Jeremy Robinson and double Olympic medallist Simon Hiscock chat to yachtingworld.com about Sydney Hobart prospects aboard Hugo Boss
The current weather situation shows that Rolex Sydney Hobart, which starts on Boxing Day, could progress into another breezy one ensuring a swift ride to the finish.
According to Barry Hanstrum from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology the race will start off from Sydney in 5-10kts from the north with a chance of increasing to 20-30kts. And with five super-fast maxi yachts including Alfa Romeo, Wild Oats, Skandia, Konica Minolta and AAPT, there’s every chance race record could be smashed. The record was set by the Volvo 60 Nokia in 1999 with a time of 1 day, 19 hours and 48 minutes.
For the sole British entry Alex Thomson and team on the Open 60 Hugo Boss however, the conditions are not particularly favourable with Thomson admitting: “We need at least 30kts to make any impact on the fleet.” For Thomson, who’s using the event as a training platform for future events it’s the perfect opportunity to race with a crew and learn from them.
Among Thomson’s crew are some of the most highly respected international sailors some of whom such as Dick Parker and Nick Moloney who are Sydney Hobart Veterans.
Jeremy Robinson is another crewmember who’s notched up a fair amount of useful Sydney experience including an overall win aboard Aera last year and, the previous year when was a crew member aboard the Big Boat class winner Bounder.
Chatting to Robinson this morning about his role as navigator he confirms that they’ll need more than 20kts to do anything special in the race. Robinson explained the strategy: ” For us to make an impact, in other words our optimum conditions, would be a downwind start (northerly) from the Heads. We’ll probably get downwind for the first few hours. In reality I think we’ll get down wind conditions for a bit then end up on the wind. I predict we come out of Sydney Heads with spinnaker up, then hit a front after about a couple of 100 miles and then be on the wind for the rest of the way.
“Once you’re clear the heads it’s fairly straight to Tasmania. Then round Cape Raoul and up the Derwent River but the race often starts again up the Derwent River. Basically you want to get up the Derwent River in daylight because at the night the wind just drops off completely. It’s a bit like trying to sail up Southampton Water in the dark. You finish up the Derwent River. It’s like coming round the Needles and finishing up at Southampton.”
As a Sydney Hobart ‘old hand’ Robinson knows exactly what to expect during this gruelling race but says he’s really looking forward to the experience of racing it on the Open 60. “You always worry because it’s always a brutal race. We had a lot of wind and the sea was massive last year, so yes, I’m wary of that of that scenario. Basically you know it’s going to be quite painful at some stage. However, I’ve sailed with Alex a couple of times and the Open 60 is a great boat, great fun, particularly offwind, so yes, can’t wait to get out there.”
Another crewmember itching to get out there is 49er double Olympic medallist Simon Hiscock. Hiscock is also a fairly useful crewmember to have on board but as a first timer in the race and a first timer to offshore racing he’s undoubtedly going to have an interesting time. He’s only been on the boat twice, once during the Gotlund Runt, so he’s not really sure what to expect.
Chatting about his forthcoming baptism of fire into offshore racing Hiscock said: “Yes, It’s basically my introduction to offshore racing. I thought it would be a good experience and a good opportunity to see the other side of the sport!
“Not really sure of my role on the boat yet but imagine it to be a bit of everything. I think the plan is to have watches of three hours. I suspect I’ll end up trimming mainly with a bit of a go of everything including helming. But I’m sure that will be defined by the weather and circumstances as they happen.”
And seasickness? “I don’t suffer from it, well not as far as I know. But I’ve been assured by Mr [Jeremy] Robinson that, with the sort of upwind pounding we’re likely experience, I will not escape lightly. We shall see.”