Sydney-Hobart Regatta: dramas on Sydney Bay

VThere was no longer talk of a serene Christmas: the teams of the quartet of superyachts fought with all their might at the start of this year’s Sydney-Hobart regatta in the most beautiful bay in the world. Tens of thousands of spectators watched the start of the traditional race in glorious weather and initially relatively light wind from the waterside tracks, hundreds of spectator boats attempted to get as close as possible to the “goats of race”. On the Supermaxi Law Connect, a member of the crew exclaimed almost in despair: “We have no more room.

Christopher Hein

Trade correspondent for South Asia/Pacific based in Singapore.

The spectators were given everything: the four giants came very close in the fight for the best starting position at the passage of the heads, the rocks at the exit of the bay. Series winner Wild Oats had to turn first and then took the lead. A little later, the Supermaxi Comanche touched the first mark, then Wild Oats, after long debates between record holder Mark Richards and six-time America’s Cup winner, New Zealand tactician Richard Murray Jones, has also shot two penalty laps. It was initially unclear whether she really broke the rules. Jones, however, did not want to risk disqualification later. After a “Jesus Christ guys,” Richards bowed to him and spun his ship 720 degrees at full speed.

At 1 a.m. local time, 109 yachts took the start of the 77th edition of the Sydney-Hobart Regatta. For the 628 nautical miles, skippers are expecting relatively good conditions this year, and for many that means fast conditions. For the first time since 2019, the traditional regatta resumed without restrictions due to the corona pandemic. In 2020, “Sydney-Hobart” was canceled for the first time since 1945. However, Australians are under pressure after the borders of the long-closed fifth continent were opened this year: A total of eight foreigners are using post-Corona times to measure their strength at the regatta with its spectacular start in the European winter, which is followed around the world.

Four Supermaxis duel for victory

It’s not just the four supermaxi sailing first across the line at Hobart Bay who are hoping for a relatively strong and steady northerly breeze. This would allow for a long and fast listening route along the south east coast of Australia. The bets are on the sailors’ ability to break the 2017 Comanche speed record by one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds over the 1,163 kilometer distance.

The favorite of the quartet of racing goats around 30 meters long with more than 20 sailors on board is the obsolete Comanche, now in the hands of John Winning Jr., from a dynasty of sailors and also skipper. He enlisted former America’s Cup sailor Iain Murray, among others, to help him. In 2014, 2017 and 2019, the Comanche, then under various owners, was the first to cross the line at the end of the Derwent River in Tasmania. She had not competed since her last victory under American billionaires Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant.

Winning knows what it’s like to win in Hobart: he was aboard the supermaxi Perpetual Loyal, which won in 2016 and now competes as Law Connect with a Ukrainian flag in the sail. Sailing legend’s son doesn’t need to show restraint in Sydney: “If the boat doesn’t break and we don’t behave completely stupid, we should reach Tasmania with the chance of a very good result – and that would be victory”. as the first boat,” Winning said in advance. And after the mistakes of others, he actually led the pack as the fleet charged south past Bondi Beach in downwind conditions.

Law Connect owner Christian Beck provided Winning with the template: He said his team only had a chance if Winning and his team made a mistake. However, this year, the Wild Oats, which “Sydney-Hobart” has already won nine times, is also in the running. Long-term winner Richards said in advance that his team cut the Wild Oats for the wind from behind – and that’s exactly what prevailed on Boxing Day. Last year, Black Jack beat its competitor Law Connect.

The Australian ships had won the last four calculated time regattas and 12 of the last 13 races. The three-time winner of this category, Ichi Ban of Australian owner Matt Allen, will not compete this year. It also paves the way for others. Among the challengers are New Zealander TP52 Caro and American Warrior Won. The 38-foot British yacht Sunrise is also considered dangerous by the Australian phalanx.

She brought Australian sailor Adrienne Cahalan aboard, making her the first woman to complete 30 Sydney-Hobart races. The Sydney lawyer was at the start for the first time in 1984, followed by, among other things, three world tours. In recent months, Sunrise not only won the Fastnet race, but also left competitors behind in the Mediterranean and the RORC Caribbean 600. A victory halfway around the world was part of their global trophy portfolio.

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