THE RETURN

The fastest supermaxi in the world in the right conditions, Comanche is back to stamp her authority on the race.

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Editor’s Letter

Drill down into the dynamics of ocean racing, and take-outs will include leadership, teamwork, communication and shared accomplishment. But out on the ocean,  there’s a little … je ne sais quoi.

Denis Perkins, author of Into the storm: Lessons in Teamwork from the treacherous Sydney to Hobart Ocean Race and an expert on teams under stress, became a little obsessed and decided to do a Hobart himself, dryly observing that there was “no substitute for hands-on experience”.

The management model analysis is worthy and all, but for those of us whose thoughts on the rail stray more to Shelley and Tennyson, we tend to appreciate the raw, visceral, elemental beauty of the tableaux – sea, sky and wind – when we point the bow south. 

Offshore racing seeps into your veins; literally gets absorbed through your pores. Or, as Zoe Taylor, skipper of G.O. explains: “Heartache. That’s really why I came back. I never stopped yearning for the sea; every time I saw a boat on the horizon my heart would sink that I wasn’t out there.”

Like Zoe, I’m hugely looking forward to Boxing Day. This will be my 14th trip south in the great race, this time aboard SailDNA. And whether it is your first Rolex Sydney Hobart, or your 40th, I can guarantee that every one of the 1300 hundred or so sailors lining-up on the start line will at some stage ask themselves, Why do it?

Those who have shivered through a long night tethered to a bucking deck, with every tenth or so wave breaking right on their head will have weighed up their level of committment and decided. As have the rookies, who afterward describe the race as the best – and worst – experience of their lives. Why?

Well in the words of one of the Hobart’s great characters, Tasmanian John Benetto: “Because we choose to.”

And we are not alone. The 2017 fleet is studded with yachting history. Dorade, the revered S&S yawl that set the course of modern ocean racing will be there, along with Kialoa II, the 1971 line honours winner from the famous stable of maxis owned by Jim Kilroy.

I’m especially heartened to see the all-female crew, skippered by Lisa Blair, building on the legacy of Victoria Sipajlo and that first group of intrepid and courageous women in 1975 who proved the deckchair chauvinists so spectacularly wrong.

Congratulations go to Tony Ellis, who will pull the sea boots on for the 50th time. Anyone who has sailed with ‘Grumpy’ knows that his consummate seamanship skills and general qualities as a human make him an asset on any boat.

Another milestone this year is former editor of Offshore Yachting magazine, Peter Campbell, signing-off with his final Rhumbline. Thank you, Peter, for your unstinting commitment to upholding the highest standards of yachting journalism.

And once again, on behalf of the sailors, our sincere thanks go to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, the crew of JBW, the volunteers at the coastal patrol bases, and all the club officials and supporters who work tirelessly to make the Rolex Sydney Hobart such a unique event.

Good sailing.

SCOTT ALLE

Editor Sails Magazine