Sydney Hobart: The cruel seas
Published on December 28th, 2015
Sydney, Australia (December 28, 2015) – For Ragamuffin and Rambler it has been a frustrating night – they should have arrived in Hobart in darkness – instead they wallowed under the black gloom of Tasman Island, waiting for the sun to rise.
The golden rule of the Rolex Sydney Hobart is get across Storm Bay and up the Derwent River before midnight. The Derwent is a country girl. She doesn’t like to stay up too late.
Even as Comanche glided towards Hobart late last night, the breeze was petering out, the last miles covered in fits and starts as little gusts delivered a tantalizing burst of speed then wafted away again. For her defeated rivals still off Tasman Island, the Derwent message was clear.
“Relax, chill out, you’re not seeing Hobart any time soon. I am going to give you all night to contemplate what might have been”.
The two wounded boats, both with smashed daggerboards, drifted just yards apart, the wags on Ragamuffin 100 whiling away the time Face Booking. “The tide is turning, should we put out the anchor? Passing the Iron Pot, hope there are some scallop pies left.”
They needn’t have worried, the pie shop would be well open, a new batch of pies in the oven by the time they tied up.
Further back up the coast and deep into Bass Strait the scene was similar. Not much breeze and parking lots everywhere.
“We just resorted to a round of chocolate biscuits to console ourselves after downloading the latest GFC weather forecast,” Wild Rose navigator Jenifer Wells emailed this morning.
“The high system is predicted to slow, adding an extra 25 hours to our ETA. Even the crew who were challenged by sea sickness in the big seas and 30 knot plus winds are not sure which conditions they prefer.”
This is what the Hobart specializes in. Bashing you about the ears for hours on end and then boring you to death. It is the cruelest of races at times.
The wind is expected to pick up around Tasmania today, pushing the mid-sized boats home at long last. The drifter has dissolved any chance Rambler had of winning on handicap, but a host of boats, of all sizes, remain in contention.
The French Archambault 13 Teasing Machine is in the lead. She’s been up around the top of the ladder for 12 hours. Then there are a couple of TP52s, Ragamuffin 52 and Balance, Rush, a Farr 45, Imagination, a Beneteau 47 cruiser racer and the 60 foot grand prix yachts, Chinese Whisper and Ichi Ban – locked into a battle of their own since early in the race.
What happens off Tasmania today will most likely decide the winner of the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart. Almost certainly the victor will be tied up in Hobart well before sunset, because this evening the wind will die again, and stay comatose throughout tomorrow.
By Jim Gale, RSHYR media
Background: The 71st edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starts December 26 in Sydney Harbor, taking an entry list of 109 boats along the 628 nautical mile course to Hobart that is often described as the most grueling long ocean race in the world.