February 6, 2023

Byte Class Technology

Byte Class Technology & Sports Update

Local yachts under pressure as overseas boats vie for Sydney to Hobart honours | Sydney to Hobart yacht race

Australia’s recent domination of Sydney to Hobart overall honours is under threat from a high-quality contingent of overseas boats in this year’s race.

With handicap colossus Ichi Ban not racing this year, Australia’s recent ironclad grip on overall Sydney to Hobart honours could be loosened, with a number of high-quality overseas boats competing.

Local yachts have taken out overall honours in each of the last four races, and 12 of the last 13.

With owner Matt Allen choosing not to race Ichi Ban after its record-equalling third win last year, there will be plenty of capable hopefuls challenging for the Tattersall Cup, the trophy awarded to the overall winner.

Pre-race weather forecasts suggest it is unlikely to be a small-boat race, with yachts in the 60-to-70-foot range and the always competitive TP52 contingent most likely to feature.

“These conditions look like it’s going be a pretty fast race,” Matt Donald, co-owner of TP52 Gweilo, which finished second overall in 2019, said.

“If we can get down [to Hobart] early on the 28th then we’ve got some chance of maybe winning on handicap.”

One of the most-fancied local boats is Tasmanian 66-footer Alive, which took overall honours in 2018.

“I’m confident we’ll have a good race but I’m not confident we’d win,” Alive skipper Duncan Hine told AAP.

Donald and Hine are both wary of the eight overseas entrants.

“We have [New Zealand’s] Caro, which is probably one of the best boats out there at the moment in the 52 world. You’ve got Warrior Won [from America],” Donald said.

“[From Australia] Quest, that does very well every year, Celestial, Zen, so the fleet is deep around that [mid-sized] theme.

“Then you’ve got ones that are slightly bigger, like Whisper and Alive. And URM, Moneypenny, they are racing really well this year, so it’s going to be competitive.”

Botin 52-footer Caro, which was launched last year, underlined her credentials by winning Division 1 of the 2022 Australian Yachting championship in Hamilton Island, beating several local TP52s, including Ichi Ban.

British 38-footer Sunrise, which will have Australian navigator Adrienne Cahalan on board, was the overall winner of the 2021 Fastnet and second in the Middle Sea race. Earlier this year she won her division of the RORC Caribbean 600.

TP52 Warrior Won took overall honours at this year’s RORC Caribbean 600 and won her division of the Newport Bermuda race.

“If we can hang in the wake of the big boats we will do really well, assuming we sail the boat well. It’s sailors who win races, not boats,” Warrior Won’s skipper and owner Chris Sheehan told AAP.

There are potentially even more contenders this year, with the two-handed division eligible to win the Tattersall Cup for the first time after making their race debut in 2021.

Rupert Henry’s and Greg O’Shea’s 34-footer Mistral was the overall winner in this month’s Cabbage Tree Island race, in which all three placegetters were two-handed boats.