Sunfish need a new name

Published on December 26th, 2022

Soon after the fleet of 109 boats began the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on December 26, Louis and Marc Ryckman’s 12m Akilaria RC2 Yeah Baby collided with marine life that can weigh up to 2200 pounds. Here are details from The Western Australian:

Louis Ryckmans says he had dismissed all the tall tales he’d heard about sunfish but has more respect for them now after the incident less than four hours into the race.

“I’ve heard all the stories in this club about people who have had impacts with sunfish and I’ve always thought it was one of the dock stories,” said Ryckmans.

“The boat was fantastic in the conditions and we were looking forward to the stronger conditions thinking that the boat is really going to perform, and we had an impact where my immediate thought was we hit a reef; it was that powerful.

“I happened to be in the back of the boat and turned around and there was a spluttering sunfish in the water that was probably worse for wear.

“The collision impact pushed the back end of the rudder into the hull and it was apparent there was very little we could do.

“On the high list of worries that one has, marine life did not occur to me once.

“Sunfish obviously don’t have their sonar turned on, but it was huge.

“I think the name is incorrect. It’s a sun leviathan, it’s a sun monster, it’s no fish.”

Ryckmans, whose twin brother Marc was also part of the crew of seven, said nothing about the episode had dampened his enthusiasm for the boat, which he only bought six weeks ago and was racing for the first time.

He said It was a last minute decision to enter it for the Sydney to Hobart, and it hadn’t suffered any internal damage.

Ryckmans said the most disappointing thing was the weather forecast felt like a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Yeah Baby, with plenty of downwind sailing.

“We didn’t have a great start out of the harbor, we had a number of mistakes, so we lost time but as soon as we got a kite set outside the heads we were reeling in everybody who had passed us,” Ryckmans said.

“We were feeling very glamorous.”

Race detailsTrackerFacebook

The 628 nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is the 77th edition in 2022 and had a fleet of 109 boats for the start on December 26. 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.

Source: RSHYR

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