Stuart Richardson is an established sailor in Geelong, Victoria who sails on a variety of boats, and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is on his radar again, this time with a comfortable Elliott 1350 Tourer that is set up for racing and cruising.
The crew on Richardson’s Solera are old friends who get along famously and enjoy the odd prank.
When the crew list arrived at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), with crew positions in place, Brenton Carnell was listed as helmsman, his wife Jennifer as ‘chef’.
On Solera’s arrival at the CYCA, Jen Carnell was asked how hard it was to cook on the boat. Carnell looked confused; until we explained. She roared laughing. "I’ll give them Chef...
"I actually do sail and race. I do a bit of everything on the boat. I cook the hot food before we leave and freeze it, leaving me free to do the sailing bit too," she said, still laughing.
"We eat well – good hot food with a choice for breakfast of muesli, fruit and bacon and eggs. If they’re lucky, that will keep happening."
To give an example of the fare, on the delivery from Geelong to Sydney, meals included roast beef with all the trimmings - cheese sauce and all. Baked lasagne and a lamb curry were also on the menu. "We do eat well," Carnell said.
"As you can tell from that little joke, we all sail together a bit and we’re all friends. It’s the only way to go in sailing."
Fellow crew, Danielle Carroll, chipped in: "We’ll let the blokes know the rules though; 'Don’t get too comfortable. We are not waiting on you. Don’t leave dishes in the sink!'
"As you can see, the camaraderie is obvious. That’s what is so good about sailing on Solera. It shows how well we all know each other, the way we carry on."
Carnell added, "It’s a good fun crew of experienced sailors. You need these 'ingredients' when you’re doing a long race, like the Rolex Sydney Hobart."
Richardson’s yacht suits the whole image. It’s an easy step on board from the stern and is nicely appointed below.
The trip up was great, the crew agreed. "We broke the furler. Good to do it now and not in the race," Carroll said.
"We’re all ready to go. We’ve checked the fuel, all the safety equipment, re-stacked the fridge, did our COVID tests. Everyone is assigned a role so nothing is missed," she ended.
Solera, Carnell explains, "is a lot more comfortable than the DK46 (they used to sail). Easy to get on board, no steps to fall down, a good toilet and a nice couch to sit on off-watch – not to mention the quality food!"
Richardson last raced the Rolex Sydney Hobart in 2019, as skipper of his father Trevor’s boat, Moody Buoys. They placed second overall in PHS and second in PHS Division 2, so are worth keeping an eye on for PHS victory this year.
Richardson purchased Solera in November 2020 from her Kiwi designer, Greg Elliott, and she is one of two Elliott Tourers in the race. The other is Grant Chipperfield’s Joker on Tourer, also from Victoria. She is a smaller version at 12.5 metres, which Chipperfield will sail in the inaugural Two-Handed Division with Melbourne sailing identity Peter Dowdney.
"Solera is looking forward to the Rolex Sydney Hobart and we hope to continue with lots of offshore racing in 2022," Richardson ended, echoing the thoughts of all sailors.
Eighty per cent of his crew sailed the boat up to Sydney then flew back to Victoria for Christmas. They will return to Sydney on Christmas night, ready for the annual 628 nautical mile race.