When he stepped aboard his new VO70 Wizard with his brother Peter just days before the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart, American David Askew had never stepped onto one of these legendary ocean warhorses before. Now he has seen just what they can do.
This was an ideal Hobart for these big, powerful cross wind and broad reaching boats, especially when the winds really picked up along the Tasmanian coast on Wednesday. “Wizard did not disappoint,” Askew says. “We had one minor incident when we destroyed the A3 spinnaker, but other than that, the boat performed flawlessly, and the crew performed flawlessly. It’s a pleasure to be on a boat that can take anything you throw at her.
“You can push this type of boat a lot harder than any other boat I’ve sailed. But it taught me you have to decide how hard you want to push, because this is a risk/reward situation. These boats are so fast they sail into the trough in front, with all this sail trying to drive you deeper. You have to do your homework.”
Wizard finished sixth across the line, behind the four super maxis and the 80-foot maxi Beau Geste, and two hours faster than when she was one of three to beat the race record and won the race last year as Giacomo. And she missed out by just 13 minutes on joining the flotilla of yachts that shattered Perpetual Loyal’s 2016 race record. It has been that kind of race.
“I have never done an offshore race like this,” says Askew. “This was so full on and physically taxing. Everyone had to work so hard and pay attention every minute. Going upwind is not very physical. You are in a mode and locked in.
Going downwind is quite dynamic. You have to be aggressive at the wheel. It takes its toll. We were switching steerers every hour. You really couldn’t take any more. Plus, you’re getting fire-hosed constantly. You are underwater half the time. It’s gruelling,” he acknowledges.
“This is a fantastic race. One thing that blows me away is the enthusiasm of all the people, first at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in Sydney and now here in Hobart. People are truly interested in what sailing is about. In the States sailing is seen as the sport of the super-rich, and it is looked down upon. It’s quite nice here to feel proud to be in this sport.”
Wizard is off to the US soon, to do the Newport Bermuda, Caribbean 600, TransAtlantic and Fastnet races.
So will the brothers ever be back for another Hobart? “Why not? I always liked the idea of doing the Tahiti race from the West Coast, and that would get us half way here.”
by Jim Gale/RSHYR Media