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2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Life And Times Of A ‘Trailer Sailor’

2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Life And Times Of A ‘Trailer Sailor’
Rolex Sydney Hobart 2023 - Hilary Arthure - WYUNA ©Andrea Francolini

2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Life And Times Of A ‘Trailer Sailor’

Life and times of a 'trailer sailor'

There are many anxious moments for a skipper in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, but not all of them are in the open ocean and miles away from land, nor during the race itself.  Ask Hilary Arthure, skipper of the Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600, Wyuna, one of two West Australian entries in the fleet of 103, with the JPK 11.80 Atomic Blonde being the other. 

For Arthure, the time spent transporting the boat by truck across Australia from Perth to Sydney, made for a nail-biting time as she tracked its progress day in, day out. The 3000-plus kilometre journey by road is fraught with danger for a yacht, especially in busy highway traffic that includes road trains, caravans, cars and wildlife.  

A crash, poor turn or sudden stop could cause boat damage that rules it out of the race. And it has happened and more than once. Thankfully for Arthure, that was not the case. Wyuna, that last sailed in the Sydney Hobart in 2014, but under its old name Kraken, reached Sydney intact in mid-October. 

“You are a big ‘trailer sailor’ there for a while. You do worry,” said Arthure at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia [CYCA] in Sydney where Wyuna and most of the Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet is moored. It helps that Arthure has natural calm-under-pressure, honed from her experience sailing. It also helps that the WA boats always call on the same person do the delivery when needed. 

“There's always a couple of WA boats,” Arthure said. “They always use the same guy who has the low loader and takes enormous care of the boats. For Wyuna’s return to Perth, the plan is for it to be sailed back with members of the race crew and some others who will join the boat for the delivery after it arrives in Hobart. 

Wyuna is more than a proven seaworthy boat. It is a proven race performer as well. In May, Wyuna was first in the Fremantle to Exmouth Race and in the Pot of Gold Weekend in February.  

“It’s a good boat and it was well maintained. It's hard to break it,” said Arthure. The crew is a band of friends reflecting a diverse range of experience and age, representing both the Royal Perth Yacht Club and the Fremantle Sailing Club.  

“There's quite a bit the diversity. Everybody's pretty highly skilled and quite versatile with what they can do on the boat,” said Arthure. “There are three people on board who've never done the race before, whereas the others have.” 

While getting to the start port has proven to be a challenge in itself, Arthure will not be satisfied unless the boat finishes the race. “Getting to the start line for me isn't enough,” said Arthure for whom this will be a third Sydney Hobart.  

“You have to get to the finish. We wanted to tick a few off the bucket list. We also wanted to have a great time, an adventure and for all to arrive in Hobart still friends.” With so much ongoing uncertainty about the forecast and what race conditions will be, Arthure is loath to spend too much time this week assessing weather models. 

The picture is expected to become clearer this weekend, but she anticipates Wyuna will spend at least four nights at sea. “You have to sail in the breeze you have. You might think that the technology is telling you something, but you might have something else,” she said.

“But the current is something to take note of, and to try and keep the boat in hot water. “We're not Comanche. We're not a 100-footer. But we've done things …. as a little boat, there are ways we can get any advantage."

Written by Rupert Guinness | RSHYR Media