Saturday 29 December 2012

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

A trek past a Moreton Bay Fig armed with food, drink and a destination in mind screams Sydney summer to me.

And here we are at Middle Cove Mosman to see the race. The sun is out for a bit, and some are willing to go the extra mile for a better view.

I’ve arrived reasonably early and overhear a boating adventure which Chris kindly agrees to share.

Chris’s story

Chris was in a Hood (small yacht) with his close friend Rod, heading from Sirius Cove in Mosman to Pittwater. They were offshore from Palm Beach and owing to almost windless weather were reliant on their outboard motor when it happened.

Chris had been looking at yachts closer to shore when all at once a girl rushed onto the deck of one and suddenly started taking down its sails. Then the yacht disappeared. Realising they needed to act quickly he started taking their sails down too. He can’t remember if he managed to get the jib down or not when the squall came up from nowhere. It violently ripped the mains and Chris clung onto the mast.
Using the outboard motor, Rod only just managed to steer the boat into the wind. The roar of the weather made it impossible to talk. It was just them and this tremendously deep sea. Chris thought they’d had it – that they’d be swamped for sure. The freak weather lasted fifteen minutes or so then cleared. He looked out to the other yachts and they’d been completely scattered out to sea. All had survived it.

This is a good entrĂ©e to a race that’s notoriously difficult to navigate in harsh, sometime freak weather conditions, particularly through the perilous Bass Strait. Yet the supermaxi Wild Oats XI out on Middle Harbour seems like a panther on a leash in a pond. While Chris has been talking, she’s been prowling up and down, seeming to be everywhere at once. How’s that Old Spice ad go? Look at me now look at your man? Well she’s like that.

And then they're off! The Southerly breeze makes conditions exceptional for the sail down the harbour and they move at speed.

Wild Oats sweeps out of the heads past Watsons Bay, having gained a comfortable lead, bound for Hobart and her third win in a row.

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