Skipper Thoughts ahead of Race 5: The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

26 December 2017

Since arriving in Sydney following an intense and thrilling first stage of All-Australian Leg preparations have been building for Race 5: The Rolex Sydney Hobart. Before the teams slipped lines we caught up with Skippers to get their thoughts ahead of the iconic race.

With Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper, Wendy Tuck, claiming hometown line honours in Race 4 and about to take part in her eleventh edition of the Blue Water Classic, the question on everyone’s lips was can she win the successive Clipper Race divisions and back to back races? But for her just the thrill of taking part continues to be the draw: “I love the race the whole fanfare of it, the busy start the excitement when you finish and all the different conditions we are going to come across on the way down to Hobart”

Qingdao currently top the overall race leaderboard following its first podium, third place, in Race 4. For Skipper Chris Kobsuch, this will be his second Sydney Hobart and he said: “It’s a nice short race, lots of other boats, first time racing with other boats not only the Clipper 70s this race so that’s fantastic. I’m also looking forward to seeing all the big 100 footer, supermaxis.

“Hopefully we can stay on the top of the leaderboard it’s a really tough race as it’s so short anything is possible one small mistake and you fall back and you can never recover. Surprisingly Wendy didn’t play her joker everyone thought she would, we have favourable winds so going to be a good race.”

After securing second place in Race 4, just 17 minutes behind Sanya Serenity Coast, Visit Seattle is hoping to keep the momentum building into Race 5. Skipper, Nikki Henderson, is not only the youngest Clipper Race Skipper, but the youngest skipper in the 73rd edition of the Sydney Hobart. Ahead of race start she said: “I’m excited. Plan is to sail as fast as I can and try not to break too many sails on the way.

“The crew are pretty excited, I think we are just trying to not get too overwhelmed about the hype of it and just keep things as there are, keep doing what we do and hopefully everything works out well again.”

Currently in fourth place on the overall leaderboard, Dare To Lead Skipper Dale Smyth when asked about he feels ahead of the race he said: “Very excited a little bit nervous, raring to go. The plan is to get out of the heads safely, get into open water and then get there as quick as possible. No Joker Card played on this race, which is interesting as eliminates that side of things.”

Sydney Harbour has already been the scene for an intense piece of drama, following the finish between Nasdaq and GREAT Britain that saw them go gybe for gybe to the finish line ending in eighth place being declared a draw. The next time both teams will be out on the water though they will be part of a 103 strong fleet for the famous start.

Nasdaq Skipper, Rob Graham, reported: “The start is going to be exciting and it’s a nice short sprint to Hobart. It’s going to be manic with all the other boats around, it’s quite different for the Clipper Race to be part of something much bigger and it’ got such a big profile around the world.”

For GREAT Britain Skipper, Andy Burns, and his team they are thinking of trying something new: “My crew are ready, we are going to race it a little be differently to how we would normally race. it’s a short race so we are going to pull out all the stops and hopefully do well.”

In Clipper Race terms, the 630 nautical mile, race to Hobart is a short hop compared to the ocean crossings they are used to. Three-time Clipper Race Skipper of Unicef, Bob Beggs, said: “The crew are really focused on this they really want to get out there and enjoy the race. It’s a coastal race as opposed to the ocean ones we have been doing so a lot of the time mainland Australia is in view and the views going down to Tasmania are fantastic. So, it’s a great race, a great spectacle and everyone is geared up for it.”

The wind is still looking like north easterlies and perfect conditions for reaching all the way to Hobart, Liverpool 2018 Skipper Lance Shepherd said: “I am looking forward to a good strong downwind leg. We’ve not had the true downwinds yet that we were expecting on the race so far getting here. But on this one looking at the forecast its going to be a good downwind run, good fast boat speeds, nice reaching sailing and everybody enjoying it.”

After negotiating the start and hopefully cruising down the east coast of Australia there are still a few tactical decisions to be made with eddies and light airs to be cautious of Garmin Skipper Gaetan Thomas looked to challenges ahead: “Big race start, gorgeous boats, hoping not to collide with anyone and arrive early for New Year’s Eve. Will be interesting, weather looks great, maybe a bit of wind holes near Tasmania as always so we will see what happens.”

Ahead of his third Sydney Hobart PSP Logistics Skipper, Matt Mitchell, shared his thoughts on the race start: “It’s quite busy, best advice is don’t hit anything.” Not wanting to give away any of his tactics he joked that the message to his crew will be: “don’t mess up!”

For Skipper Conall Morrison, he has only every experienced the race as a spectator but is looking forward to returning to Hobart: “It’s an iconic race and its really exciting that its part of the Clipper Race this year. I was down in Hobart last year with the Clipper 68s loved it so looking forward to being back and this year racing.”

The weather report has remained consistent with north easterlies building from 10 knots during race start to fairly consistent 15-20 knots expected. These conditions will mean the Clipper 70s will be able to reach downwind for the majority of the 630 miles.

The fleet is expected into Hobart between the 30-31 December just in time to celebrate the New Year.

Watch the live stream of the Race Start from the official Sydney Hobart website and track the teams progress on the Clipper Race Viewer.

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