Matt Allen arrives in Hobart, waiting to see if he's Number One

Matt Allen docked his brand new TP52 at Kings Pier at 9.00am this morning, acknowledging he will now have to play the waiting game to see if his Ichi Ban (No 1 in Japanese) is indeed No. 1 in the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Allen, the president of Australian Sailing, knows he will be waiting on boats in the 40 to 46 foot range to finish the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 73rd Sydney Hobart – they are the only flies in his ointment right now.

“Patrice (Tony Kirby’s Ker 46), Concubine (Jason Ward’s Mills 45 and Chutzpah, the Caprice 40 owned by Bruce Taylor, are the front runners that could spoil Allen’s party.

“I think the breeze is lightening off though, and they won’t come home as fast as we did,” Allen said, knowing his biggest pre-race threat, Quest (Bob Steel’s two-time Rolex Sydney Hobart winner) is still on the race track and no longer in a position to beat him. The same can be said of the other TP52’s and Cookson 50s in the race.

Of his 28th participation in the race, Allen, a past commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia which organises the race, commented: “This is the best Hobart race I have ever done – it was exhilarating – I reckon we surfed at 28 knots. I’ve never seen conditions like it, the closest was in 1999 – I hope we see them again.

Allen said the race did have its moments though, none more so than when they blew out the largest spinnaker on the boat. “It’ll make a nice car cover – it’s beyond repair. That left us with the A4, and I was a little nervous, because if that went too, we were going to be in trouble.”

It was one of the trickiest moments of the 628 nautical mile race, the Sydney yachtsman said. “We lost miles on the boats around us, but when the wind eased off, we caught up again. We were buried by water a lot of the way – it was an incredibly wet race and pretty intense. We were buried a lot of the time.

Their other intense moment was parking for 20 minutes at John Garrow Light. “It was a long 20 minutes,” he admitted.

“At one stage ‘Youngster’ (Anthony Merrington) was driving the boat like he’s stolen it – and Bubs (Wade Morgan) drove so hard with the A4 (second spinnaker) on. We didn’t hold back at all. Gordon (Maguire) and Will (Sykes) picked the perfect layline into Tasman Island and that was a big gain for us too.”

The Ichi Ban crew will fill in the intervening hours waiting to hear their fate by having a few drinks and partaking of the renowned local scallop pies, Allen said.

Either way, he is a happy man: “I think we broke the conventional record for a yacht our size,” he said with a smile on his face.

By Di Pearson, RSHYR media 

M.O.S.S Australia