All the marbles for Two-Handed fleet
Published on December 21st, 2022
The race for Overall victory in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race can often remain wide open for several days and hinge on the slightest and most unexpected shift in weather conditions.
But for the first time, the 2022 edition for the Tattersall Cup will be more open, with entries in the Two-Handed Division now eligible to compete for Overall victory.
The fleet numbers 111 for the race that is organized by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and starts at 1pm on December 26. Of that number, 21 are two-handed entries.
The Two-Handed Division was launched in the 2021 race with a fleet of 17 yachts, but were excluded from winning the Tattersal Cup.
The long-range weather forecast with a northerly wind for the start and the first two days of the race gives every indication that it will be a race for the big boats.
But there is still hope the forecast will change to better suit the mid-sized to smaller boats.
Likely to be in the fray among the smaller boats, should the forecast change, are the two-handed entries like Rupert Henry’s Lombard 34 Mistral and Carlos Aydos’ S&S 34 Crux.
Henry, who is one of the world’s most credentialed sailors in short-handed racing, bought Mistral in early 2021. He is co-skippered by long time friend and sailing partner Greg O’Shea. The pair won the recent Cabbage Tree Island Race overall.
“Double handed is a very important aspect of the sport,” remarks Henry. “Whether a two-handed team can win Overall or not, remains to be seen.
“The two-handed aspect of the sport is growing in Australia, which is really exciting and the CYCA has really accommodated that aspect of the sport over the past couple of years.
“Most of the two-handed boats tend to be at the small end of the fleet because having a smaller boat allows two people to sail the boat to its maximum potential.
“You can sail a larger boat two-handed, but you end up sailing the boat at between 70 and 80, maybe 85 per cent of its true capability.
“So, the fact that the vast majority of the two-handed boats have small boats, means the weather has to align for us to do well on corrected time.”
Interest in two-handed racing is growing. Ed Psaltis, owner/skipper of the Sydney 36 Midnight Rambler, is considering a switch after racing his 40th Sydney Hobart this year.
The 1998 Sydney Hobart winner said: “I was thinking about retirement after this. My body is not getting any younger. My crook knees and other issues are causing me concern.
“It’s either retiring and growing roses, which I don’t really want to do, or potentially [sailing] two- handed.
“I’m not committing to it yet. I just like the whole concept, the simplicity of two-handed sailing and also the challenge, because it’s you and there’s no one else out there.”
Carlos Aydos has owned Crux since 2018 and will co-skipper with Peter Grayson. They placed second in the Two-Handed Division in 2021.
Aydos has since placed second in the Two-Handed Division of the 2022 Flinders Islet Race and more recently they were fourth Overall in the inaugural Tollgate Islands Race.
What is the attraction of two-handed sailing? Aydos says: “Management of a two-handed crew is a lot simpler. Sailing with a full crew is harder in terms of having everyone in sync and pulling a crew together.”
The 628 nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be the 77th edition in 2022 with a fleet of 120 boats. One hundred fifty seven teams set off in 2019, but since then the 2020 race was cancelled due to the pandemic with 88 entries in 2021.
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.