Cream Rising

Well that was a heck of a classy win by the mighty team on Black Jack in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, holding their nerve, sailing like geniuses and taking the jewel of Australian, if not global, ocean racing. Owner Peter Harburg, who sat out this race in a display of ultimate sportsmanship and teamsmanship, as the crew knew that every body would count on the light airs up the Derwent River, was holding a grin wider than a Cheshire Cat dockside in Hobart – and you can’t blame him. Stunning win.

©Rolex / Andrea Francolini

It’s taken 14 years of determination to finally ace this classic and his team performed out of their collective skins under the guidance of skipper Mark Bradford. A solid Queensland base of sailors fusing massive experience and big boat nous was the winning elixir and having watched how cool and calm they were onboard as they ghosted at 6 knots to the winning cannon, tweaking, ooching and willing the quite beautiful Black Jack forward under Code Zero and headlamps, the team thoroughly deserved their win.

After a stunning run down the Tasman coast – an area that I think is the most picturesque stretch in world sailing, they weren’t giving up that lead, and with a boat primed for light airs, having hung on in the heavy stuff, they knew that the win was on as they rounded Tasman Island. The cream rose, the sailors sailed and the win was theirs – fantastic top level sport leaving the crew of stars on Law Connect scratching their heads and ruing a race that had promised so much for them but just fell short. So too on Scallywag – a lot of people’s pick for line honours – who just couldn’t click back into gear after their forestay issues a few miles in after the start. They’ll be back. It’s a lifetime’s work winning this one.

©Rolex / Andrea Francolini

And now our eyes turn to the IRC standings as boats filter into Hobart to set markers to be beaten. I know the feeling. A few hours here or there, a poor tack, a tidal gate miscalculation or the fickle finger of fate up the final leg and the race is done. It’s desperate, knife-edge stuff. The Sparkman & Stephens 34 ‘White Bay 6 Azzurro’ is currently the boat that has it all in their hands but won’t be finishing until early morning on New Year’s Eve and that’s a heck of a timeline away, but if they can hold their slender corrected time advantage, it will be a victory to savour. It’s a big if. It’s almost a mug’s game predicting this far out but can you imagine what it must be feeling like knowing that at every sked you’re up. You’d be willing time to pass. No sleep ’til Hobart. Awesome racing.

In the double-handed division, it’s desperately close. Jules Hall’s J99 Disko Trooper has under an hour over another Sparkman & Stephens 34 ‘Crux’ of Carlos Aydos and these two are the stand-out boats in the division – goodness me there will be a party in Hobart when these double-handers get in and quite right too. What a race they’ve sailed and what fabulous colour they’ve given the race. Truly inspirational stuff.

©Rolex / Andrea Francolini

The guessing game for the Tattersall Cup is in full flight now. Sam Haynes’s TP52 Celestial is the leader in the clubhouse and it’s going to be a nervous wait over the coming hours and days. ‘Who’s your money on’ is the question filtering around the dockside and there’s a million theories doing the rounds in the bars and hotels of Hobart – one of the most hospitable sailing venues on planet earth with knowledgeable and supporting locals – what a place to finish a yacht race.

Be under no illusion, this is a classic edition of the Rolex Sydney-Hobart with more storylines than you can possibly cover in print. A race for the ages. Whoever wins overall will thoroughly have deserved it…

Who’s your money on?

6 thoughts on “Cream Rising

  1. Sorry Magnus, but do you really believe what you write sometimes?

    Like “. Owner Peter Harburg, who sat out this race in a display of ultimate sportsmanship and teamsmanship, as the crew knew that every body would count on the light airs up the Derwent River”.

    What! Over 20 crew and the owner doesn’t get a berth. Not a great advert for ocean racing.


  2. Another great story Magnus. (always MAGNanimoUS), Hows about turning your eloquence to the 18 footer fleet?

    I just watched the December 19th Race on YouTube (18ft NSW Championship RACE 5) and what a contrast to the Sail GP the day before. Magnus, you could write a brilliant review of this race? At one point 80% of the fleet was upside down! The race, commentated by the fairest dinkum old codgers with their laid-back insights into a sport they lived and loved went on for an hour and a half, was like watching cricket on water. Sublime, and I love those Aussie accents.

    In blinding contrast was the final of Sail GP held in very similar weather the previous day. A very loud commentator yelling at us for 15 minutes and hyping up the most boring race on the planet. Talk about Deja Vu F1.

    Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Oi Oi Oi

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Neo,
      Absolutely right what you wrote, 18ft footage is fantastic. Nevertheless it is the choice of the blogger (journo) about where to put his spotlight and eloquence on. Nevertheless very kind of you to inform the thousands of fans of this side about the happenings at the 18 footers,

      Wishing everyone here a happy and a healthy new year. May the wind always blow from the right direction.

      PS: yes, the final GP50 Race had been very boring to watch. Especially after the “cowboy” had lost his mojo.

      Liked by 1 person

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