Toecutter has been a much-missed name in recent Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleets.
Various iterations of the Robert Hick designed boat have lined up for the traditional Boxing Day start at 1pm; but not since 2005 has it featured in the 628 nautical mile race.
Then, the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria registered boat, a Hick 31, placed 33rd overall in a year when the 100 foot yacht Wild Oats XI finished first over the line and won the race overall.
This year, a new Toecutter, a Hick 10 designed and built by Hick in Laverton, Victoria, will start the race. And Hick will skipper her.
As Hick proudly says: “It is a completely different breed of boat. It is world apart in performance.”
The renowned Australian yacht designer/builder/yachtsman, who has a special eye for smaller yachts, co-owns the boat with Brad Bult.
It was only launched recently, and made its offshore racing debut in November in the 195 nautical mile Melbourne to Devonport race, a.k.a. the Rudder Cup.
The boat was further tested on its delivery from Melbourne to Sydney, where it is now moored at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, organisers of the 628 nautical mile Sydney Hobart.
For the Sydney Hobart, Toecutter’s crew will number six and Hick is excited to see how his new creation fares in division, not to mention the overall race for the Tattersall Cup.
“It’s a project that I have been totally immersed in. There has been no time to come up for air,” said Hick.
“As a boat, it is ready to go. The toys are all there but they are not all dialled in. With four more days of work on it we should be pretty good,” he said.
Hick and Bult are far more optimistic about their prospects now than they were after Toecutter’s last Sydney Hobart in 2005. At the time, they were left disillusioned about the fairness of boat rating for smaller boats.
“We sat down and said, ‘This is a pointless exercise. We entered Sydney Hobart to win, but we looked at the rating and realised we were wasting our time,” Hick said.
“We put the campaign to bed; but then, it was not out of mind. I did a lot of Hobarts … in my mind at home and on the laptop, looking at what could be done.”
Then “about five years ago,” the desire returned to race another Sydney Hobart, but for real.
“We saw that the small boats were winning the Fastnet race,” said Hick.
“The Fastnet is a different race, but they were a different breed of small boat. They were rating the same as what we were rating, but going faster.”
With a new design in his head, Hick succeeded in getting Bult to re-commit to the race.
“I said to Brad, ‘I think we can do something here.’ And he said, ‘I’m in,’” recalled Hick.
While this iteration of Toecutter is much lighter; as three feet longer, it rates a little higher.
However, Hick is confident that his latest design will optimise Toecutter’s chances.
“We are a ton lighter. One ton lighter out of three and a half is a significant weight reduction,” he said.
“But this boat has also been designed from the ground up to specifically go to Hobart.
“It’s three feet longer and rates higher than other boats, but its speed potential is far greater.
“If the conditions are suited, we will be well and truly competitive.”
Written by Rupert Guinness | RSHYR Media
Internationally, the race will be available through YouTube on CYCATV or on Facebook Rolex Sydney Hobart page.
For the full list of entries and more information about the race, visit rolexsydneyhobart.com.