Rolex Sydney Hobart – intense preparation with nine days to go

Intense preparation is the name of the game as realisation dawns on owners and crews that only nine days remain before the start of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s (CYCA) 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Top of the list is David Witt, skipper of Sun Hung Kai Scallywag. Witt and the super maxi’s owner, Seng Huang Lee, are battling the clock to have two spinnakers recut. Replacements have been kindly donated by other super maxi owners, after the Hong Kong entry tore two in the Grinder’s Coffee SOLAS Big Boat Challenge last week.

Sounds simple, but it isn’t. All the supers have different rigs, so it is a massive undertaking to recut and test both in time for the big day. Michael Coxon and his crew at North Sails are under the pump to ready the kites in time.

Reve’s owner, Kevin Whelan is also pacing, as the mast is out of his Beneteau 45F5 waiting for a repair. “There are five boats in the line in front of me, but I’ve been promised it will be ready in time,” said Whelan at the CYCA yesterday.

Others based at the CYCA are also finishing jobs and undergoing safety checks as the big day draws nearer.

Michael Green, the linchpin on Matt Donald and Chris Townsends TP52, Gweilo, has a torn Achilles tendon. A crew mate says: “He did it in the Newcastle Bass Island race and made it worse when he did the Cabbage Tree Island Race.” Now Greenie is battling to get better in time for his 40th Sydney Hobart race, but remains stoic.

On a more positive front, Koa’s Andy Kearnan and Peter Wrigley have ramped up their crew with two familiar faces and Sydney Hobart stalwarts, Larry Jamieson (with 32 Hobarts behind him) and Campbell Knox, whose vast offshore and America’s Cup experience adds to an already accomplished crew.

On Papillon, the crew are gathering together from around Australia and around the world for just one more Sydney Hobart: “That's right, just one more,” confirms the Archambault 40 racer/cruiser’s Sydney owner, Phil Molony.

“My doctor of 40 years, Tim, told me I’m closer to 100 than 50. I told him, ‘I’ll do the maths thank you – you stick to medicine’,” the tough 70 something year-old said.

“He wouldn’t let me do the Noumea Race. I woke up one morning with a really bad back, but I’ve been doing all the right exercises and eating what I’m told in preparation. I just want to do one more – and the crew have obliged – coming from everywhere. We have 101 Hobarts between us on the crew – 42 done on Papillon.”

In 2014, Molony notched up his milestone 25th race with a best result of 17th overall, but last raced to the Apple Isle in 2016.

Eighty-nine yachts are set to face starter’s orders in the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, starting on Boxing Day, 26 December at 1pm.

The Boxing Day start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network via 7Mate throughout Australia.

For full list of entries and all information:


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