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69th Sydney to Hobart wrap: Victoire takes overall honours

CYCA Trophy Series 2013 - Wild Oats XI chases Giacomo (Image: Mark Richmond)
Roar Guru
30th December, 2013
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The Sydney to Hobart’s two main trophies have been run and won, but spare a thought for those 20 or so smaller yachts and their hard working crews who are still at sea.

Some, like Déjà Vu and 41 Sud, are not expected to finish until New Year’s Day. These are the crews that make this event what it is.

They realise they have little chance of winning, but they still head out each year – sometimes in appalling conditions – just to compete in their chosen sport.

Well done, I say. And in these days of professional sport, they are showing us all what sport can be… fun, and just because it’s there.

And so to the final results.

The John Illingworth Trophy for line honours was taken by Wild Oats XI for a record equalling seventh time. Second was Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal, and third Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100.

It was a heck of a feat by Fischer, completing his 45th Hobart race aged 86. Great to hear also that Bell has confirmed he will be back next year to give it another shot.

For the Tattersall’s Cup, and the overall handicap win, Daryl Hodkinson’s Victoire is confirmed as winner, with Phil Sempfendorfer’s Veloce in second and Sam Haynes’ Celestial in third.

So where was the race won?

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The expected challenge from the dark horse Beau Geste died, along with the wind, on the first night. She and several other challengers where caught in what sailors call a hole – an area where there was absolutely no wind, or at best very light winds.

She had been following Wild Oats close to the rhumb line, but not close enough to allow her to avoid the light winds.

Perpetual Loyal and Giacomo went further out where there were better winds and current, which allowed Loyal to steal a march on Wild Oats.

Unfortunately for Loyal, the forecast 15-20 knot nor’easter on day two never materialised. As she is a heavier boat than her main rival, it was always going to be almost impossible for her to keep up in the prevailing conditions.

As an aside, even if Beau Geste had been within striking distance on day two, the conditions were not ideal for her either. The same can be said for the Volvo 70s, Giacomo and Black Sheep.

In terms of the handicap race, it all came down to the timing of the arrival of the So’westerly change on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

This is always the way it is in yacht racing – some parts of the fleet will get a weather advantage at some stage, you just have to have your vessel in the best position to be able to take advantage.

The later the change arrived, the more it favoured the smaller yachts.

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In fact, if it had arrived an hour or so later than it did, then first and second positions in the Tattersall’s Cup would have been reversed – even my pick of Patrice would have been in with a shout, though unfortunately she had already retired with hull damage.

If it had arrived an hour or so earlier then Varuna, who finished fourth, may have taken it out. Such are the vagaries of offshore ocean racing.

We also saw what the sea and Mother Nature can do to some of these well prepared yachts.

Wedgetail lost her mast when rounding Tasman Island, several yachts including the Clipper Race leader Henri Lloyd had rudder damage, and whilst all crews are safe at this stage, Ben Renshaw – a member of the Victorian yacht Rush – suffered a break to his lower leg and had to be airlifted to hospital.

So where to from here? Next year is the 70th race, and traditionally these landmark year races attract a large fleet.

We won’t have the the Clipper Fleet next year, but we do know that Wild Oats will be back to try and crack a record-breaking eighth line honours title, matching up once again with Loyal.

Hopefully Syd Fischer is persuaded to give it another crack on Ragamuffin 100. I hope we see Beau Geste back next year to show us what she can really do, along with a yacht I think performed above and beyond in the conditions and certainly surprised me – Black Jack.

She could be a real smokey next year, if the conditions are in her favour.

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