Our Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (RSHYR) double handed campaign didn’t quite go as planned in Dec 2021, so Rogue Wave will be back again in 2022.
Daz and I are community minded blokes who understand and appreciate the commitment of time and knowledge that volunteers unselfishly offer to enable the support services provided by Brain Tumour Alliance Australia (BTAA) and Soldier On. Hence we were extremely proud to be supporting partners to raise community awareness...... and with any luck, a few dollars along the way.
Next step was to organise the branding to get the message out there. Tristan and Brian Pattinson from Melbourne based sign company AUSIGNkindly donated all our hull decals. I had just purchased new Roly Tasker Sails from Sam and Greg Newton in Sydney and they put me in touch with Scott Archer from Imagine Signage who created the logos. Then it was off to the Soldiers Point Community Hall, spread out the sails and apply the logos.
Logistically it takes months of preparation and significant investment in time and money to get to the start line of the RSHYR (not to mention the return leg). There is boat preparation, safety items to be inspected, training and a qualification passage to be undertaken; and of course crew preparation (physically and mentally) and race strategy planning. As one of the slower boats we know we will always be at the back of the fleet, but hey that’s cool with us. Anyone that watches the RSHYR on TV will know they focus on the front and the back of the fleet with little coverage for the vast majority of boats. That’s great news for us when seeking exposure for BTAA! In the end we did get some great video coverage from the helicopters and commentary team.
Rogue Wave decided to do an uncommanded horizontal manoeuvre, breaking several key components. I had spares coming in from the UK, Sweden and the US. A couple of mates helped me out with extra hands and the team at The Boatyard and Nelson Bay marina provided the facilities to complete the mast stepping.
All this time Daz was in Adelaide waiting for border openings. By the time he arrived it still took a couple of days work to get ready for our sail to Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club for the haul out, keel and rudder inspection and CAT 1 Safety audit. Several jobs were raised on that passage so we delayed our departure for Sydney until all were addressed. We do 95% of work ourselves where possible to keep costs down...... even managing to squeeze in a late night rebuild of the steering pedestal when the bearings failed!
Finally we departed on the qualification passage that needed to be greater than 150 nautical miles and over 24 hours. That meant we headed east from Newcastle, out to the Continental Shelf and down south east of Sydney then working our way back up to arrive at the RSHYR race centre at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) marina. Work continued on arrival with more jobs ticked off. Weather forecasts were the topic of conversation as we approached race day as this is where the strategy and tactics come into play.......do we stay inshore for better wind or offshore for better current ......... how much wind and what direction....where will that wind be in 3 hours, one day or three days....who are my divisional threats.... and the list goes on.
Race day is here and it’s off to do an early morning live interview with FOX Sports, race briefing then another interview with CH9. The Army yacht Gunrunner was berthed next to us so we attended their indigenous smoking ceremony and then it was time to depart the docks. We motored out to parade past the committee vessel with our fluro orange storm sails hoisted and hailed the committee boat on VHF radio confirming our crew details.
The cannon fires and we are on our way. We started on the western start line with the other 17 double handed competitors. A clean and conservative start was in order given the effort expended just to get here. We had a great run to the heads and turned east heading offshore in a building breeze. We had reduced sail area early knowing it was going to blow hard, so we made good progress. The breeze steadily built all evening and we saw 40 knots in gusts. The sea state was very short and sharp 3-4 metres as the south south-east wind pushed against the southerly flowing current. Waves crashed on deck and over the side relentlessly for about 20-25 hours. Sail area was reduced and then our problems started.
Daz and I ran a 2 hours on 2 hours off roster to ensure we minimised the effects of fatigue. Seasickness lurked in the shadows waiting to strike in these very uncomfortable conditions. This meant only one of us on deck at a time unless doing a manoeuvre such as reefing to reduce sail.
After reporting our retirement we headed for Jervis Bay as it was too dangerous to enter Batemans Bay in the dark in gale conditions. We picked up a mooring in Jervis Bay, had a big sleep before unsuccessfully attempting a repair. Even tried putting the autopilot controller in the oven after our Pizza!
We hand steered back to the CYCA and tracked down a spare controller that we installed in 5 mins! Problem fixed.
So as disappointing as it was given the effort expended just to make the start, there are positives as I didn’t have to do the return delivery from Hobart!
Thank you to our families, businesses, friends and you the public for all the support and best wishes. We look forward to racing for BTAA again this year.