The Great Veteran's Race

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 13 May 2024 00:38

Moored Rushcutters Bay, Port Jackson
Wind: S, F4 - moderate breeze
Sea: calm Swell: nil
Weather: overcast, showers, mild

This week's highlight was the CYCA's much anticipated 'Great Veteran's Race', open to boats which were built prior to 1976, or between 1975 and 1991 for the IOR Era Division, and which have competed in a Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Unfortunately the conditions were far from ideal for Sylph, or indeed for simply enjoying the race, with light winds and frequent showers. Given the light conditions we opted for the old number one genoa, which proved to be a sound decision. It was a pursuit start and Sylph having the biggest handicap started at 1200, crossing the start line first in her division. There were five other boats in division two, with Valhalla, a 37 foot Alan Buchanan designed sloop, starting next eight minutes later, and the last boat across the start line being Solvieg, a Halvorsen 36 foot cutter built in 1950 and a previous winner of the S2H race, sixteen minutes later.

With the light conditions, as mentioned, it was never going to be Sylph's race, but our favourable handicap was significantly weakened as the winds were less than five knots at the start but then as Solvieg crossed the line the winds freshened to about ten knots, which meant the small lead we had managed to open in that critical sixteen minutes was quickly gobbled up by the light and nimble old Sydney to Hobart flyer, and I watched Solvieg prove her pedigree as she overtook us when we were only half way to the first mark.

However, despite the light conditions it was a successful race, albeit the committee boat wisely choosing to shorten the course. Solvieg won convincingly, crossing the finish line at 1413, Sylph crossing the line eight minutes later for fifth place, and the last boat, Duet, a 1967 Swanson 36, crossing the line at a minute behind Sylph. So, overall, I think the handicappers did a pretty good job, assisted by the race committee's decision to shorten the course.

The crew for the day were Ada, Kate and Shue. Regrettable a key crew member, Chris, Sylph's co-skipper for last year's S2H, reported in sick. Given this significant limitation, the crew's performance was excellent and, despite the light winds and many showers, crew moral remained high, helped by some sausage rolls provided by Ada, served hot out of Sylph's oven on the downwind leg, and a glass of wine provided by Kate as we crossed the finish line. Thank you Ada, Kate and Shue for such excellent support.

Now that the Great Veteran's race is behind us, it is time to look forward to getting Sylph ready for the return trip to Adelaide. The wind is strong from the south today and tomorrow, then turning light and variable on Wednesday, then back into the south on Friday. My plan is therefore to store ship tomorrow with a view to being ready to get under way on Wednesday morning. We will make the best use of what wind there is and hopefully have the East Coast Current assisting our passage south, pulling in somewhere convenient when the winds turn contrary again. I am not expecting to get very far on this initial leg but at least we will be on our way.

All is well.