A traditional yacht and one of the smallest in the fleet, it is fitting that Nick Cannar’s S&S 34 Wilparina is the 80th entry to be received in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the 70th edition of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s famous annual event.
Among Wilparina’s crew will be Bill Ratcliff, who has battled the elements in 45 Hobart races spanning a long ocean racing career, a number that is bettered by only two other yachtsmen and equalled by one other. Ratcliff sailed 10 of those races on his own S&S 34, Marrara, with a best result of third overall and first in division in 1993, so will be a great asset.
“I wasn’t going to do the race this year, but Bill persuaded me,” Cannar said. “I’m very much looking forward to doing the race now,” added the 67 year-old, who will represent Greenwich Sailing Club, where he also sails a Laser to stay on his toes.
Yacht and owner made their Rolex Sydney Hobart debut last year, but were among the unfortunate few who retired when a crew member became ill, so to finish the race this year will be an achievement.
“The crew is a much more experienced one this year and covers a wide spread of ages – from 25 years-old to Bill (Ratcliff) who is 78,” Cannar said.
At 628 nautical miles, the race will be a long, tough slog aboard the S&S 34, but Cannar, who normally cruises Wilparina, is already aware of that. He also knows his boat is at its best facing harsh weather head on, so a stiff southerly would not raise an eyebrow.
Cannar will be in good company. Already one other same design, Azzurro (Shane Kearns), is entered. Then there are bigger sisters Tina of Melbourne (Andy Doolan), an S&S 37, and three-time overall Hobart winner, Love & War (Simon Kurts), an S&S 47.
The American designed and Australian built Sparkman & Stephens yacht is one of the most seaworthy in the business. It is the same design and size that safely carried young sailors Jesse Martin and Jessica Watson around the world non-stop, single-handed and into the record books.
Joining New South Welshmen Cannar and Ratcliff on their journey south on Boxing Day is Brian Caldwell, who in 1996 became the first person under 21 to sail around the world single-handed with stops. Now 39, Caldwell was also aboard Wilparina for last year’s race and his offshore experience, including Transpac races, will be invaluable.
In celebration of the 70th running of the race, the CYCA has extended an invitation to those yachts that have competed in previous Sydney Hobarts to participate in a Parade of Sail, which will commence at 10am on 26 December.
Competitors from the early years of the race, such as Kathleen Gillett, Archina, Wayfarer, Christina and Defiance will motor-sail a short Harbour course led by the historic naval vessel HMAS Advance.
CYCA organisers are predicting a national and international fleet of up to 130 yachts will grace the start line on Boxing Day, December 26 at 1pm AEDT.
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.
Entries in the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2014 close on Friday 31 October 2014 at 1700hrs AEDT.
The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014 Notice of Race is online at:http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/competitors/online-race-entry/.
– Di Pearson, RSHYR media