The Sydney Hobart yacht race has been run and won again although not without controversy. It was a speedy race this year starting as usual at lunchtime on Boxing Day with the first yachts reaching Hobart at nightfall of the 27th. In fact I think five yachts arrived inside the record time set by Perpetual Loyal in 2016
As always Line Honours was hotly contested by the big maxi yachts including previous winners Wild Oats XI and Infotrack formerly Perpetual Loyal.
The controversy was over an incident between Wild Oats XI and Comanche in Sydney Harbour at the start of the race. I was watching on television when this happened and as Wild Oats XI tacked very close to Comanche the two came very close to colliding. Comanche raised a red protest flag almost at once as they were forced to change course. The race commentators explained that Comanche would have had right of way and that Wild Oats might do what they called penalty turns to avoid being given a penalty later. My understanding of this is that it is similar to where in motor racing if a car gains an advantage by cutting a corner while overtaking they must give the place back to the other car. However, as far as I know Wild Oats XI did not do this and the two big yachts raced each other all the way to the Derwent sometimes one leading and sometimes the other. In the Derwent River as often happens Comanche could not get enough wind and Wild Oats XI sailed past her to reach the finishing line twenty-six minutes ahead of her rival.
The next day there was a three hour hearing and the judges found that Wild Oats XI was at fault in the incident back in Sydney Harbour and gave her a one hour penalty. Of course that meant that Comanche now found herself the Line Honours winner. Guess Wild Oats XI should have done those penalty turns.
The initial provisional result was reversed to give Cooney a first line honours victory with his new boat in a record time of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds, bettering by 4 hours 15 minutes, 56 seconds the previous benchmark set in 2016. – http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/news/2017/day-3/ldv-comanche-secures-line-honours-and-the-race-record/
I decided to make my visit to the yachts on Friday as the weather forecast was better and many yachts had arrived by that time, several more arrived while I was there. It is always nice to see them sailing in. They drop their sails after passing the finish line and before entering Constitution Dock they do a lap of honour past the shed at Princes Wharf where they are applauded by the patrons of the Taste of Tasmania before being directed to a berth and handed the traditional slab of beer.
I always follow the same routine at the dock. I walk out on to the temporary pontoons between the lines of yachts. It is usually very crowded and there are a lot of obstacles to taking photos like people with prams, crew members moving luggage or gear, small children with ice creams, men with cans of beer standing around near their yachts and of course other photographers. The pontoons are quite steady to walk on but I confess that I like to stand near a bollard when taking a picture because I feel more secure that way.
I like to photograph the Line Honours Winner and the overall winner on handicap if it has been decided by the time I get there. This year’s overall winner was Ichi Ban a yacht that I usually try to photograph as part of a group of familiar names that I like to look out for. Helsal 3 is another of these.
Yachts with unusual names, interesting colour schemes or those from overseas are also ones that I like to photograph. My favourite this year was “Occasional Coarse Language”. Very appropriate on a racing yacht I imagine.
There was quite a bit of activity on the yachts too. As many had not long arrived there was a lot of unpacking, cleaning and stowing of gear going on so I was able to get some pictures of that too.
After my walk I bought some lunch at one of the food vans set up nearby. I finished up the day by visiting the Taste of Tasmania over on Princes Wharf but I’ll write about that elsewhere.