SYDNEY HOBART ROUND-UP 

Welcome to our Special Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Round-Up. We have exclusive takes from the skippers Mark Richards, Jim Cooney and Matt Allen following one of the most controversial races in years, plus many more features to enjoy.

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Editor’s Letter

After an acceptable amount of post-race celebratory indulgence, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2017 has forced some challenging introspection.

In the corresponding wrap-up issue last year, I boldly predicted that Perpetual Loyal’s record “could be among the last in the pre-foiling era.”

So much for that piece of precognition.

The 73rd race defied all logic, as an even more favourable confluence of wind systems propelled five boats to Hobart faster than Loyal. Those who were there for the sleigh rides of 1975 and 1999 agreed that 2017 should be added to the list of absolute glamour runs.

This of course begs the question, after two such years, what will 2018 be like?

I, for one, am anticipating (not predicting), a return to more “traditional” race conditions. Expect more detailed investigation of this vexed topic over the intervening period between now and Boxing Day.

There is, apparently, a big question mark over whether Wild Oats XI will line up for another Rolex Sydney Hobart start. It’s completely understandable given the acrid disappointment of appearing to clinch the sweetest of line honours wins, only to have the triumph dissolve in the protest room.

There’s no question that Oats infringed, but the jury’s decision must have been an extremely bitter pill to swallow. In this issue, Mark Richards graciously recounts how even the world’s best sailors can make a collective mistake.

I sincerely hope the Oatley family decide that the boat’s Rolex Sydney Hobart racing career doesn’t end on such a note.

Our congratulations go to LDV Comanche for the way they sailed, and especially to Jim Cooney for the measured and thoughtful approach he took in relation to the protest. It reflected the values of fairness and accountability that we like to think are the best attributes of our sport. We also hear from Jim on Comanche’s white-knuckle, express ride south.

We applaud the fantastic achievement of Matt Allen and the crew of Ichi Ban as a yardstick of skill, preparation and perseverance. Their overall win was completely deserved, and the inclusive way they acknowledged the outpouring of congratulations was equally impressive.

That sense of shared accomplishment was present on every boat that pulled into Constitution Dock, including SailDNA, which I crewed on. Like everyone we blew out our fair share of kites, survived a few out-of-control moments, and were genuinely awed and humbled by the beauty of our surroundings.

Our thanks go to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Rolex, and all the volunteers, as well as the unknown well-wishers whose spontaneous cheers greeted us in Hobart.

There’s a season of autumn racing to look forward to, and for me, the opportunity to broaden my experience to other classes, and make new friends doing so.

See you on the water.

SCOTT ALLE

Editor Sails Magazine