The warm-up races for the 36th America’s Cup kicked off last week in Auckland, New Zealand, with barely a whimper despite Team New Zealand defending the cup it won in Bermuda in 2017 in the familiar surrounds of the Hauraki Gulf.
After yesterday looking over the contenders among the Supermaxis, part two in the series looks at the Maxis in the 69th Sydney to Hobart, starting on Boxing Day 2013.
2. The Maxis
There is a much larger than usual contingent of Maxis in this years race.
A total of 18 are scheduled to start on Boxing Day with the fleet having been given a significant boost by the inclusion of the Sydney to Hobart as a leg in the Clipper Round the World Race. This has put an additional 12 maxis in the race.
1. Brindabella, Skipper Bill Sykes
2. Beau Geste, Skipper Karl Kwok
3. Giacomo, Skipper Jim Delegat
4. Black Jack, Skipper Peter Harburg
5. Nikata, Skipper Tom Brewer
6. Southern Excellence II, Skipper Andrew Wenham
The Clipper Fleet
1. Derry-Londonderry-Doire, Skipper Sean McCarter
2. GREAT Britain, Skipper Simon Talbot
3. Henri Lloyd, Skipper Eric Holden
4. Invest Africa, Skipper Richard Gould
5. Jamaica Get All Right, Skipper Peter Stirling
6. Mission Performance, Skipper Matthew Mitchell
7. Old Pulteney, Skipper Martin Van Der Zijdan
8. One DLL, Skipper Oliver Cotterell
9. PSP Logistics, Skipper Christopher Hollis
10. Qingdao, Skipper Gareth Glover
11. Switzerland, Skipper Victoria Ellis
12. Team Garmin, Skipper Mark Burkes
Before we look at who may push the Supermaxis in terms of Line Honours, a quick word about the Clipper Fleet.
The Clipper Round the World Race is a unique event and opportunity for anyone who has an interest in sailing or adventure. The race pits 12 identical yachts each skippered by a professional sailor, but the crews are all amateur.
In fact anyone can apply to become a crew member.
The Clipper Race was founded in 1995 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and William Ward, both of whom will be going south to Hobart on a couple of the older Clipper racers, CV10 and CV5.
Although it would be an unlikely win, with amateurs racing against some of the most professional sailing teams ever gathered for a Sydney to Hobart, it should be remembered that these crews have gained vast experience since they started in London on September 1.
I would be very surprised to see one of these yachts at the head of the fleet into Hobart, but they will have an interesting race between themselves.
Of the other contenders in this group the real challengers will be the Volvo 70’s Giacomo, Black Jack and Southern Excellence II, along with my dark horse, Beau Geste.
For the nostalgic it would be nice to think that the old stager Brindabella could be up there with the best of them. Unfortunately she is now totally outclassed by the newer, more high tech yachts.
Most of the yachts in this group will probably finish ahead of her, but if the weather is on the nose all the way south, she may push for divisional handicap honours.
Like Zefiro in the Supermaxis, Nikata is a cruiser/racer taking part in her first Sydney to Hobart. She is unlikely to feature in the placings, but the ride south is sure to be one of the more comfortable in the fleet – this Swan 82 features 4 luxury cabins, and it’s usual life is as a charter vessel in the Mediterranean and Carribean.
On to the four yachts that may push the Supermaxis to Hobart. The three Volvo 70s have all competed in the Volvo Ocean Race – Southern Excellence II in 2005/6 as Brunel, Giacomo and Black Jack in 2011/12 as Groupama (the overall winner) and Telefonica respectively.
Giacomo appears to be the stand out. During the first CYCA Trophy Series race last Saturday she outsprinted Wild Oats XI to the heads, with skipper Jim Delegat reporting that Giacomo hit a speed of 20 in all wind conditions she encountered.
Given the correct conditions she is a real threat to the big two.
And so to the dark horse, Beau Geste. At 80 feet she is some 20 feet shorter than the two leading contenders, and whilst in sailing size does matter in terms of overall boat speed, my mail is that this yacht is an absolute flying machine.
Owned and skippered by previous Hobart winner Karl Kwok, Beau Geste has been designed and built to the latest standards and innovations with races like the Sydney to Hobart in mind.
Will she beat the big two? We will have to wait and see. She left New Zealand for Sydney on Tuesday so hopefully we will get to see her in action before the big day to judge for ourselves.
Given the right conditions I am tipping that an upset could be on the cards.