One in, one out
“With regret, I advised the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia today that Trading Network / Alye Parusa will not be participating in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart,” said McRae. “The reality is that it was not a difficult decision. Our keel had severe cracks and simply could not be repaired. The new keel will be completed this Friday however the time to fit the keel to our yacht and to step and rig the mast will take us past the point of arriving in Sydney with enough time for me to train our Russian crew and get over the start line on Boxing Day.
“This is probably one of the most difficult situations one can be in. Our nine crew from Russia had committed to arriving in Sydney and luckily seven guys have been accommodated on another yacht, however for the remaining two, the chance of a lifetime may have passed them by.
“I’d like to mention my two fellow West Australian crew, Tony Strickland, who put in an enormous amount of his personal time helping me, and Chris Kelly. Both of these guys have been working behind the scene assisting me in our attempt and my feelings extend to them both.
“Auckland has some of the finest facilities and skilled yachting personal in the world. They have all worked tirelessly over the past month preparing our yacht and most importantly, showing endless support and encouragement.
“In particular Reid Yacht Services has co-ordinate a mammoth entourage of workers and I thank them very much. North Sails New Zealand and France have as well worked around the clock building our new sail wardrobe. Aimecs engineering and Holten marine have been working 20 hour shifts under the guidance of my designer, Jaap van der Neut, building the new keel.
“My supporters and family have shared our sadness. For me personally it is one of the lowest points in my yachting career however I have always believed that after every storm there is a calm bringing fair winds and weather.
“Our next journey on Alye Parusa will commence early January when I set sail to the Falklands, Antigua and Falmouth in the UK.
“This was perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity for an Australian-Russian crew to share such a wonderful experience in one of the world’s premier offshore races on board an 85ft maxi.
“Perhaps we may have been line honours contenders? Perhaps we may discover this next year?” concluded McRae.
In other Rolex Sydney Hobart news, Alan Brierty’s brand new Limit is leaving Docklands, Melbourne, this afternoon for the delivery trip to Sydney.
Docklands is where it all began on Australia Day this year when Brierty shook hands with Mornington boat builder Mal Hart, the pair agreeing Hart would take charge of construction of the new Reichel/Pugh 62 while Darkhorse Yachting would look after the on board systems.
With almost a full complement of Rolex Sydney Hobart crew aboard, sailing master Roger Hickman and Brierty will use the trip to Sydney to put the boat through its paces following its salt water launch just a week ago.
“We’ve done a couple of test sails in pretty fresh Melbourne breezes and there didn’t seem to be any gremlins,” said Hickman this afternoon while the crew stocked the boat with sails, safety gear and enough food and water for the two to three day trip ahead of forecast southerlies.
“We’ll sail and race to Sydney. It will give us a chance to use all the sails and go through the manoeuvres pre-Rolex Sydney Hobart,” Hickman added.
Once in Sydney, some of the crew will step aboard Brierty’s Sydney 38 Limit for this weekend’s Rolex Trophy One Design Series which starts Friday, 12 December, for the Farr 40s and Saturday for the remaining classes.
The withdrawal of Trading Network / Alye Parusa leaves a fleet of 105 for the 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart with Victorian Farr 55 Living Doll still in doubt after breaking its mast on Port Phillip Bay last Saturday.
Seven of the original nine Russians that were sailing on Alye Parusa will now crew on the Sydney 38 Getaway-Sailing 2.