Transfusion keeps her nose ahead
Rather the vagaries of Hobart's Derwent River, known around the world as the place where countless Sydney to Hobart races have been won and lost, has Transfusion’s tactician Tom Slingsby talking down a foregone conclusion: “At any other venue I would be quietly confident. Here not all. There’s all to play for the top three boats, us, Estate Master and Voodoo Chile.
“The team is sailing well. It’s a bit of snakes and ladders and a bit of luck. We are trying to do the small things right. As tactician you have to make the call and back yourself. We are picking it as well as anyone. As long as we stay clean and have two more good races the national championship is ours.”
If that eventuates, it will be Transfusion’s fourth national crown and third on the trot: a new record.
Transfusion now leads Martin and Lisa Hill’s Estate Master by four points. Third placed Voodoo Chile, skippered by Andrew Hunn, is well within striking distance just two points adrift of Estate Master.
Today’s cool southwesterly was in the upper range this afternoon with solid gusts up to 30 knots after starting out in the high teens. A couple of massive spills among the fleet provided plenty of ooh and aah moments, and took Trevor and Steven’s overpowered Local Mocean out of races nine and ten.
IRO Nick Hutton knows the river well and is watching the smart ones figure it out. The bottom end of the course is bumpy whereas the top offers the benefit of flat water, but the disadvantage of big shifts under Hobart’s Mount Wellington when there’s a westerly influence. “The smart people will win the regatta, they always do,” he suggested this evening.
Tactician Rob Brown is one of Australia’s foremost sailors. He’s joined Michael Cooper, Craig Clifford and Richard Fader’s POW sailing for the host club, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
“We had a few problems in Sydney; we were falling over a lot in the fresh conditions,” Brown recalled. “I told the crew ‘today we are going to sail this boat like there is a beer sitting on top of the mast’. Unfortunately we drowned the beer with a huge wipeout in 30 knots of breeze.
“Conditions were really testing. I enjoyed watching the lead boats going at each other in 25-30 knots and throwing gybes in, and the crews responding.”
The game has changed for tacticians and ‘Brownie’ is up against blokes less than half his age. “Guys like David Chapman, Hamish Pepper and Tom Slingsby - their tactics are sharp. What they are thinking the crew carries off in maneuvers. This is the next generation. The game has changed.”
This afternoon at RYCT Brown organised for gold medallists Slingsby and Nathan Wilmot, tactician on Wired which is best-placed Corinthian boat, to speak to a group of young Flying 11 sailors then a room full of sailing families as well as some of the Farr 40 crews.
“The theme was ‘it doesn’t matter where you start sailing, you can get to the top’. The guys passed on some trade secrets and talked about the ups and down of their sailing careers. The response was excellent.”
This is Jeff Carter’s first time sailing in Hobart and the river’s changing mood is keeping it interesting for Edake’s crew. “Today we saw breeze 170 to 210 degrees at 15 knots and gusts to 29. Downhill the Farrs were hitting 20 knots with full masthead chutes. Changing gears quickly is pretty critical and when you hit the flat water, so is driving away to keep the speed up.”
First Australian winner of a Farr 40 World Championship, John Calvert-Jones, travelled to Hobart to watch two of today’s three races joining Geoff Stagg, Farr 40 class manager and creator, in the viewing stalls.
Calvert-Jones spoke of the enthusiasm of the Australian owners and was impressed watching the one design fleet handling the gusty conditions. “They looked as good today as when the boats were first launched,” he said.
Two final races tomorrow will wrap up the series and the Aberdeen Asset Management 2013/14 Farr 40 season that began last October in Queensland.