After a long wait of almost exactly a day and a half, Paul Clitheroe and his crew on the TP52 Balance could finally celebrate. When it became obvious that the S&S34 Quickpoint Azzurro had fallen victim to the calm that descends on the Derwent River every night, no other yacht still sailing could reach Battery Point in time to deny the Money Man his victory.
This morning he said: “It’s an absolute honour to win this great race. I thought the little boat had beaten us, until the Derwent River decided otherwise.
“When you put a dumbo like me on a boat as good as this, it’s easy to win. In fact Greeny and Brownie are relieved when I leave the helm,” Clitheroe said, understating his value. “The CYCA does a fantastic job of organizing the race and making sure everyone is safe. I thank the sponsor, Rolex and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, all the volunteers and everyone involved – it is a mammoth exercise. And to my crew; Greeny and Brownie are two of the best – and the rest of the crew who do an outstanding job.”
Of the conditions, the Sydney yachtsman said: “We had the hell beaten out of us on the first night and then it was pretty light in Bass Strait. The boat would launch into the air in the first 24 hours and you would count one, then two and if you get to three, (a crew member interjects: ‘You get the cheque book out’.”
Clitheroe had a fall on the boat and hurt his back, and was aware of others in the race who came off second best, including Black Jack’s owner Peter Harburg who broke a leg, and Victoire owner Darryl Hodgkinson, who cracked ribs.
“What other sport do you know of where competitors stop and help others in trouble? We have a great sport and I’m lucky to be involved in it,” he said.
Clitheroe was convinced Quikpoint Azzurro had beaten them and so half the crew went home, back to their jobs, only to receive a phone call from their skipper to “get on a plane fast and get back here.”
“We thought they’d beat us by three hours, and after all their efforts, I hoped they get home quickly, but it wasn’t to be.”
He said the only other night he lay awake and paced was the night his three children were born. All four times were worth the wait.
Going into the 2014 Hobart, Balance was leading the chase for the CYCA’s Blue Water Point Score, inclusive of claiming second overall IRC Division 1 in the 2014 Gold Coast race and winning the Cabbage Tree Island Race. When Hobart conditions smiled down on the smaller yachts, Balance finished 36th overall, but was top TP52 and therefore accepted second overall in the BWPS.
Clitheroe is an owner whom many club racers could do well to emulate. He doesn't buy talent, but rather nurtures it. His is a crew that remains very stable year after year.
Perhaps the key to that was described by Andrew Hawkins of BoatCrewGear.com who crewed for Clitheroe several years ago. “When I joined the crew, Paul took me aside and explained the rules. 'On this boat we don't shout and we don't glare,' he said.”
This attitude of “do your own job and let everyone else do theirs” has worked, with this Balance and the previous one (a Beneteau 45) always near the top of any regatta they enter.
Clitheroe, well-known for his radio tips on making money, also takes a Corinthian approach, with the crew mostly paying their own way. That obviously gives them more of a stake in the whole enterprise.
Whatever the reasons for the win, Paul Clithroe will be as happy as any previous winner of the prestigious trophy and will gaze fondly at the half model of Balance which will adorn the walls of this home club, the CYCA.
Although it's Clitheroe's first win, it is the second time the boat has taken the honours. As Quest, it won the 2008 race for Bob Steel, and aboard in that race were two of this year's winning crew, sailing master Mike Green, a veteran of 37 Hobarts, and Adam Brown, a veteran of 29 races. Green also won on a previous Quest in 2002 and took line honours on Ninety Seven in the storm ravaged 1993 race. Brown, was with Green in 2008 and 1993, with an additional overall win on Ragamuffin in 1992.
– Roger McMillan with additional material from Rolex Sydney Hobart Media
The Winning Crew:
Paul Clitheroe, Mike Green, Adam Brown, Nick Scott Perry, David Keddie, David Taylor, Jason Dock, Matthew Craig, Max de Montgolfier, Tom Brewer, Michael Slinn, Andrew Cribb and Clinton Evans, who becomes the first Norfolk Islander to win the race.