Sydney Hobart: Honors for inaugural Two-Handed division

Published on December 31st, 2021

Hobart, Australia (December 31, 2021) – The inaugural Two-Handed division of the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race had 17 starters among the 88 teams, with Tasmanians John Saul and Rob Gough claiming line honors in 4 days 7 hours 12 minutes at 8:12:00pm on December 30.

Sailing the Akilaria RC2 Sidewinder in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 628 nautical mile race, the duo embraced the historic significance for Australian sailing. “For the CYCA and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania to absorb two-handed racing is fantastic,” said Saul. “You see so much of it over in Europe, but to see it catch on in Australia is great.”

Akilaria RC2 Sidewinder designed by Frenchman Marc Lombard.

Claiming overall honors for the shorthanded competitors was Jules Hall and Jan ‘Clogs’ Scholten on the J/99 Disko Trooper (top photo), finishing at 3:01:42am this morning. While the prestigious Tattersall Cup for IRC corrected time honors was limited to crewed entrants, their effort will receive the race’s first ever two-handed trophy, awarded to the winner on IRC.

They have also won ORCi overall, and if Crux (Carlos Aydos and Peter Grayson) doesn’t finish by 7:52:30pm tonight, then Hall and Scholten will also win PHS overall. Not bad for two Laser sailors, although Scholten is well-respected in yachting circles, both offshore and inshore.

Hall has now done five Sydney Hobarts, Scholten 19, and is a gun trimmer of note – that’s what sail makers and sailcloth makers are good at.

Hall’s boat is called Disko Trooper for Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous lead character, Disko Troop, and was sponsored by Scholten’s company Contender Sailcloth.

They were among the favorites to win the Two-Handed Division in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, and they have not disappointed. Here are their post race remarks:

Jules: “We run a very structured program. We had a goal, and the goal was to win this race. We broke down the jobs. How we need to sail, how we need to navigate, how we needed to resource the boat. Then came the nutrition and psychology.

“We wanted to win the Sydney Hobart, so [it was about] what did we need to do to sail our best race?”

Clogs: “Jules had taken on the old ‘the buck stops with me’. At the end of the day, you collaborate.

“I refreshed my own memory and my own experience. I wisened up a lot on the use of PredictWind to help. We chose something similar but simpler to Expedition for navigation, so I downloaded and practiced.”

Jules: “I have done a bit of navigation, but a long time ago. The interesting point, unique to each two-handed boat, is that some boats have navigation skills, some have boat building skills, some have steering skills etc. But at the same time, you have to be able to fix the boat, manage it and branch out from your comfort zone.”

Clogs: “Communications, preparations for that, with HF radio etc. is also important.”

On doing the race two-handed…

Clogs: “Before we went, I thought ‘I don’t have a contract, I could still say ‘stuff this!’ but I couldn’t do that to Jules.”

Jules: “I rang Clogs last August to see if he would consider.”

Clogs: “For me it was ‘do I have the energy and time’. I did a 100-mile race two-handed with him and came home buggered. So, I said we had to do the Blue Water Pointscore to get ready, so we did. Cabbage Tree Island was good.”

Jules: “No, it wasn’t, because we made mistakes. But it was good we could then prepare. It was perfect.”

Clogs: “We started more than a year ago and I’m still asking, ‘what could I do that I didn’t do?’”

Jules: “We got along OK, no problems between us. We stepped out to be the best we could. I feel we didn’t leave anything on the table.

“The results will speak for themselves. I found it rewarding. There are some exceptional sailors in this fleet. I feel honored to come out so well in this competition. I feel very fortunate.”

How do they feel at the end of the race?

Clogs: “I think I have a friendship here with Jules for life – and I trust him. I know can go down and sleep and trust him that I will be OK.

“A lot of money, investment and safety was involved in preparing. I enjoyed the lead-up and making the boat ready. I enjoyed being forced to learn new things and I enjoyed the adventure. We had the unknown.”

Jules: “We ran a watch system – we learned we had to do that in the Cabbage Tree Island Race – we hadn’t had a watch system for that race.

“Having said that, we had to hand steer most of the way (628 nautical miles worth). I didn’t want to admit it to myself, but you are basically sailing single-handed to Hobart.

“Seventy-five miles offshore in the pitch black, you are there on your own not being able to see while your co-skipper is off watch.

“I would definitely do the race again with Clogs, yes. And it’s definitely really special to be part of the inaugural event.”

Among the 88 total starters, 38 teams retired along the course. The fully crewed teams accounted for 31 while the 2-handed division, with 17 entrants, had seven that failed to finish.

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The 628 nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be the 76th edition in 2021 with a fleet of 88 boats that include three international entries. One hundred fifty seven teams set off in 2019 for the 75th edition, but since then the 2020 race was cancelled due to the pandemic and uncertainty has hovered this year.

From the start in Sydney Harbour, the fleet sails out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait (which divides the mainland from the island State of Tasmania), then down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to the historic port city of Hobart.

Source: RSHYR

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