Sir Robin reflects on Rolex Sydney Hobart Race

Back to archive

With the Clipper 13-14 Race fleet due in Brisbane, Australia over the next few days there’s been time to reflect on the fleet’s adventures since setting sail from London last September.

None more some prestigious that the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, where all twelve Clipper 70s along with two Clipper 68s took part in the world famous race.

On board CV10 - one of the Clipper 68s - was Race Founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

“The Rolex Sydney Hobart Race is one of the world’s great offshore races and it has earned a well deserved reputation for providing testing conditions for sailors and their boats. Hobart is, after all, in the Roaring Forties. 

“Our boats are not stripped out like most of the racers, they are, after all, racing around the world and carrying a lot of additional food and stores that other boats dump for the race, but we knew that, and thought the experience would more than compensate for struggling against stripped out 100 footers.

“The race itself, traditionally starting on Boxing Day from inside Sydney Harbour, attracted 94 boats this year including 14 from the Clipper Race. With light winds forecast for the start it would obviously pay to go and search for the south flowing current to compensate for lack of wind. That is what we did aboard CV10, skippered by Jim Dobie with a crew of largely former Clipper Race veterans.   

“This got us to the Bass Strait in about third overall amongst the Clipper Race boats. At this point the wind came up strongly from the northeast, ideal Clipper 70s weather, and we raced on waiting for the position updates to see how far back we had dropped.   

“In fact we held up well, lying fifth as we got to the lee of Flinders Island as the front passed over and the wind rose to a south westerly Force 8, gusting 44 knots in one spike.   

“We headed in towards the Tasmania coast to reduce the fetch and thus the size of the waves and started to reel in the Clipper 70s.

Derry~Londonderry~Doire had got away from everyone and was sailing very well, but the others could be targets for us and we hunted them.   

“By the turning point off Tasman Island we were within a couple of miles of four Clipper 70s and had everything to race for.

“The wind was lighter, not necessarily good for us, but you sail to your strengths not your weaknesses.    

“As we entered the River Derwent, with ten miles ago, we discovered to our delight that there were four Clipper 70s in sight astern and only one, Derry~Londonderry~Doire, ahead.

“That was satisfying. What was more so was to discover we had beaten the legendary Ragamuffin on IRC Handicap. 

“The Clipper 70s came in very close together, both on time and on handicap.

“At about 37 tons we did not expect them to beat the stripped out racers, but we did expect them to put up a good performance and all of them did.    

“For the crews, well, they now have bragging rights. They have done one of the great iconic races and it was not an easy one.   

“Well done to them all.”