Tassie tug-of-war for Rolex Sydney Hobart trophy

Two pint-sized Tasmanian boats will go-head-to-head in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in December, and apart from targeting the main objective of winning the race overall, the duo’s pride will be on the line as they chase the first Tasmanian boat trophy. 

In 26th place overall last year, Martela, Anthony Williams’ IMX 38 was the best finisher of the Tasmanian entries and received TasPorts Trophy for its efforts, as well as the CYCA Trophy for finishing third in ORCi Division 3.

Williams was a worthy recipient, having been on the start line of every local event in the lead-up to the 628 nautical mile Hobart race. His efforts paid dividends and could again, because Martela finished second in the Combined Club Long Race Series in March. The series consists of a number of races drawing in big numbers from around the Apple Isle.

“There’s pretty good rivalry between us – always a fast chase from either boat,” Williams admits. “It’s quite close between us. They are quicker downwind, while we like upwind and quiet conditions more. Last year was good for us until the northerly hit in the Strait.”

Both boats have family aboard: “My son and I are sailing together again – it’s our third or fourth time. My wife tolerates racing and we do all the preparations ourselves. Sailing with the family is a really good experience; it makes the race that much better. I’m pretty competitive and it doesn’t take much to get me going, so the family tie is an extra bonus. The Rees boys have same sort of advantage.”

He says there are others to beat, such as Wild Rose. “Roger Hickman (born and bred in Tassie, but living in Sydney for years) is a strong competitor in our division. Keeping with them and sometimes following can be a good option; they are very strong tactically. The decisions they make can have a big impact on what we do. They are hard to beat.”

Their main opposition though, will be Whistler. David Rees’ MBD36 does not rest on its laurels and has travelled as far afield as England twice to take on the sailing/mountain running Three Peaks Yacht Race twice, finishing third overall in 2010 following victory in the Tasmanian Three Peaks Race.

A repeat performance paid off in 2013, when Whistler won the H.W. (Bill) Tilman Trophy, awarded to the first team to win the race based on a points system that favoured older teams, older yachts and all round participation.

Rees and crew won the Combined Clubs Offshore and Three Island Series this year. With Sydney-Hobart skipper Jory Linscott at the helm, they are looking sharp after taking the hat trick of IRC, AMS and PHS wins in December’s 190 nautical mile TasPorts Maria Island, despite evacuating a crew member who had lost the top of a finger.

Whistler is arguably Tasmania’s best known racing boat. She last contested the Rolex Sydney Hobart in 2011 for 10th overall and second in Division 4. She almost pulled off the overall win, leading the race for the Tattersall's Cup until the wind turned south with some oomph behind it.

“It was a good feeling getting messages through from home saying we were in with a chance against the big boats. It would be nice to be the first in a long time to bring it home for Tasmania,” said Jory Linscott, who is skipper this time.

It was a great finish anyway, resulting in Whistler’s name being engraved on the Tasports Trophy for first Tasmanian overall. Rees’ brother Jonathan received the City of Hobart Trophy for the Navigator of First Tasmanian Yacht on Corrected Time.

In the lead-up, Rees and his crew had achieved outstanding success over a two year period, in ocean racing and in the Three Peaks adventure challenge in Tasmania and the United Kingdom. Whistler is Hobart’s hope and that of the Rolex Sydney Hobart finisher, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, where Rees is a member.

Jory Linscott crewed Whistler in the last two Hobarts, but will skipper in place of stepfather David Rees this time. Step-uncle Jon will navigate again, while Linscott’s sister Lucy, at 18 years and nine month’s old will crew in her first Hobart race. “She’s been involved since she was 12 and probably sailed the same amount of miles as anyone else on board,” he says.

Linscott says of Martela: “We’ve got a lot of respect for those guys. They’re a little bigger than us, and although we’ve got similar speeds, we enjoy different conditions.”

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 Notice of Race is online at: http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/competitors/online-race-entry/.

By Di Pearson/Alex South, RSHYR media 

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