Luna Sea denotes 100 entries for Rolex Sydney Hobart

With only nine days remaining until the close of entries, one of the smallest, most audacious and memorable yachts in the history of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, appropriately became the 100thentry.

A mere 10.5 metres, James Cameron’s Hick 35, Luna Sea, will again do duty as one of the pintsized yachts in fleet for the 70th edition of the 628 nautical mile race.

Memorable and audacious she is; one of the minority 44 boats to finish the 1998 Hobart from 115 starters and going on to win the race overall after being tossed around like a rag doll in atrocious seas. Whoever would have thought? Named AFR Midnight Rambler then, she was in the capable hands of former owners Ed Psaltis and Bob Thomas.   

In 2012, James Cameron bought the 2004 launched yacht (originally christened Chutzpah for Bruce Taylor), and finished the Hobart 26th overall and fifth in division. Together they braved the worst of the conditions towards the end of last year’s race, but just before dawn on December 29, Luna Sea lost her rudder 53 nautical miles east of Flinders Island.

Unharmed, the Drummoyne yachtsman and his crew were towed over 100 miles to safety by the police vessel Van Diemen, whose crew was awarded the Rani Trophy for most meritorious performance as judged by the race committee three days later.   

“It’s still fresh in my mind,” said Cameron today, admitting; “being towed with no rudder, we were getting pounded in the swell with waves constantly washing over the boat – it was back-breaking. Most the crew were sick, it was good to reach St Helens.”

So unfinished business it is for the Drummoyne builder, who will have the company of the other small fry in the fleet to-date: Sean Langman’s 9m Maluka of Kermandie (NSW), Nick Cannar’s Wilparina at 10.1m and Shane Kearns’ 10.4m Quikpoint Azzurro (NSW).

“Luna Sea is going well with its new rudder. It’s a tough little boat. We’ve got a new larger kite and I’m looking at a new headsail. Half the crew are coming back this year and the main hope is to take a step up and make it from St Helens to Hobart – and to place in Division,” said Cameron who is sailing in the CYCA’s Blue Water Point Score in the lead-up.

Moving up a few metres are some golden oldies. Martin Power’s 36 year-old Peterson 44, Bacardi (Vic), lays claim to the most Hobart races by a yacht; this year will make 29. Simon Kurts’ S&S 47 Love & War (NSW), is one of only two boats to win the race overall three times, and Ray White Spirit of Koomooloo, Mike Freebairn’s (Qld) S&S 48 join Bacardi.

The three share history. Love & War and Bacardi finished first and second overall in the 2006 race. Love & War and Ray White Spirit of Koomooloo were designed by Sparkman & Stephens and were built by Australia’s Quilkey Brothers.

Freebairn’s wooden yacht was Syd Fischer’s first Ragamuffin. Launched in 1968, she won the 1971 Fastnet Race among others and changed hands in 1988 to become Richard Purcell’s Margaret Rintoul II. In the 50th anniversary Hobart, Purcell finished second overall in the 30 year Veterans division to the 1973 built Love & War.

Freebairn is keeping his fingers crossed for a good result to mark the 70th race: “We haven’t done the race since 2010 (finishing 18th overall to win Division 4), so there’s a fair bit of work to do, but we hope to be ready come Boxing Day,” he said.

But there is more than a good result at stake. “We’ll be supporting the Australian Melanoma Research Foundation. We recently lost someone to Melanoma, hence the allegiance with this worthwhile cause,” said Freebairn who will tick off his ninth Hobart race this year.

To commemorate the 70th edition of the race, the CYCA has extended an invitation to those yachts that have competed in previous Sydney Hobarts to participate in a Parade of Sail, which will commence at 10am on 26 December. Participants will motor-sail a short Harbour course led by the historic naval vessel HMAS Advance.

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starts on Boxing Day, December 26 at 1pm AEDT. Entries close on Friday 31 October 2014 at 1700hrs AEDT.

The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7.

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014 Race Entry and Notice of Race are online at:http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/competitors/online-race-entry/

– Di Pearson, RSHYR media

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