ker 50 owned by former NYYC Commodore Lawrence Huntington (New York, N.Y.).  Snow Lion is a proven winner, having won her class in the Newport Bermuda Race, and should be highly competitive on corrected time.  There are, however, some real fliers in this class, not the least of which is Zaraffa, the Reichel Pugh 65 owned by Huntington Sheldon (Shelburne, Vt.), whose crew includes several veterans of the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.  The Volvo 60 Ambersail, skippered by Simonas Steponavicius (Vilnius, Lithuania), is a much-travelled yacht having logged over 100,000 miles since being purchased in 2008 to celebrate a thousand years of Lithuanian history. After sailing around the world, Ambersail took part in the 2010 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, winning class honors and placing second overall.

The youth entry from Germany, Norddeutsche Vermoegen Hamburg, will be helmed by Eike Holst whose third Transatlantic Race will be his first as skipper.  And while the majority of the team aboard the Andrews 57 are university students in their 20s, two of the crew are just 18 years old.  Many of sailors in the race were introduced to the sport as a family activity, which means the parents of these sailors, in particular, have a degree of understanding and ease with the undertaking at hand.  That was not the case for Jerome Vigne, the Parisian-born mechanical engineering student who will have a very relieved mother welcoming him home to Germany.

Blending a comfortable interior with the performance of an Open 60 is Ourson Rapide, the Finot-Conq 60 owned by Paolo Roasenda (Vedano al Lambro, Italy).  This is a special boat that should have a dream-like ride downwind.  Scho-ka-kola, named for the German chocolate confection, is a Reichel Pugh 56 owned by Uwe Lebens (Hamburg) that has completed two previous Atlantic crossings.

Prodigy, a Simonis/Voog 54, is a proven winner.  Owner Chris Frost (Durban, South Africa) took line honors in the 2011 Heineken Cape to Rio Race and will compete in the Rolex Fastnet Race, as well as the Rolex Middle Sea Race, as part of a year-long campaign.  Of the 10 crew on Prodigy, two – including Aaron Gillespie (Butler, N.J.) and John Fryer (New York, N.Y.) – were recruited by Frost using the “Crew Finder” feature on the event’s website.  It will be Gillespie’s first Transatlantic crossing.

The two smallest yachts in start two are both Class 40s: Dragon and Concise 2, the latter skippered by Ned Collier-Wakefield (Oxford, U.K.).   Tony Lawson (Haslemere, Surrey, U.K.) assembled a crew of young aspiring sailors from Great Britain to make up Team Concise.  The team has become a force to be reckoned with having won the 2009 Class 40 World Championship, set a world record for the Round Britain and Ireland course and taken class honors at the RORC Caribbean 600 for the last three years.

Dragon is the only boat racing across the Atlantic double-handed. Owner Michael Hennessy (Mystic, Conn.) has been an avid sailor ever since introduced to the sport by his father at the age of four on San Francisco Bay.  Following college, Hennessy logged thousands of miles cruising along the New England coast before he started to focus on short-handed distance racing in 2002.  Since then he has competed in four Newport Bermuda Races, as well as dozens of other races across New England.  In 2008 he took notice of the fast growing Class 40 fleet and took delivery of his Owen Clarke-designed boat. In just two short years, Dragon has become a fixture on the ocean racing circuit.  Joining Hennessy will be co-skippered Rob Windsor (East Northport, N.Y.) who grew up sailing with his family on Long Island Sound.

Sponsors of the TR 2011 are Rolex, Thomson Reuters, Newport Shipyard, Perini Navi and Peters & May, with additional support by apparel sponsor Atlantis Weathergear.

For more information, visit http://www.transatlanticrace.org/.