URM Group navigator Alice Parker had “mixed emotions” after the RP72 she navigated to third on line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race this afternoon.
While URM Group secured a line honours podium place, it was unable to finish ahead of the fourth placed RP66 Alive by enough time to move into provisional first place overall.
URM Group, owned by Anthony Johnston, finished the 628 nautical mile race organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCYA) in 2 days 02 hours 07 minutes 19 seconds.
Alive, skippered by Duncan Hine, finished in 2 days 02 hours 19 minutes 09 seconds 04 seconds. That left the two boats in provisional first and second place overall respectively.
“Mixed emotions, I guess,” Parker said when asked how she felt about the outcome.
“It was a tough race. We were kind of neck and neck a lot of time, and then at the end on the Derwent it just came back together.”
But as a navigator, Parker said: “It was a great race to do because there was so much going on. I never really had time off. But you never really do when you’re a navigator.”
Parker had nothing but praise for her opposite on Alive, navigator Adrienne Cahalan, for whom this year’s Sydney Hobart marked a record 31 for women.
Cahalan’s career also includes six line honours victories since her first on Nicorette in 2000, including two ‘triple crowns’ – overall, line honours and race record – on Wild Oats in 2005 and 2012.
Parker admitted that she is “a bit of a fan girl” of Cahalan who has been a pioneer for women’s sailing in Australia and is recognised around the world as one of the best sailors.
Asked how she felt about the navigators of both top performing mini maxis being women, Parker said: “It’s great for women in sport. It also just shows we can get results.”
Pressed on Cahalan, Parker said: “She’s got a huge amount of experience. She’s a very successful navigator. So, well done well done to them [on Alive].”
Cahalan said she only met Parker recently. But she has been impressed by her in a season where URM Group has been so successful.
““There’s a couple of generations there,” Cahalan said. “She’ll be taking my job soon.”
Speaking before it was confirmed that Alive beat URM Group overall, Cahalan added: “She’s really done a great job. We don’t know who’s the best of the two boats, but even if they’ve lost, it’s by a whisker.”
Cahalan agreed that Parker’s progression as a leading navigator delivers a strong message to women who may interested in ocean racing to consider doing so as a navigator.
“Navigating is a good job for women,” Cahalan said. “Not everybody’s built physiologically to carry sails around. It’s a job that suits us. “
Despite her vast experience, Cahalan said this Sydney Hobart was still a “rough” edition.
“We were racing neck and neck with URM the whole way, right from the start line, the whole way down,” she said.
“We were the ones that went out to the east. We had to take a bit of a leap of faith on that one. A lot of the boats didn’t and they stuffed up. It was good.
“We hung in there because it was a really pretty rough race, a lot of reaching and rain. It was a tough one, a full team race and I think our team had the edge on those guys overnight.”
Asked where that edge came, she said: “We have a lot of Volvo sailors and [skipper] Duncan Hine’s been with the boat project for a long time. He knows it completely backwards.
“We had so much experience. Our sails just went up and down in challenging conditions.
“It was a real pleasure to sail with them. As a navigator that makes it easy because you know that if you want to execute a plan that all the deck crew can do that.”
Written by Rupert Guinness | RSHYR Media
Internationally, the race will be available through YouTube on CYCATV or on Facebook Rolex Sydney Hobart page.
For the full list of entries and more information about the race, visit rolexsydneyhobart.com.