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2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - International Entrants

2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - International Entrants
Rolex Sydney Hobart 2023 Press Conference - Internationals - Crew of Lenny ©Andrea Francolini

2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - International Entrants

Tequila sunrise turns dream into reality for US entry in Rolex Sydney Hobart.

For years, sailing in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was a dream for Charles Devanneaux, the US based French skipper of the US entry, Lenny. But Devanneaux’s decision to finally commit to the 628 nautical mile race was a relatively quick one; albeit prompted by “a couple of drinks of tequila.” “It's a dream, a dream to come,” Devanneaux said on Friday at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) in Sydney.

Devanneaux’s dream of racing in the Sydney Hobart was spawned by a close friend sailing in the 1998 edition of the race where six lives were lost. “One of my best friends did the 98’ race. Since that day, it has been on my bucket list,” said Devanneaux. But his journey to Australia really took shape last year when discussing plans for Lenny’s maiden race, the 2023 Transpac from California to Hawaii in which it placed second on division.

Over drinks, a friend suggested to Devanneaux that he also sail in the Sydney Hobart. Next morning, he woke to see a table covered in maps and charts and realised what he had committed himself too. They had planned Lenny’s route from Hawaii to Sydney, and the Sydney-Hobart race itself.

 “Honestly, it was after a couple of drinks of tequila,” Devanneaux confessed with a wry grin. Devanneaux said his goal for his Sydney Hobart debut is to have “a clean and safe race” with Lenny and to “get to the end, to the finish line” on the Derwent River. He played down Lenny’s winning prospects, labelling the boat as “fourth league” compared to the “first league” billing of the French entry, the NMYD 54, Teasing Machine.

Eric De Turckheim, the French owner of Teasing Machine was quick to rebut his compatriot when asked about any rivalry between the two Frenchmen. De Turckheim, for whom this year’s Sydney Hobart will be his third, after starts in 2016 (on a different boat) and 2018 with the current Teasing Machine, first replied: No comment.” Then he added with a smile: “You know, we've seen so many times boats of any type of category winning very big races.”

Lenny and Teasing Machine are two of 10 international yachts in this year’s race. Boats are also representing Germany, Hong Kong (2), Ireland, New Caledonia, New Zealand (2). The Sydney Hobart has long attracted international sailors keen to test their skills against the unique challenges of the Tasman Sea, Bass Strait and the Derwent River.

International yachts have claimed the Overall win on 14 occasions, the most recent being Jim Delegat’s New Zealand boat, Giacomo, in 2016. For Chris Opielok, skipper of the JPK 10.80, Rockall 8 from Germany, this year’s race is about avenging the unfinished business of his debut in 2017. That year and on a different boat - a TP52 - his race ended in Bass Strait due to boat damage.

 “It was mission uncompleted,” Opielok said. “I would really like to finish this time. That would make me happy.

For Cian McCarthy, owner and co-skipper with Sam Hunt of the Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300, Cinnamon Girl – Eden Capital, the two-handed entry from Ireland, this will be their first Sydney-Hobart. But he and Hunt have plenty of offshore racing experience behind them. Every year they alternate by racing either the Rolex Fastnet or Round Ireland races. Both also have some experience of Australian waters.

McCarthy raced in the 2000-2001 Clipper Round the World Race that included a leg finishing in Sydney. Hunt crewed in the 2011 Sydney Hobart on the Beneteau First 40, Willyama from NSW, while living in Sydney. “We have been sailing together for three or four years and have a nice kind of partnership,” said McCarthy.

For the race, the pair will not be sailing their Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300 also named Cinnamon Girl that has dominated offshore racing in Ireland for two years. Instead, they have chartered the same design from Lee Condell in Sydney. Aside from renaming it Cinnamon Girl, they also changed the set-up, running 116 square metre A sails and the extended bowsprit from their boat. Asked if he had any thoughts about the competition he will face in the two-handed division of which there are 18 entries, McCarthy said: “Not really. I think we're the only Europeans in the class; so, we wouldn't have raced against the other guys.

 “We don't know what to expect. All we know is that we've prepared as well as we could.

 "We're just going in with an open mind.”


Written by Rupert Guinness | RSHYR Media