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2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - New Zealand’s Everlasting Imprint

2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - New Zealand’s Everlasting Imprint
Michael Carter and Tracey Carter, co-skippers of Allegresse © salty dingo pty ltd

2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - New Zealand’s Everlasting Imprint

New Zealand's everlasting imprint on Sydney Hobart history.

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is the crown jewel of Australian ocean racing, but New Zealand’s presence in the event has left a rich and everlasting imprint on its history. On Friday, race organisers, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, lauded the entry of 10 international yachts in this year’s fleet of 103 boats, including 18 two-handed entries. The 10 are from the United States, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Caledonia and New Zealand.

From New Zealand there are three boats in the fleet. They are: Caro, skippered by Max Klink, along with two two-handed entries, Michael and Tracey Carter’s Bruce Clarke 42, Allegresse and Marc Michel’s Dehler 30, OD Niksen. The Rolex 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. So far it has been won by International yachts on 13 occasions. Four of those can be attributed to New Zealanders, with the most recent international winner being Jim Delegat’s New Zealand boat Giacomo in 2016.

However, New Zealand’s history with the race dates back to its second of 77 editions in 1946. That year the Logan designed 52-footer Ilex, owned by Wellington businessman Norman Thomas since 1944, was the first New Zealand boat to race the Sydney Hobart. Ilex, launched in 1903, had a number of owners before Thomas. He retired from the race at Cape Raoul, the headland marking the entry to Storm Bay and Hobart.

Ilex sailed from Wellington to Sydney for the start and back to Wellington afterwards. Altogether the race and return trip took about 4,000 nautical miles. Since Ilex’s Sydney Hobart, many New Zealand boats have sailed the race in pursuit of the Tattersall Cup (awarded to the Overall winner) and the John H Illingworth Challenge Cup for Line Honours.

Hundreds of New Zealand sailors, professional and amateur, have also sailed in crews from various nations throughout the fleet each year. Michael Carter says, “Historically, the Sydney Hobart has been an important event for New Zealand sailors. From the 70’s to the 90’s quite a few boats made the trip there and back. There were even selection trials for the three-boat team to contest The Southern Cross Cup. There were feeder races and races home etc.”

Carter continued, “My personal connection with the race comes from when I lived in Melbourne and particularly when I sailed a few seasons with Bruce Taylor with whom I am sure you are very familiar. (Taylor will skipper Chutzpah in his 42nd Hobart this year). “There is a bit of folklore around our club (Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club) about the good old days when anyone and any boat could come over the ditch and take part. We’re trying to encourage others by showing that you don’t have to have a carbon fibre boat and black sails to do this race.”

Four New Zealand boats have won the Tattersall Cup: Chris Brouzaid’s Rainbow in 1967, Brin Wilson’s Pathfinder in 1971, the NZ Round the World Committee’s New Zealand, skippered by the famous Peter Blake in 1980 and Jim Delegat’s Giacomo in 2016. New Zealand boats have also won Line Honours seven times: J.V Davern’s Fidelis in 1966, Tom Clark’s Buccaneer in 1970, New Zealand in 1980 (when she took the line and overall double) and 1984, Grant Dalton’s NZ Endeavour in 1992 and Neville Crichton’s Alfa Romeo (90ft) in 2002 and (100ft) 2009.

Written by Rupert Guinness | RSHYR Media