Rolex Sydney Hobart: Tasmanians ahead of the game

Tasmanian boats in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race have a bit of an advantage over their NSW rivals – their boats have to be prepared before they leave for Sydney – and then their skippers get to test the boats and crew out on the delivery to Sydney – a reverse Sydney Hobart.

Greg ‘Enzo’ Prescott is one of three Tasmanians entered in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 628 nautical mile race, which starts on December 26, at 1.00pm. Prescott sailed 2 Unlimited into her berth at the CYCA on Thursday, and just after putting the cover on the boat, the hailstorm hit.

“Good timing – we got in just in time,” confirmed Prescott, a hardened sailor with 27 Sydney Hobarts to his credit, his last two on Shogun in 2011 and 2012. The Tasmanian has done the race on his own and other people’s yachts, but is happy to be in charge of his own vessel again – a Farr 40 which he has modified for Category 1 IRC Racing.

“We had a really good delivery – we didn’t break anything. It was a good test, because we’ve had to do a few modifications to get her ready for the race, including a new 250 kilo bulb for the keel, designed by Farr.

“It (the bulb) will give the boat more stability upwind – the Farr 40s are usually quite tippy. It will work against us in light air though. But we’re ready for Boxing Day,” says Prescott, who plans to return Christmas afternoon with his all-Tasmanian crew.

“They’re the nucleus of those who usually race with me,” he says of crew who are with him in the smaller Melges 32 keelboat, also named 2 Unlimited, which he races locally and at the national level. His is one of the toughest crews to beat, and more often than not, creams the opposition. He also has some gun SB20 and keelboat sailors with him, such as Claire Cunningham.

“I’ll keep doing the round the cans racing in the Melges, but I wanted to do more passage type racing, that’s why I bought the Farr.”

Is he ready for the competition?

“The competition will be an open book. We haven’t raced against any of these guys before. We haven’t raced much at all, so we don’t know. We’re in Division 3 and it looks quite daunting. I guess the other modified Farr (Anthony Kirke’s Enterprise from WA) and Sail Exchange (Carl Crafoord’s recently purchased Cookson 12) are up there.

“I’m looking forward to the race though, now that I’ve been through the rebuild, rated the boat and got our safety certificate – it’s great to have that all behind me,” he admits.

The Hobart businessman will be waving the Tasmanian banner along with Black Sheep, the Beneteau 45 purchased this year by brothers-in-law Matt Pilkington and Rob Gourlay and Phillip Turner’s RP66, Alive.

Black Sheep is in Division 3 with 2 Unlimited, so will produce some Tasmanian rivalry, while Alive, in Division 0, will come up against all the super maxis and near-sistership Wild Oats X, and her all-female pro crew. Not to mention two odds-on favourites to win the race overall, Eric de Turkheim’s NMYD54, Teasing Machine (FRA), and Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50, Privateer from the US.

It’s a tough ask for the Tasmanians, in a fleet of 85 that is second to none, but their chances are as good as anyone else. No matter the ending, they are sure to receive the warmest welcome when they cross the Castray finish line in Hobart.

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: http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/

By DI PEARSON, RSHYR media 

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