Here is the third part of my series looking at the contenders for the upcoming Sydney to Hobart 2015.
Today I will look at the Tattersall’s Cup for the overall handicap winner.
While the majority of the public and media attention will be on the Supermaxis and Maxis as they streak towards Hobart, the real race is actually further back in the fleet among the 40-60 foot yachts – the race for handicap honours.
The Cup is officially known as the George Adams Tattersall Cup named after the founder of Tattersall’s Lotteries, George Adams, being first awarded in 1946.
For sailors this is the real race, because technically any yacht in the fleet can win it providing they sail well.
In reality the winner will most likely come from a newish yacht in the 40-60 foot range. The overall handicap winner will be determined under the IRC handicapping system.
In the Sydney to Hobart Race there will be five IRC divisions, with yachts being allocated to a division depending on a variety of factors such as size, age and design.
As I began to write this article, I was prepared to pick out a number of the 50-60 footers as being the most likely to win on handicap.
Having seen the long range weather forecast, my thoughts of Balance, Chinese Whisper or Ichi Ban being leading candidates to win the Tattersall Cup went out of the window.
At this stage the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a strong southerly with wind speeds of 50 knots to hit the fleet during the first night. After that the models disagree, with some saying it will calm down, others indicating conditions will worsen into Bass Strait.
If that is the case, then the 71st Sydney to Hobart Race may well become a war of attrition, opening the gate for some of the older, slower but sturdier yachts to take the prize.
The disparity of the forecast must be causing Ichi Ban skipper Matt Allen a few sleepless nights.
You see there are 2 Ichi Bans, one a JV52 the other a Carkeek 60, and he has to decide which one is going to start.
If the conditions lighten after the first southerly, the JV52 will possibly be the better choice. If the conditions are at the worst end of the forecast, then the 60 footer might be the better option. Choices, choices!
With the forecast as it is, this is going to be a very difficult race to predict in terms of handicap at this stage.
For the casual observer, it would be prudent to keep an eye on Paul Clitheroe’s Farr TP 52, Balance, Rupert Henry’s JV 62, Chinese Whisper, and Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, whichever one sails!
If it all goes pear shaped in terms of the forecast, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have the first back-to-back winner on handicap since Freya in 1965, with Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose repeating last year’s win. She is built for heavy conditions.
As the forecast firms before the start, I will be making a few predictions of how I see the race going both in terms of line honours and overall handicap.