News

2002 race review by Mike Slade, owner Canon Leopard

2002 race review by Mike Slade, owner Canon Leopard
Canon

‘The lightest Rolex Sydney/Hobart on record’ After a difficult summer (readers may recall reports of a rudder failure mid-atlantic, a ship abandonment and subsequently storm damage on the returning freighter) project managers Ocean Marine (skipper Chris Sherlock and John Bremner) oversaw a major reconstruction and modifications including a scoop extension, a second racing fin and increased keel bulb weight.

‘The lightest Rolex Sydney/Hobart on record’

 

After a difficult summer (readers may recall reports of a rudder failure mid-atlantic, a ship abandonment and subsequently storm damage on the returning freighter) project managers Ocean Marine (skipper Chris Sherlock and John Bremner) oversaw a major reconstruction and modifications including a scoop extension, a second racing fin and increased keel bulb weight.

 

A large note of thanks to all at Green Marine, Hamble Yacht Services, and others who made this turnaround possible.  Our target, a podium position in the 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart!

 

Arriving in Sydney on the 12th of November, Leopard was off loaded from the gigantic Conro ‘Texas’, Chris Sherlock and crew set about putting her back together ready for the ‘British Cup’ – a pre Rolex Sydney to Hobart Regatta around the spectacular Sydney Harbour.

 

The race favourite ‘Shockwave’ proves all conquering throughout the warm up series.  A Reichl Pugh (same design as Leopard) 90ft, water-ballasted, ultra light flyer, she proves as quick in light air as ‘Stealth’ had shown in last year’s Jubilee Regatta.  Kiwi based owner, Neville Crichton, expressed confidence to justify the short odds (A$1.40) whereas Leopard is placed second favourite @ A$ 4 with Nicorette A$ 7 and Wild Thing at A$ 8 - no one had yet quite reckoned on Grundig/Xena’s (open 60 downwind machine) chances.

 

The Rolex Sydney Hobart, scheduled to start on Boxing Day 26th of December at 1.00pm, has a handicap limit of 1.600 – Shockwave, sponsored by Alfa Romeo, gambles on a light air passage and reduces her rating from 1.685, by closing off her 6 tonne water ballast tanks and adding a 4 tonne heavier bulb, but retains the advantage of upwind trim tabs and masthead kites. 

 

Leopard, quite on the other hand, sets herself up for an upwind race by forsaking our over-lapping headsails, shortening our spinnaker pole but retaining our water-ballast.  Thereby we reduce our IRC rating from 1.635 to 1.600.

 

As Boxing Day approaches and we spar in the British Cup Series in the awesome arena of Sydney Harbour, anxious eyes are on the weather forecasts.  On the day, our worst fears are confirmed, a North/North Easterly breeze, 10-15 knots, freshening to 20 knots steady for the next 3 or 4 days.

 

THE START

 

The wind at the start was 15-20 knots from the East making a tight reach start with sleeting rain coming from heavy clouds over Sydney.  Canon Leopard won the start with Neil Macdonald and Mike Slade setting the boat up at full speed ahead and to leeward of Alpha Romeo (Shockwave).  Passing out of Sydney Harbour through East Passage Alpha Romeo’s pace led them to the sea-marks where we all turned right for Tasmania.  The rhumb-line is 182° and we had set up for 170° being best for both current and wind.  All the big boats held high to the East of the rhumb line and we were the first to dial down to course expecting backing winds later.

 

Over the two and a bit days of the race for us, the weather was dominated by high pressures in the Australian Bight and the Tasman sea joining over Tasmania and migrating slowly eastwards giving us winds between 10 and 20 knots from SE to NE over the track, building to 30 knots NE for the last few hours into Tasman Island.