The little sloop Gillawa has finally finished the grueling 60th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – without damage to boat or crew.
Gillawa, a Cavalier 945 skippered by David Kent from the inland Canberra Yacht Club, crossed the finish line off Hobart’s Castray Esplanade at 07:33:19 hours this morning, taking 7 days 18 hours 23 minutes 19 seconds to sail the 628 nautical mile course.
By contrast, the Line Honours winner, the 90-footer Nicorette, took 2 days 16 hours 00 minutes 44 seconds – more than five days faster.
Crews of yachts already in Constitution Dock and early morning strollers around the waterfront gave Kent and his five other crew members a rousing reception as they motored into the historic dock.
Gillawa was the 59th boat to finish the race, which saw 57 boats retire from the fleet of 116 that set sail from Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day, 26 December 2004, only to encounter more than 50 hours of galeforce winds and rough seas from the second morning of the race.
“It was a real hard slog, but we did not suffer any damage,” Kent said after berthing this morning. “However, the boat did not suffer any damage and the crew handled the demanding condition well.
“For us it was 90 per cent on the wind – winds consistently up to 36 knots, gusting to 47 knots.
“However, we did have our exciting moments – clocking 12.5 knots as we ran down the New South Wales South Coast under full main with a number three jib poled out.
“Then it was battling to windward for hours and hours with three reefs in the main and a storm jib.
Kent keeps Gillawa on Pittwater, north of Sydney, and uses the boat largely to train young people from Canberra in offshore sailing.
“The crew was not hugely experienced, although they had done the qualifying passages, which is why I decided to shelter in Twofold Bay at Eden to allow the crew to re-group,” Kent added.
The crew of six comprised four men and two women, their ages ranging from 19 to 57, four coming living in Canberra, one from Nowra and one from Darwin.