Change of plans

Maritimo will not compete in this year’s RSHYR, but will instead sail their Schumacher 54, Maritimo 11 to Portsea for the Melbourne to Hobart Westcoaster Race, 27 December.

21 December 2022


Helmed by skipper, Michael Spies, Maritimo 11 (USA 16) and her plucky crew are setting off today from Maritimo’s base at Hope Island Marina bound for Portsea on the Mornington Peninsula – a journey of 860 nautical miles likely to take four or five days.

The Schumacher 54 replaces the team’s TP52, also named Maritimo 11, which was damaged in rough conditions during the delivery voyage to Sydney, Friday 16 December.

After a gruelling 18 hours battling a 3-metre swell and winds up to 40 knot at times, they pulled into Coffs Harbour and inspected the yacht for damage to her hull and instruments. When the floorboards were removed, some minor cracking of the secondary tabbing on the longitudinal frame in front of the mast was detected.

Peter Britt (15 Sydney Hobart Races) Maritimo 11 crew member and formerly a boat builder at McConaghy Boats, discovered the issue.


While Peter deemed this relatively simple to fix under normal circumstances, given Maritimo 11 was poised to embark on the 630 nautical mile (1,167 kilometre) Race, they made the call that there was too great a risk to the crew to proceed with repairs and continue their plan to race.

The crew returned to the Gold Coast and immediately began to rig and prepare their last year’s entry, a Schumacher 54, also called Maritimo 11, which Michael Spies helmed to 11th place overall and narrowly missing a victory in the 52-foot grand prix racing yachts class.

Originally launched as Swiftsure II, the Schumacher 54 was dominant under various measurement systems in San Francisco, winning the Rolex Big Boat Series an unprecedented eight times, among many other high-profile races and regattas.

This Maritimo 11 (Schumacher 54) was one of the first entries in the 2022 edition, its entry lodged on the first day entries opened in April 2022. When the TP52 arrived and was prepared in time to enter, the USA 16 entry was withdrawn on 1 December.

Skipper Michael Spies made a submission to the RSHYR Organising Authority (OA) to replace the damaged TP52 with the Shumacher 54, but their request was denied.

Maritimo requested that the case be considered by the International Jury of the 2022 RSHYR. The five-person panel comprised David Tillet AUS NJ – Chairman, Jamie Sutherland NZL IJ/NU, Richard Slater AUS IJ/IU, Russell Green NZL NJ/IU, and Phillip Mazard FRA IJ/NU.

The Jury made the decision that the Schumacher 54 could not replace the damaged TP52.

The International Jury cited the conditions of the Notice of Race (NoR) which “makes a clear and unambiguous rule that a determination of the OA as to the eligibility criteria for entry is final and binding”.

“The OA holds the rights to the Race as well as a significant duty of care. The Jury recognises this duty of care of the OA and is guided by the NoR 5 in that the decision regarding eligibility should be at the sole discretion of the OA.

“The owner/person in charge decided to withdraw USA 16 from the Race. While this may have resulted from suggestions from the OA, the decision to withdraw the entry was made by the person in charge of USA 16 and this person was someone with significant ocean racing experience (including 44 times in this race). The decision to withdraw the initial entry was the fault of the owner/person in charge.”

Speaking in response to the decision, Maritimo founder, Bill Barry-Cotter said, “Of course we are disappointed, and Michael and crew are extremely disheartened given their preparation and anticipation of the 2022 edition of what is considered the world’s most challenging yacht races.

“We accept the Jury’s decision and we move on. Michael and the crew immediately took up the offer from Melbourne to Hobart Race Director, Jeremy Walton for Maritimo 11 to participate in the ‘Westcoaster’.”

The Maritimo 11 crew of 14 has an impressive tally of 198 Rolex Sydney Hobart Races among them.

Jeremy Walton commented, “It’s our 50th edition of the Westcoaster, and we’re moving fast to work with Michael and his team to get the boat entered and all the compliance work done to make sure they are on the Melbourne to Hobart start line come December 27.”

“We have some strong boats in the fleet which will no doubt provide some great racing.”

Run by ORCV, the Melbourne to Hobart “Westcoaster” is a 435 nautical mile race that takes yachts across Bass Strait and down the west coast of Tasmania before rounding Australia’s southernmost point in the Southern Ocean and heading up the Derwent River to Hobart.

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