Rolex Sydney-Hobart profile


Dr Skip Sheldon with Zaraffa
 

Dr Skip Sheldon with Zaraffa

We talk to Dr Skip Sheldon owner of the IMS contender Zaraffa
Outside of the supermaxis one of the most formidable teams currently taking on the Rolex Sydney-Hobart is on American Skip Sheldon's Reichel Rugh-design Zaraffa. A 73-year-old former pathology and cell biology professor whose work took him from Hopkins and Harvard Universities ultimately to the McGill University in Montreal, Dr Sheldon has sailed all his life. While he was brought up sailing one design keelboats such as Stars and Dragons in Long Island Sound, his real passion is for offshore racing and the adventure associated with that form of the sport. Upon his retirement in 1990 Dr Sheldon had the Bill Tripp-designed IMS 55 footer Aurora built. "It won the Fastnet by 9 hours on IMS and CHS but we were disqualified in a committee hearing by a boat that said they had to duck our stern. We had helicopter footage from two different countries and there was no ducking of the stern and it was a put up job - they were mad because they were beaten," he says, our interview kicking off with one of the low points in his sailing career. 2000 saw the launch of his present boat, Zaraffa, a Reichel-Pugh designed 65 footer again optimised for IMS, that Sheldon says will be his swan song in ocean racing. This was designed before the current spate of super-maxis from the San Diego-based design house. Zaraffa in comparison has no movable ballast - be it water or a canting keel. "It is a classic old fashioned boat where we have happened to have got the keel right, we have got the righting moment right, got the upwind right and the reaching polars right," maintains Dr Sheldon. "It was built as an IMS boat, and when we sailed IRC we were happy to find it worked very well as

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