British snow affects Rolex Sydney Hobart Race
It might be summer in Australia but snow is causing havoc for Rolex Sydney Hobart competitors. The major blanketing of the UK has frozen the travel plans of Australia-bound competitors scheduled to leave Heathrow Airport this week.
Niklas Zennstrom’s handicap favourite Ràn is the worst affected with seven crew stranded in the extreme ice and snow chill. Titania of Cowes is also facing a nervous wait, with the departure of two crew members still up in the air.
The big-freeze has brought Heathrow to a standstill, stranding thousands of passengers, with further delays and cancellations forecast for later this week.
Ràn boat manager Wade Morgan is remaining optimistic, especially since the stranded crew is part of the team’s backbone. “It’s a small inconvenience but one we’ll get through,’’ he said. “The seven who are stuck are some of the most senior on the team.”
Morgan said the travel chaos had already had a ripple effect for the 13 crew already in Australia, with the delay forcing a planned training day to be pushed back to later this week. “It’s not an ideal situation but because most of the guys sail year round on the boat, crew training is not a primary part of our preparation, everyone is at a high standard."
In the meantime Morgan said the crew aboard the fast-paced 72ft yacht, winner of last year’s Rolex Fastnet Race was making the best of a bad situation. “The guys who are looking at the weather can do that anywhere in the world, they are using their time constructively and so are we. There are 13 guys in Sydney and we are making sure we are on top of all the systems and will press on with checking over the boat and sail testing as planned.”
Titania of Cowes boat captain Gina Hewson said sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnson and Mark Corvell managed to leave the UK today.
However, she said it was a nail-biting wait to see if two remaining crew can escape the chill in time for the December 26 start.
“We’ve got two on their way and two to go,’’ she said. “But I’m confident; you have to be positive, after all it’s the weather and you can’t control that.’’