A fleet of 119 will line up for the Boxing Day start of the 70th edition of the legendary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – considered among the world’s most significant blue water races.
Beneteau will have twelve yachts competing in this milestone year, the highest representation of production yachts. They include seven entries from New South Wales, two from Tasmania and one entry each from South Australia, Queensland and Victoria.
Among the Beneteau owners are Jacinta Cooper and David Redfern, already anticipating the challenges both physical and mental they will face down the coast and across Bass Strait.
Jacinta will skipper her Beneteau 57 Mistraal, she and her husband Brett returning after an absence of 20 years. The couple, active sailors from Hobart, entered Mistraal in the Cruising Division. They are both familiar with the demands of coastal cruising, having sailed to Hamilton Island Race Week and competed in Magnetic Island Race Week, but they acknowledge that the Sydney Hobart is in a league of its own. “We have sailed regularly together and we’re very comfortable with the boat and each other,” says Jacinta.
“But we are realistic enough to understand that the journey south at that time of year can involve massive swells and winds. Mistraal is our third Beneteau and we are confident it will handle anything Mother Nature throws at us. The rest is up to our skills!”
David Redfern is preparing for his first Sydney-Hobart and will helm his Beneteau First 40 Not A Diamond, leading a crew of experienced sailors and competing in IRC Division 3.
Not A Diamond was delivered in November 2012 by Spirit Marine International at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show.
As David explains: “The original plan was to use the boat as a WAGS racer, not stage a full on campaign. But we had some success and got a taste for it.” Not A Diamond won its first WAGS race in 2013 before heading to Hamo in 2013 and 2014 and putting up a competitive campaign.
“I never thought I’d do a Sydney-Hobart, but we have put together a pretty good crew, which has campaigned together quite extensively. Half our crew have done the race, the other half haven’t, but have solid ocean racing experience.
“We’ve been prepping the boat all season. Ten guys on a 40-foot yacht requires meticulous planning. We need to be nimble with the ability to react and respond to whatever is thrown at us. We have new sails and strengthened the rigging. Hopefully, we haven’t left any stone unturned. Now is as good a time as ever!”
Not A Diamond’s crew includes sailing master, Neil Harrison who hails from Hillarys Boat Harbour in WA and is owner of a Beneteau First 35. Navigator Stuart Reader has sailed with Not A Diamond since its launch and has learnt a lot on the job over the past two years. Trimmers Matt Williams and Duane Smith, as well as bowman Fred Kinsman will be undertaking their second Sydney-Hobart after competing on a Beneteau First 40 Blunderbuss in 2012.
David says that while his first priority is to make it to Constitution Dock safely and in one piece, he hopes to put up a good challenge to the other First 40s and similar sized boats in the race. “I believe we have the crew to give it a shake!”