Sydney Hobart: First Woman to 25

Published on December 28th, 2016

unnamed(December 29, 2016; 09:45 AEDT) – Adrienne Cahalan, Australia’s most celebrated yachtswoman, has arrived in Hobart aboard the Brenton Fischer skippered TP52 Ragamuffin, to cement her place as the first woman ever to compete in 25 Sydney Hobart Yacht Races.

And like all the others, this 25th race has been a mixed bag. No real terrors this year, and mercifully brief time working to windward, but if ever there was a race of two halves this has been it.

Blisteringly fast running and reaching most of the first half, and frustratingly slow in the second half for yachts in the 50 to 65 foot range.

“I prayed for an exciting race and this was that,” Cahalan says. “We knew there were going to be some tricky bits, particularly at the end. It was fast, wet and wild at first, particularly on these boats.”

Unfortunately it was a little too fast for one crucial moment on the first night. Ragamuffin dove into a wave and emerged with a shredded spinnaker.

“After that, we were playing catch-up, but without that sail we were down a couple of knots. We worked hard though, and eventually recovered.

“Actually we were quite happy with the second half of the race, it suited us. We sailed well through the transition zones and caught back some time. Because we had that sail problem, we missed the gate into Bass Strait, and after that there were three distinct fleets.

“It’s worked well for me before – and sometimes it hasn’t, but I’m philosophical – some of it is out of your control.”

Cahalan feels for her former team mates on Wild Oats XI, forced to retire.

“Anyone who retires, it is a terrible feeling. It makes you sick in the stomach. The Oatley family put a lot of time and effort into that boat.”

She describes this 72nd Rolex Sydney Hobart as a classic big boat race and having raced on both Wild Oats XI and Perpetual LOYAL she is happy for Anthony Bell.

“I was disappointed they took the record, because that was mine,” she smiles. Cahalan navigated Wild Oats XI to her 2005 and 2012 records.

Around midday yesterday, Ragamuffin parked herself off Tasman Light while her rivals parked in Storm Bay, but eventually they got going again. By taking a very unusual route close to Bruny Island they managed to creep up the flaccid Derwent without another stop.

“It was a long trip, but quite a good trip. Obviously the first night didn’t go as planned but we’re here. We enjoyed the race and we thought we sailed well in the second half of the race.”

And now that she has completed 25, what does she think about, say, Tony Cable’s passing 50 this year?

“I’m not that mad,” Cahalan laughs.

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The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, organized by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia with the co-operation of Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, is the ultimate test for skippers, tacticians and crews. The 2016 race is the 72nd edition of this 628 nautical mile, time-honoured and classic offshore race.

With 88 yachts competing for the Tattersall’s Cup and coveted Rolex timepiece awarded to the overall winner, this year’s contest looks set to uphold the reputation of this renowned event. The race starts at 13:00 AEDT on December 26, 2016.

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Source: Jim Gale, RSHYR media

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