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The ‘noiseless tenor’ of those who finish the Rolex Sydney Hobart

The ‘noiseless tenor’ of those who finish the Rolex Sydney Hobart
Maluka of Kermandie - ROLEX/Daniel Forster

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife Their sober wishes never learned to stray; Along the cool sequestered vale of life They kept the noiseless tenor of their way…Thomas Gray: Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

To describe them as ‘stragglers’ would be both inelegant and demeaning: the last finishers in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race are all in.

The last to finish was the most classically designed of them all, Michael Strong’s Landfall.

If Anthony Bell believes Perpetual LOYAL’s record-breaking run to win line honours in the race is “one for the true believers”, that description must surely apply to those who believe in the Corinthian spirit of Landfall, a 13.4 metre Sparkman and Stephens Design No. 54, built 82 years ago of Huon pine by Percy Coverdale at Hobart’s Battery Point – the first S&S built outside the USA.

She first contested the race in 1952 and last contested in 2014 and 2015 when she failed to finish. This time she made  it.

This writer admired Landfall on her Hobart mooring for decades. It was the boat to own. One look at her and you, too, will be smitten.

Of the start fleet of 88, 83 have made it to the finish line, despite the last two days dogged by the doldrums down the Tasmanian east coast, across Storm Bay and up the River Derwent.

The five retirements – Dare Devil (broken rudder), Freyja (blown headsail), Koa (broken starter motor), Patrice (broken rudder) and Wild Oats XI (damage to the hydraulic ram operating the canting keel) – occurred in the first half of the race. The rest made it through.

To recap, the overall race winner is Jim Delegat’s New Zealand V70 Giacomo, which was second across the line behind Perpetual Loyal, which broke Wild Oats XI’s race record by four hours, 51 minutes and 52 seconds to establish a new time of 1 day, 13 hours, 31 minutes, 20 seconds.

After third-placed Scallywag crossed the line (all three broke the 2012 race record), they shut the door behind them, the wind died and the rest of the fleet wallowed.

Eventually that would mean Giacomo and Perpetual LOYAL topped the standings for the overall IRC and IRC Division 0 with the well-performed Chinese entry (some well-known French sailors joining them), UBOX third.

Last year’s race winner, Paul Clitheroe’s Balance finished fourth overall and again topped IRC Division 1, ahead of fellow TP52s Ichi Ban and Celestial; honours in Division 2 went to Rob Drury’s Cookson 12 Springday Pazazz ahead of the perennial Chutzpah and the South Australian Ker design Aikin – Hames Sharley, jointly skippered by Hames Sharley MD Callin Howard and Musto CEO David Oliver.

The veteran Queenslander Robbo Robertson won IRC Division 3 with the 40ft Farr-design Bravo, the former Concubine.

Perhaps the crowd favourite, Sean Langman’s Maluka of Kermandie narrowly defeated Shane Kearns’ Komatsu Azzurro and Simon Kurts’ endearing and enduring Love & War for IRC Division 4.

UBOX, Balance and Ichi Ban took the chocolates in ORCi; Imalizard, Quetzalcoatl and Moody Buoys in PHS and the Tasmanian boat Cromarty Magellan won the Corinthian division for the York Family Trophy ahead of Love & War and Komatsu Azzurro.

But it was Landfall that brought this race to a close, early in the evening yesterday, and it was a fitting end for those who are true believers in the art of sailing, those who go about ‘the noiseless tenor of their way’.

By Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR media