With the Big Boat Brethren (BBB) already racing in DBSC event, on the international stage (R2H) and in the classics (see Wild Rose), it is worth reliving our gold standard year: 2012.
2012 Sydney to Hobart reports
Breakthrough report by the Supremo.
Our boat (a Beneteau First 40) held together well - one spinnaker blew (tore across near the head). Virtually no other damage.
The start was easy, but the Harbour exit was choppy and crowded. I believe we were 15/16 in our Division leaving the Harbour and back in the high 50's/77, not a good start. By the finish, we had worked our way up to 8/16 and 28/77.
The first day we worked south in lumpy seas, which found out those of us with even a slight vulnerability to seasickness. The first day was, as usual, the worst for this particular form of suffering.
The southerly gave way to a much appreciated north-easterly on the morning of the 27th, and we enjoyed champagne sailing - fast in flat seas, under spinnaker (it was during this run that the 0.75oz masthead kite blew) - until ~9.00pm, when we passed 37°15', near Gabo Island, the official beginning of Bass Strait. There Breakthrough's co-skippers (JS and Mat Vadas) authorised - after discussions with all the crew - the signature call of this race ('in accordance with Sailing Instruction 41 the skipper wishes to continue racing'). It is advice to the Race Committee that, after considering the state of the crew, the state of the boat and the forecast, we wished to continue to drive south, away from land, across Bass Strait.
The northerly held for a few more hours, but then a predicted westerly came in, a classic roaring forties wind, funneled between the mainland and Tasmania. We saw the front coming, brought in the spinnaker, put 2 reefs in the main and put up the smallest racing headsail (the #4), and were ready as the wind built up and up, to 20-plus knots, with occasional gusts near 30.
S2H boats are built for these winds, which are classed 'strong' (so less than gale-or storm-force). Breakthrough laid over on her port gunwale and powered south at 7 knots plus. She pitched into waves, stretched over them and slammed very little. But the crew, perched on the rails were sprayed and splashed and occasionally drenched with green water, which knocks you aftwards and leaves you feeling warm and then freezing, sitting in water as it drains slowly off the deck. After each watch, we clambered below and collapsed, on a bunk or pipecot or 'on the sails', near the keel. Exhaustion brought sleep easily, despite our being wet through.
We helmed in turn during the crossing (which took ~20 hours, so 6 changes of watch), each helmsman putting one foot one the port (low) side of the cockpit, the other foot on the tilted cockpit floor), swathed to the eyes in wet weather gear, concentrating as the boat leaped forward. It was a high moment of the race, scary yet exciting. Below decks, everything was tilted and heaving. To do anything but lie down was an exhausting clamber, with danger of falls and injuries. Like trying to camp on a steep, heaving mountain.
Somewhere on the 29th, maybe mid-morning, we reached the lee of Flinders Island, things calmed down a bit and the challenge became to keep momentum along the Tasmanian coast, not too far out to sea (you have to get back), nor too close ('beware the Freycinet hole'). The reefs came out of the main, bigger head sails went up and - for a few hours - a big-shouldered, fragile spinnaker, to make the best of a very light breeze. And we stretched and stretched to get down the long coast of main island, along the Freycinet, Forester and Tasman Peninsulas, past Maria Island and Brilliant Island and many bays.
In mid afternoon, a sou-easterly blow came in - without much sign, no visible cloud line until it hit, and we trimmed to it. It was welcome - we needed wind - but, undetected, it could have knocked us flat, and taken out the big, big spinnaker. But our navigator had 'patrolled' the local coastal stations, and we knew it was coming. With that knowledge, the front was spotted, and we had just time to be ready. The new wind was powerful, and tested us for the next 18h until, on the morning of the 30th, we were in sight of Tasman Island. The wind had swung southwest overnight, but it was still a beat and was now bitterly cold (much colder than in the Strait). With Tasman Island abeam, the photography plane came out and, on the rail, the crew arranged ourselves as impressively as possible (right boot over left, no waving).
We tacked into Storm Bay under the organ pipes, the sharp southwesterly still driving us. It eased as we passed Cape Raoul, and shifted and puffed, but stayed westerly and we had to tack to get through the entrance to the Derwent River, around the Iron Pot lighthouse. It is 30nm from the organ pipes to the Iron Pot; it had taken us 6h of beating; not a bad VMG.
