After a premature end to his maiden two-handed Rolex Sydney Hobart campaign in 2021, Michael Bell is back for another crack at the historic race and with his new boat, Minnie, the 50th entrant for this year’s race.
Bell, known by most as ‘Zappa’, was joined by son Matt on Rob Aldis and Peter Byford’s Azuree 46, Kayimai, for the 76th edition last year, but the pair made it just south of Wollongong before multiple instrument failures and issues with the main forced their early retirement.
That did nothing to quell Zappa’s resolve to complete the 628 nautical mile journey two-up, so he returned to shore and began plotting something that certainly wasn’t in his previous plans.
“I decided I still want to complete this journey (two-handed),” said Zappa, preparing for his 14th Sydney Hobart. “So, I looked around for a while. I looked at a lot of boats and I found this one, which has a good track record.”
Minnie, named as a tribute to Zappa’s late mother, is a Jones 42 which is currently in Melbourne, due to be delivered to Sydney in late July.
Formerly named Cadibarra 8, she won the 2013 Melbourne to Osaka Double-Handed Yacht Race on IRC, with Paul Roberts and Martin Vaughan as co-skippers. She also competed in multiple Sydney Hobarts as Cadibarra 8, notably finishing third in Division 2 in 2014.
There is a change of crew for 2022, but Zappa is still keeping it in the family. This time, he’ll head south with 24-year-old son, Ollie.
“He’s the one who originally put this idea [to race two-up to Hobart] in my head,” Zappa said.
Ollie is currently in Europe running the 213ft superyacht, Adix, but father and son have already completed two Sydney Hobarts together – on Kayimai in 2018 and on Van Diemen III in 2019.
Zappa hopes to enter the Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore with Minnie from the Flinders Islet Race on 24 September, before linking up with Ollie when he arrives back to Australia in early December.
Of his compatibility at sea with his son, Zappa has no doubts. “We blindly trust each other,” he said.
Minnie is one of 54 boats currently entered in the 2022 Sydney Hobart. Among them are four internationals, including two from the USA (Warrior Won and Wizard).
Crux, which was second on all handicaps in the inaugural Two-Handed Division, is one of seven boats set to race two-up, while Christian Beck’s Juan-K 100, LawConnect, is the first 100-footer signed on for the 77th edition of the race.