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Doctor Who passes the Iron Pot at the entrance to the River Derwent – Combined Club Long Pennant Race - photo © Michelle Denney
Doctor Who passes the Iron Pot at the entrance to the River Derwent – Combined Club Long Pennant Race - photo © Michelle Denney

Golden Rules of the Hobart

Now in particular order, and not a complete set by any means, herewith is a list of the important aspects to remember when reviewing the way to tackle the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

1. He, or she, with the gold makes the rules – So if you don’t like it, step off!

2. In order to finish first, first you have to finish – Well yes. You say it as it is written, and you follow it immediately with ‘Derrrrr Braniac!’ However, it means getting everyone and everything there in working order. It is important because you need all your gear for the various conditions that may occur. You need all your people to share the load, and of course stay within the rules. So out of it all, prudence and foresight seem to be the criterion to have in your mind.

3. To win the Tattersall’s Cup you have to win your division. Huey will then decide which division is to reign supreme that year, so make sure you know who the opposition is, how they sail, and then choose whether you keep yourself between them and the mark, or let them have a mung bean flyer…

4. I’ll tell you who won when they boats are all tied to the quay at Constitution Dock – Always easy then, so when all these reports start flying around with speculation this, and theorem that, just remember this adage.

5. The weather will be exactly what it is as you put your head out the companionway hatch. Never has a truer sentence been put together, so take all the intel, and then remember, it is what it is.

6. There are four starts – Sydney Harbour, Sydney Heads, Tasman Island and the Iron Pot. Yep. So the race is a set of races within itself, and no matter how well you did overnight, the opposition may come up beside you at the Iron Pot, and you’ll wonder what went on. Just remember, this is why you have sleep, even if it is on the rail.

7. Storm Bay is aptly named, but it can also deliver exactly the opposite. Could also be called Agony Bight, so just remember, it is over when you’re in the Customs House.

8. The River Derwent loves to close down at night. Darkness is not a good time to be trying to finish. Happened last year, and there were at least a handful of boats that were all going to finish inside the old race record. So they said, but we indicated otherwise. In the end, only two did. If it happens to you, you will have to find patience, Prudence’s younger sister BTW, and suck it up.

9. It is a 628nm Windward/Leeward. That’s right, so be thankful if you do get to use the kite gear, for there have been many a Hobart where you wondered why it had been clipped on the rail in the first place.

10. The crew that works hardest at night will do best. It’s a little bit like finishing first above, only it is amazing to see how some crews really apply themselves when it is dark, and others shine. No marinas out there, just lots of blue stuff, so get to it.

11. You go out early and come in late. No. It is not a clubbers guide to Hobart, but rather a reference to the East Australia Current. It runs hard out off the coast of NSW, and in the bad old days you used a pool thermometer in a bucket to see if you were there. Might be more sophisticated these days, but it is all still true enough. Funny too how one year you might be wide at the bottom of Tassie and think you have it stitched up, and then angle tightens and tightens as you get closer in. What is with that?

12. Computer generated ETAs are to be taken with a tablespoon of salt. Say no more…

13. WAGS and HABS now know exactly when you arrived, especially with today’s technology, so don’t forget to call before you head to the Customs House

14. You’ll be able to buy cheap wet weather gear at the Customs House in the days after the arrivals, especially in the event of a bad blow. So do have cash, and Tassie now has ATMs, so it is even easier.

15. About every seven years you’re bound to have the complete proverbial kicked out of you. No. Scrap that. On reflection, this appears to be true for pre-2005 era, so we’ll leave that in the yet to be re-confirmed basket for now.

16. Actually another is that you always get a blow, it is just when it arrives, how serious it is, and for how long. This too would appear to be from another era, so we’ll place it in the to be pondered pile for now.

17. Change is a cornerstone of the weather in Australia at this time of year, so anything is possible.

So becoming a bit more serious now, and Number 18 is ‘one hand for you, and one for the boat.’ It is the quintessential remark about safety at sea. It is vital that you check your own gear, and just as importantly, check how it is being applied. In the marine environment it can all go to hell faster than you think.

Talking recently with our President of Oz Sailing, Matt Allen, we looked at the impact of recent incidences out in the open ocean. An overarching element was the need to educate all about the issue of side loading on tether clips. When in line, you can rely on about a two-tonne load. However, if this goes sideways around a horn cleat or caught after leading away from the jack stay, it could be as little as 10% of the full specification.

If you’re taking greenies over the bow, then your body mass will be multiplied super-fast, and your tether clip just will not hold. The sample in the image above is the actual item that was attached to the late Simon Spiers of GBR. Remember, water pressure when you are travelling at 15-20 knots is significant, and easily knock off your feet. Now there are no set rules for the use of tethers, and it will vary from boat to boat, windward to leeward, beam of craft and so on, but it is your job to make sure that your tether gets the best opportunity to work in line!

“The Committee in charge of the Offshore Special Regulations will look at whether we need to improve clips, or increase the education around their use and servicing”, said Allen. You can watch Nic Douglass’ session with Matt and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston below

Allen will be competing with his very new Botin Partners penned 52-footer, Ichi Ban, and says of it, now with his Skipper’s hat on, “We’re a good chance with a favourable forecast. I think the winner is likely to come from the 46 to 52 feet bracket at this stage. We’re slated for an early morning arrival, so that could be advantageous, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

“We are very happy with the new boat, she’s a good all rounder, nice to steer, and easy on the sailors. So far we have been both good down range, and also up range, so with the middle type strength wind forecast we’ll certainly have to stay on our toes. The evolution of the design of this style of craft (derivation of the 52 Super Series vessels) means she is reasonably dry, well as much as you can be over when hurtling along at over 15 knots.”

Ichi Ban is running an all North Sails wardrobe, and Allen finished by saying, “The boat has been a lot of fun across the board. The 27th looks like it will be fast, so we cannot wait to hook into that!”

So then, Merry Christmas to all. As this little ditty gets finished, Dongfeng was coming into Melbourne in time for Xmas lunch. The entire Sail-World/Yachts and Yachting team wish you all the very best in happiness, fun and safety. Should you be looking for presents, under our Christmas Tree we have heaps of presents for you. There are images from Andrea Francolini, videos from Dale Lorimer, AC news (tales and strategems), Deborah Dalziel explains her MySail Team to you, the VOR, ESS, A Class Cats, L2H, 420s, Pittwater to Paradise on January second, and remember the Pantaenius Newport to Coffs Coast Race is the next cab off the rank on December 27, building your own Moth, the glorious SuperFoilers, F101 tri, more from Gabart, Bekking remembers Spikey, and much, much more.

Remember, if your class or association is generating material, make sure we help you spread your word, and you can do that by emailing us. Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world…

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS

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