A classic race winner and a
tribute to Hobart race veteran, the late Peter Kurts
conditions experienced in the 2006 Rolex Sydney Hobart have resulted in one
of the races most classic entries taking handicap honors. This afternoon at
a dockside ceremony at Hobart's Constitution Dock, Geoff Lavis, Commodore of
the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, organizer of the Rolex Sydney Hobart
Yacht Race presented the coveted Tattersalls Cup to this year's winner,
Lindsay May and his nine strong crew on the yacht Love & War.
One of the most beautiful boats
in the race, Love & War is a Sparkman & Stephens 47- footer, built in
1973 for owner Peter Kurts. In a long, impressive career the boat was
overall winner of the Sydney Hobart race in 1974 and 1978 and represented
Australia in the Admiral's Cup in 1975. In her prime, she won most of the
principle offshore races along Australia's east coast.
|Lindsay May, Love and War and Richard de Leyser,
Photo by: Daniel Forster/ Rolex
Love & War is typical of
her era, with 'tumblehome' (where the beam of the boat is wider below the
deck rather than at the deck level), a pointed bow and stern and she still
is very 'original' with swaths of varnished teak down below, giant stainless
steel winches, Tufnol blocks, an alloy rig - all massive bulletproof gear,
typical of her vintage. The only acknowledgement of the 21st century is in
her instruments. "In 2004 we added B&G instruments and Peter couldn't get
over that the instruments cost as much as the hull cost when the boat was
built," said May with a smile of nostalgia. Aged 80, Peter Kurts died in
January 2005, the same day as Love & War sailed back into Sydney from the
end of the 2004 Rolex Sydney Hobart.
Love & War remains in the
Kurts family, but son Simon was unable to sail this year and lent the boat
to May who competed with many of his old colleagues from the famous Sydney
maxi, Brindabella. The annual Rolex Sydney Hobart is a race where
competitors are proud of the number of times they have entered and between
the ten Love & War crew this year they had 132 Hobart races, making them one
of the most experienced in the race.
The crew included Brindabella
owner George Snow, sailing on board Love & War on this occasion as
cook. "More fun, less responsibility - it is an important job on a boat,"
joked Snow, who is renown for the 'Brindabella breakfast', where the usual
features are liberally enhanced with Tabasco.
Aside from canny tactics, one of
the reasons for Love & War's success is her typical 1970s hull shape
and her heavy displacement - both features are very good for sailing upwind,
which represented 90% of conditions in this year's race. "Upwind under this
handicap this boat will sail above its handicap consistently. Downwind - no,
it is not happy," admits May.
Snow compared her to the modern
race boats surrounding her on the dock in Hobart: "It is a heavier boat and
not as heavily canvassed, and so not as dynamic. But it is beautiful boat,
it goes up and down the waves, it doesn't bang and slam, it is a very easy
boat to sail."
While the modern lightweight
boats headed inshore, Love & War made a beeline for the lumpy
conditions offshore, where the south-going current was fighting the wind
from the south creating a sharp, highly uncomfortable sea state.
"We just went out to sea," said
May. "Then we hooked into this incredible current, 4.5 knots." Typically the
current here is 2 or 2.5 knots. They stayed offshore across the mouth of
Bass Strait, where they also made good use of the current, playing favorable
eddies to the full. Being east also put them into a good position to be able
to head for Tasman Island without having to tack as much as the boats
inshore. "Then we had favorable current all the way down the Tasmanian coast
- 2.5 knots, which I have never ever seen," said May.
Love & War finished at
09:17 this morning, taking 3 days, 20 hours, 17 minutes, and 24 seconds to
complete the 628 mile passage, one of a torrent of boats that have been
arriving in Hobart throughout today.
|DSK Comifin crew, Peter Allsop Memorial Trophy
Photo by: Daniel Forster/ Rolex
Shortly after midnight, Danilo
Salsi's DSK Comifin was 12th boat home, the immaculately turned out
Italian Swan 45 taking the handicap win in Division C. "It was a nice race.
A lot of upwind - too much," said tactician and former America's Cup and
Volvo Ocean Race crewman, Pietro d'Ali. "The Swan 45 is a very good boat
upwind and in the chop it is no problem. It was good conditions for the
boat, but not for the body."
Like Love & War, DSK
Comifin being a strong boat, had headed out into the current on the
first night and done extremely well, maintaining an easterly position down
the race track. However their luck ran out on the approach to Tasman Island
when the wind dropped and the wind shifted causing to them to be pushed into
the shore 60 miles up the coast.
"We are very happy," continued
d'Ali. "The boat was very well prepared but we didn't think we would have so
much upwind. But it is not a surfing boat, so downwind is a little bit
tricky, so we were lucky to find good conditions for the boat."
>From here DSK Comifin
will be loaded back onto a ship bound for the Med and will compete in the
Rolex Swan Europeans and the Rolex Fastnet Race this summer.
British skipper Chris Bull and
the crew of his J/145 Jazz had a less than satisfactory Rolex Sydney Hobart.
As Bull explained: "The first night was extremely tough, boat breaking
conditions as we saw with other competitors and we did back off. We actually
tacked back inshore to get out of the worst of the sea and that is not a
move we would have made in terms of getting to Hobart as quickly as we
could. We made it to protect the integrity of the boat and the safety of the
crew. So that put us on the back foot at the start of the race and we were
playing catch up after that."
Offshore, the faster lighter
weight, American-built yacht had been launching off waves, then landing with
an enormous impact. "We knew the sea would be gnarly out there but we didn't
realize quite how bad it would be. In fact it proved to be a bit more than
we thought we could safely ask the boat to take," said Bull. "We had several
people seasick which made it difficult to sail the boat efficiently and we
just judged that if we carried on launching off waves like that for several
more hours we couldn't be sure the boat would cope with it."
Bull was hoping for more reaching
conditions that have suited Jazz so well in offshore races in the past. "We
had some spinnaker work at the end which is where we managed to pull back
some time. If we'd had the spinnaker up half way through I would have
fancied us still to get some good honors, but as it was it was a bit too
late." Despite this, navigator Mike Broughton took them on an easterly route
and they faired well from this tactic, arriving 16th into Hobart and
finishing third under handicap in Division C.
Crewman and triple Olympic
medalist Rodney Pattisson, one of Jazz's helmsmen, was pleased to have
evened his score of Rolex Sydney Hobarts, having now finished three out of
six. "This was an easy one, except most of it was on the wind. We only had
one hard bashing one night and normally you get a lot worse seas."
At 19.00 there were still 13
yachts left to reach Hobart, however none of these can now finish in a time
fast enough to beat Love & War.
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