Victoire claims Tattershall's Cup

Darryl Hodgkinson’s Cookson 50 comes out on top in the Rolex Sydney Hobart

Sunday December 29th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: Australia

Sydney plastic surgeon Darryl Hodgkinson’s Cookson 50 Victoire is the overall winner under IRC of the 69th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. The CYCA named her the winner of the Tattersall’s Cup after the only remaining yacht at sea that could beat her, Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose, ran out of time this morning, still 26 miles from the finish at 0700 local time.

Victoire crossed the finish line at 0800 yesterday and became the boat to beat. As time ticked on, it came down to Hickman and his Wild Rose, and it was a matter of waiting to see whether he could make enough ground to win the race, but, with the southwesterly conditions, was unable capitalise. Wild Rose is expected to finish at about 1000 today.

Due to the diminishing breeze, Wild Rose is not expected to finish until lunchtime today.

It means that Hodgkinson, a plastic surgeon from Sydney, has won the Rolex Sydney Hobart on his first attempt in the 50ft canting keeler he bought himself as a birthday present from her previous British owner, Chris Bull.

Bull also sailed the yacht with great success, having finished second overall in the 2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart and fourth in 2011 and again last year.

Elated with the win, Hodgkinson said, “This is the culmination of a great campaign, it’s a personal victory and one I share with all sailors who did the race. I feel somewhat humbled to have won.

“It’s an amazing achievement – and the people you gather around you, you believe in them and they believe in you. It’s also having the right equipment."

“This morning Katherine [Mrs Hodgkinson] was recounting how I came home and said I wanted to win this race. It can be a dangerous race, but the boat is so solid – and my crew – they are so good. I thought it would be a two-year program before I had a serious chance to win. My philosophy was to buy something tried and tested. It’s a real machine, this boat. Cooksons knew what they were doing when they built it.”

Hodgkinson recalled the key elements of Victoire’s win: “It was a fairly tough race. When we got that heavy northeasterly, there were moments when we had to believe in ourselves, and our yacht. We knew this boat had won before, and so we let it run. We knew we were only going to win if we pressed really hard, and we couldn’t let our foot off the pedal. And there were some moments when the foot was right down and it was like ‘oh, this is a ride’, and we were thrilled. Of course it was part terror! At one point, we had a Chinese gybe – which was pretty scary – but amazingly we got the boat up and going, and it worked out.

“But we changed our sail plan after that, and were quite surprised with the change from the A4 (headsail) to A6, how we could still maintain the speed. So I think we learned on the stick, as it were, on that one.”

Hodgkinson had nothing but high praise for his crew, including tactician and strategist Sean Kirkjian, a 17-time race veteran. “He’s a wizard, who is just playing ‘ocean chess’ all the time”. And Danny McConville, who prepares the boat and has done the same job for several past Hobart winners. “This boat was in marvelous condition before we left the dock. We had a fair bit of preparation, I’d say. He’s meticulous. The whole crew is fantastic. It’s a good win for the Club (CYCA) too."

Victoire’s navigator, Phil Eadie confirmed the meticulous preparation and ‘leaving no stone unturned’ approach and said, “A lot of work has gone into this with Darryl. He had meetings every morning for months, making sure everything works."

Eadie has sailed in 34 Hobart races, and used that experience to draw from, “I plotted the tracks of a lot of the ones we’ve won before or other people have won before, just to sort of get a feel of it – that we didn’t step too far outside of the paddock.

“There was a lot of preplanning, mostly in the last 24 hours before the start – we planned the whole race what we would do in theory, based on the weather, and had that laid out – and balanced that against reality. We have a really good weather guy, Chris Buckley from Perth, and he gave us a lot of good input.”

Generous as ever, Hodgkinson praised his opposition. “Wild Rose - it was a waiting game. Roger is always a good competitor. Sam Haynes (who finished second overall) was always going to be hot competition.”

Asked how he thought the boat’s previous owner, Chris Bull might feel, ‘Dr Darryl’ said: “Chris is a gentleman and has been so helpful. He said he would be very happy for me to win.”

Just two years ago, in December 2011, Hodgkinson was named the CYCA’s 2011 Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year. Unusually, just a year later, he was named Ocean Racer of the Year following many successes, including winning the Club’s Blue Water Point Score with his previous Victoire, a Beneteau 45.

The latest Victoire, built in New Zealand by Cookson’s and co-designed by Mick Cookson and Farr Yacht Design, claimed the Tattershall's Cup from Phil Simpfendorfer’s Victorian yacht Veloce, Celestial (Sam Haynes, NSW) and the German Ker 51 Varuna (Jens Kellinghusen). It also means another “almost” for Victorian Bruce Taylor in Chutzpah, who finished fourth.

Victoire won not only the Tattersall’s Cup as overall winner of the race under IRC, but also won the Rolex Sydney Hobart under ORCi.

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