The weather calmed as we bore away to the north, and reached up the River, for the last challenge of this race - to hold your place to the finish (there were several boats close). We were all alert, excited to be safe and nearly there. The wind stayed in until we reached Blinking Billy Point, where we fell into the lee of Mt Nelson. Two following boats saw our plight and swung to the right to avoid the lee, almost catching us. We fidgeted our way through the lee into a stiff new breeze, and then it was a dash for the finish, tacking through fleets of dinghies, including fleets of radial and full-rig Lasers. Tack and dash and tack back, several times; we managed to avoid losing a place and it was done.
Over the line, we bore away, brought down the sails, exchanged greetings with the RTYC response boats and motored with them past the crowds along the waterfront. They were well oiled (it was 4.00pm and the day was sunny) and gave us and each boat a friendly cheer and more, and families waved from dockside. A special moment. We moored in King's Dock, relaxed with a drink (every boat gets a slab of beer from the host Club), exchanged handshakes and began to relax - with relief after a long (4 day 3hour), demanding race.
Broadly, we did poorly the first afternoon, superbly across the Strait (we were first in Division after the crossing), then fell back from that brilliance to a very respectable finish. In Division 3 of the S2H, there are no easybeats, and often overall race winners.
Not this time though. The big nor-easterly on the 26th and 27 had brought the maxis to line honours on the second day; the wind could only get slower, and the small boats had no chance.
On Breakthrough, co-owner Mat Vadas, also a DBSC member, was on board, as co-skipper. And Nigel Gosse was also on board, as foredeck hand, and Gerry Donohoe (International Irish Import, a.k.a. Icube) is doing the delivery. So - a strong DBSC presence
As they say, there's always next year. But never for everyone.
2 January 2013
(Editor: JS now known as Supremo Stone, or just the Supremo.)
Wild Rose report by JJen.
I think Breakthough and Wild Rose did DBSC proud.
You may not realise it but Wild Rose not only won Division 4, we also ‘unofficially’ won division 3 AND 2. That is right! One of the DBSC “Big Boats” (i.e. little suckers in the scheme of offshore racing) beat all the boats in the ‘middle to rather biggish’ divisions. We came 13th on handicap overall and were only beaten by 12 others in the ‘we are extremely big boats, often with professional crew with fairly large campaign funding’. See link (Division 0 refers to the really, really BIG BIG Boats, while Division 1 is for the really BIG BIG boats – and the times are the corrected times on handicap). While not officially a member of the DBSC we also pay our respects to Love and War who were second in Division 4 and unofficially second in Division 3 as well. Go the Corinthian spirit!!
Seriously, the acceptance speech by the Wild Oats representative at the official prize giving recognised that the conditions suited the BIG, BIG boats and that he thought that all the BIG, BIG boats would acknowledge that. However he said that all of them recognised that it would not be a race if us other smaller big boats did not come out and give them a run for their money.
Proud DBSC Laser sailor, Roger Hickman says that all Hobart’s are difficult in their own unique ways, having sailed 36 of them (ed: now known as R2H – Roger to Hobart). He says that this one was difficult given the number of fronts as well as potential holes in the breeze. We experienced the joys of big seas and wild winds and the wonders of staring at the same part of the south coast of NSW (we don’t want to see Bateman’s Bay again for a while – I’m sure the other 6 yachts caught with us are probably not booking Easter holiday accommodation there either) as well as having the luxury of checking out at length some of the slightly more spectacular looking parts of the Tasmanian east coast (compared to Bateman’s Bay).
Maybe my secret weapon in making sure we didn’t get to Port Moresby instead of Hobart was my co-navigator Ben the bear. I think he can read the charts sideways so, even though we had a few arguments at times, we usually amicably agreed that we should generally be heading southish (see photo) and avoid a few rocks and try to locate the best breeze if possible. Also I think it may have been Ben’s reputation as a true navigator that had some other boats openly admitting during the Hobart celebrations that their strategy was to follow Wild Rose –nothing of course to do with R2H having won the race twice and being known to be a master seaman.
Coming up the Derwent was extremely frustrating but it was a pleasure to see the 70 odd Lasers in the Australian National Championship enjoying private 25 knot winds up the other end of the river. It made us a little homesick and we look forward to getting back to DBSC in February. (Well of course it reminded us of home given the rather strong conditions that we have experienced at DBSC over the season, even I haven’t tackled yet in a 4.7 rig. Bass Strait is a different beast altogether but she just asks for a little bit more time to learn the true art of sailing).
On a very serious note we are very pleased that Wild Rose raised over $17,000 dollars for The Kids’ Cancer Project. I think part of this was due to the support of Alex South who took Ben out for a taste of extreme ‘dinghy’ sailing on the SCR 18 footer. I think Ben may be a bit too heavy to try out Laser’s (he is rather big and not very agile) but we thank Alex for her enthusiasm and her wish to keep supporting this amazing foundation that funds research into some of the most aggressive children’s cancers – which of course helps fund potential cures for all cancer.
