For One for the Road skipper Kym Butler and his son, Anthony, finishing the 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht race was a momentous and emotional occasion, for more than one reason.
The father and son duo’s last experience of the grueling 628 nautical mile was one which has haunted them for over a decade, and completing the journey for the first time has gone some way to settling the demons of their past experience.
The Butlers entered the 1998 Sydney Hobart Yacht race on board Cole 43, Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, but was one of 22 boats forced to retire as huge swell claimed the lives of six people.
For Kym, safety was the first priority, as Anthony was just 16 at the time. Ruff n Tumble turned back after entering Bass Strait. It has taken both of them several years to recover from the events of 1998.
“Both my father and I have been unable to watch media footage of the 1998 race,” said Anthony, now 26, who admits that the events of ten years ago have shaken him and his father to this day.
“Although this year we experienced some ‘champagne’ sailing this year, heading into Bass Strait for the first time since ’98 was still very concerning.”
A decade later, and the 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart was much more forgiving to the Butler family.
“The race conditions were friendly, which was fantastic. We only had a few hours with ordinary weather, apart from that it was a dream cruise. It was like being in the Whitsundays,” said Kym.
Since 1998, safety has always been the priority for the Butlers and after an arduous preparation campaign for this year’s event, they felt ready to face the challenge of the Rolex Sydney Hobart once more.
“We’ve been preparing for this for 18 months with crew training and many other regattas. The crew work was excellent so to achieve something like completing a Hobart with all the blokes still together is wonderful,” said Kym.
“Obviously it’s a childhood dream finally being realized in finishing the race. The feeling is that we are going to do it again, but at the moment we are all glad to be on dry land celebrating.”
Kym was recently named the CYCA Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year for 2007/08.
By Julius Ross/Rolex Sydney Hobart Media Team