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Fleet tested early in Sydney Hobart Race >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News

Sydney, Australia (December 26, 2021) – The 76th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race got underway today in 15-25 knot southerly winds with clouds in the distance forewarning of showers and thunderstorms later in the day.

Also threatening the starters was the requirement for all crews to pass COVID-19 tests 72 hours before the race, and with some crew still waiting for their PCR test results before the start on Sydney Harbour, the mandate was for any entrant to immediately retire if a crew member gets a message saying they have tested positive for COVID-19.

That happened as the fleet dropped from 89 to 88 shortly before the start when the Corby 49 Vamp, owned by Donald Graham and Leander Klohs, withdrew due to one of its crew being confirmed as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.

But it was the strong winds and high seas which proved more formidable as 12 entries were forced to withdraw due to the battering on the first night. The strong southerly that reached up to 30 knots, along with big seas, reduced the fleet from 88 at the start of the race to 76 boats.

Among the first retirements was the Reichel/Pugh 69 Moneypenny, owned and skippered by Sean Langman. It was forced to turn around and return to Sydney due to a broken forestay.

On approach to Sydney Heads, Langman said: “It wasn’t ideal breaking the forestay. We were doing quite a bit of short tacking and there was a bit of current and the seas were up. Let’s say it was pretty fruity. We were using new technology with foils. We had faith in the new system, I suppose you learn from this.”

Moneypenny, Blink (torn mainsail), and Mako (damaged main) were the early casualties. By 9:30 pm, they were joined by URM (damaged main), Hip-Nautic (damaged main), TSA Management (damaged main), No Limit (crew with dislocated shoulder), Minerva (damaged main), Mille Sabords (damaged main), Nautical Circle (rigging issues), White Noise (window damage), and Zen (minor injury).

In the chase for line honours, the pecking order for the three 100-footers had Black Jack (QLD) overtaking Christian Beck’s LawConnect (NSW), with less than two miles separating the pair. SHK Scallywag 100 (Hong Kong) was a further three miles behind, while the Botin 80 Stefan Racing was clinging on, three miles astern of the Hong Kong boat.

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The 628 nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be the 76th edition in 2021 with a fleet of 91 boats that include three international entries. One hundred fifty seven teams set off in 2019 for the 75th edition, but since then the 2020 race was cancelled due to the pandemic and uncertainty has hovered this year.

From the start in Sydney Harbour, the fleet sails out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait (which divides the mainland from the island State of Tasmania), then down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to the historic port city of Hobart.

Source: RSHYR

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