Wild Rose will also be representing DBSC at the upcoming Geelong Week for the IRC Australian Championship around Australia Day. We hope to continue to have the honour of representing our favourite club to the best of our abilities..
Navigator and 4.7 Laser sailor
Several months back, a prominent physician said to Supremo while he was in lying in hospital, “…because you are a man of medicine and science I don’t need to dumb done the issues or prognosis for you, and can give you the all the technical details: your f….ked.”
On Christmas day, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in her television message, “despite not believing in God, I would like to wish some of my fellow Australians a happy Christmas”
On Boxing Day, and just after leaving Sydney Harbour, R2H shouted down the companion way to his trusty sidekick, “are you sure you want to turn the map upside down?”
A few days later, R2H asked, “ are you sure we are heading in the right direction?”
At the press conference in Hobart, Wild Rose skipper, DBSC member, R2H completing his 36th trip to Hobart winning Div 4 said, between sips of lemonade, "this was the toughest Hobart I have ever done. I wasn't sure we were going to make it, but our navigator JJen, another DBSC rock star, got us there. JJen is the first navigator who has got to Hobart by turning the map upside down."
Steeping off the boat, exhausted but elated, the Supremo said, "the Strait was classic - a powerful, always > 20 kn westerly had the boat on its ear for 18h. A fast, safe but physically harsh crossing. After a bitterly cold morning beating around Tasman Is, the Bay was windy and the River calm, even becalming, before a dash to the finish. The crowds were welcoming, the afternoon sunny and warm."
Later at the international press conference, the Supremo expanded, “The 'big boat' element of DBSC activity is important, complementing our strength in dinghies. The DBSC burgee on our transom was clearly advertised our presence in Hobart (see photo)”
DBSC’s Celebrity Emergency Department Doctor, DrG remarked, “Wishing all a happier and better year to come! Especially congrats to the incredible Supremo Stone who overcame huge set backs and showed how powerful willpower can be and prove medical predictions inaccurate or at least cautious. He must be made of stuff stronger than just stone....stay safe and definitely away from Emergency at Vinnies (particularly on Friday and Saturday nights).”
Noted Couta Boat sailor, Malcolm Turnbull confided to a national television audience, “Lucy and I cried. It was a wonderful example to the kiddies, particularly Gen Y, when DBSC Supremo, despite the odds, sailed down to Hobart for a beer with some mates on Breakthrough, and now is sailing back immediately so he can be back for the start of the Autumn point score, and saves on accommodation in Hobart.”
Prime Minister Julia Gilliard, and Tim, commented in a press release, "It is a fine example to my fellow Australians to get the paper work in on time (are you listening Grant?), and then just get on with the on job. If only our younger fellow Australians were as focussed, diligent and effective! Well done, and have a safe trip back to Sydney!"
Adrienne Cahahan recognised the achievement, "I've done a lot of off-shore racing, including winning this year's triple as navigator, but I have done it the easy way by holding the map with north facing up. What JJen has done is a milestone, and will make women globally comfortable with turning maps around in cars, boats and on aircraft. It is a huge win for our gender as it proves that turning the map works!"
Tony Abbot responded immediately, “I have been married for almost 30 years and have three daughters, and it has been pointed out to me that the GPS units in cars turns the map upside down when travelling south. I’m now going back in my box, and saying nothing until after the election.”
Dr. J. Craig Venter contacted DBSC because “he thought he had accurately mapped the human genome, but obviously the Supremo has something “extra” and wanted some samples.
Icube said, “I’m calling it the Hobart to Sydney now”
Honary DBSC member, and Laser sailor, Anna Tunnicliffe pleaded, “I’m relatively fit (see photo), but I need some coaching in sailing technique - are any of the DBSC Big Boat Brethren available”
Commodore of St Francis Yacht club exclaimed, “ we did the right thing being subsumed by DBSC and so proud of the achievements of the DBSC sailors. When Pitt the Newest said we can continue with Big Boats if we lifted our standards, it was an opportunity that couldn’t be passed. I hope you enjoy the attached Kodak moment (see attached) when we became part of the DBSC family.”
Finally, Dear Leader proclaimed, “let’s celebrate this Saturday at out extended and refurbished club, and then get down to the business of retaining the Rolex Vaucluse Challenge Cup, and continue the unification of south and north.”
Kodak Moments (click on links below)
(Note: apologies for indirect link - eventually these will be loaded up on the DBSC website, so you will be able to download)