For Some Reason It Made Me Sad To See AIS Icons Of Glamour Yachts Already Travelling North, Back Up The East Coast, On December 30th & 31st. They May Have Crossed The Sydney-Hobart Finish Line, But The Real Heroes Of The Race Were Still Out There, Clawing Their Way South To THE Derwent, To Complete The Slowest Race For 17 Years.

In many ways, ocean racing has become a monoculture. To succeed you must be skilled and tough and rich, but for most owners with a realistic chance of victory, the broader values, ambitions, and motivations of the founders of the event have disappeared amid the ruthless need for a trophy. (QED the protest circus at the conclusion of the race.)

The first ‘Hobart’ sailors were friends from the newly formed Cruising Yacht Club (now the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia), who decided on a summer cruise together to Hobart. Before they left Sydney, British yachtsman John Illingworth joined the group and proposed making it a race. The Royal Navy captain had been stationed in Sydney during the war. It was just months after the armistice and life was returning to its peace-time rhythms. In the interests of keeping the focus on ‘cruising’, spinnakers were not permitted.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love the thrill of going fast and the affirmation of winning as much as the next person. It’s just that there’s so much more to sailing than the current deep and narrow channel, especially if you own an old wooden boat. Read on.

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