While the sheer size and speed of the super maxis in the Sydney Hobart Race attracts the most attention, the smaller yacht divisions are just as competitive. Follow the 3 day 11 hour journey of the Sydney 38, “TSA Management”, skippered by Tony Levett. Frustrated by light air towards the end, they placed third in IRC division 3 missing top honours on corrected time.
“With the weather forecast giving the bigger boats an unbeatable advantage, we aimed for a win in in our IRC Division.
TSA Management had a clear start on the eastern shore passing the harbour mark in a good position. After a bumpy and shifty work to the sea mark it was a pleasure to bear away down the NSW coast heading 1650 to meet the favourable current further south. With the wind increasing to 12 knots, we set a Jibtop reacher and staysail.
With the wind eventually backing to NE and gradually freshening to around 16 knots, we peeled to our masthead code zero. This sail put the maximum stress on the new Trogear bowsprit recently installed. All went well sailing at close to or above our target polar speeds.
The wind continued to back and increase, and before nightfall we were able to hoist our new A3 spinnaker designed for the race by our sailing master, Andrew Buckland. By early the next morning, with the wind backing to NNE and increasing to around 20 knots, we peeled to the S3 spinnaker. As we approached Green Cape, we gybed towards the coast, as we believed the maximum wind pressure was around the 1500 E Longitude. Later that afternoon south of Gabo Island, we gybed back onto port gybe, and set the new A3 spinnaker and staysail, which we carried all the way across Bass Strait. The wind increased to over 30 knots, with a maximum of 36 knots, and waves around 5 m high. The boat handled very well with this sail configuration, averaging speeds above our predicted targets, which hadn’t been adjusted for the new spinnaker.
Sailing down the Tasmanian coast, the wind backed to west of North and lightened, so again we changed to the S2 spinnaker, before the expected southerly due before nightfall. The wind forecast for the southerly was maximum gusts of 25 knots, so we prepared for this later that evening with a no 4 headsail and full mainsail. This proved to be the case and we handled the conditions well. By midnight the wind had eased significantly, and we were able to change up to a No 1 headsail. We carried this towards the coast, and by daybreak, we were close to the Hippolyte rocks nearing Tasman Island. At this stage we were more than 20 nm in front of the other Sydney 38s and Beneteau First 40s we saw as our main challenge in our division.
This began the most frustrating part of the race, taking another 71/2 hours to do the 15 Nm to Tasman Island, and a further 6 hours to complete the 40 nm to the finish. To our dismay, we saw our main opposition yachts bringing the wind pressure around Cape Raoul. We managed to keep them at bay and beat them over the finish line, but the two First 40s were close enough to beat us on corrected IRC.
In all we were really satisfied with our race, especially the ride we had across Bass Strait. That is something I will remember for a long time.”