Crosbie Lorimer: There's the usual pre-race buzz here at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia as the crews go through their final preparations for this classic ocean race to Hobart. But the tension that often accompanies the prospect of a strong southerly front somewhere down the track is replaced by a sense of excitement here, brought on by a forecast that predicts strong downwind running conditions all the way to Tasman Light. We asked the skippers from boats of all sizes what they made of this forecast, how they think they're going to fare, and who they have as short odds winners for the Tattersall's Cup for the overall handicap win.
Bruce Taylor: The weather actually looks fantastic for the first three quarters of the race, but the last maybe hundred miles will very much depend upon ... there's a change coming up the Tassie coast, and very much depend upon how far down the track we get before the change hits us.
I think the Italiano boat, which is a Cookson 50...
Crosbie Lorimer: This is Mascalzone Latino.
Bruce Taylor: Yep, it's a Cookson 50. They've got a lot of crew from America's Cup campaigns.
Ichi Ban would have to be good. Patrice, I think sort of getting down their our sized boats.
Michael Spies: Fresh, I'd be surprised if there's not a record on the horizon there. You've got to bear... everyone forgets that Loyal, when it broke its record last year, it actually slowed down for a fair while and doesn't appear to be any of that this year.
Probably Barlow 66 is here. Last year's winner, Giacoma.
Crosbie Lorimer: Yeah.
Zoe Taylor: Yeah, it's looking pretty, so it really ... I think it's gonna come down to not making mistakes, and it's gonna come down to your crew work. Everyone's got good platforms, and it's what you're gonna do with it, to be honest
Lindsay May: Kialoa's a wonderful boat. She was built in 1964, 53 years old, and the 1971 race winner, three days, twelve hours. And at the moment, morning's routing we might be struggling to beat that.
I think handicap is probably going to be in those 50 footers. I mean they're good boats. They're top boats. They perform well anyway. So TP52, Cookson 50.
Sean Langman: The forecast is great for everybody this year. Maluka, she will be at the back of the fleet, but we'll really be enjoying the early part of the race, a bit of a transition at the end which is gonna be very tricky for us.
But we're looking forward to it as normal and looking forward to being in by New Year's Eve.
I would put some money on Patrice. I think they're a very good chance this year and obviously Matty Allen's new boat which is a bit of a dark horse.
Conrad Humphrey: I'd like to say it's relatively straightforward, this one. The breeze has been steady, and the models have been stable for two or three days now, so ... and everything seems to be relatively straightforward. And of course, the fast boats shouldn't have to deal with that southerly change at the end, as long as we get there in good shape.
Conrad Humphrey: I think the 50 to 60 foot range is very well placed actually. I think it's gonna be a fast race certainly for the big boats. And if we can hang on to them, and we should do, it's a right sort of forecast range for us, then why not?
Maurice Young: This is the first time that Army has sailed in the Sydney Hobart in 20 years, so a forecast like this is absolutely fantastic for us. Race-wise, not so good.
Shane Kearns: Well, you know me, it's great. We're gonna win as usual. Actually, I have tempered it down a little bit this year, but only 'cause it puts so much pressure on the crew that I reckon. We'll certainly be aiming to win our division and just see how we go from there.
And we've made a booking with the Gun Runner crew at the restaurant for 8:30 on the 31st, so they better definitely be in by then.
Maurice Young: I would say the mid-fleet, the 50 footers is-
Crosbie Lorimer: Yeah.
Maurice Young: ... who would have the big advantage to that.
Shane Kearns: Well, I don't like that one about ... like everybody says, "Oh, it should be in the 50 foot range," but that's like saying a horse is gonna win the Melbourne Cup because most of the fleet is in the 50 foot range. Therefore, I'm thinking a boat around about 34 feet would be perfect.
Matt Brooks: Well, it's gonna be an exciting race. We're looking forward to this. This race is very iconic and very infamous, so we're ready for anything.
Pam Brooks: Well, we're hopeful based on the first couple of day's forecast, and we couldn't have a better crew. We're really lucky to have Adrienne Cahalan on board, so we feel like we're in very good hands.
Speaker 1: For my 39th, I think it's looking pretty damn good, one of the easiest ones. I think this is gonna be just a straight boat speed race.
Actually, I'd put my money on Wild Oats 10. They're actually gonna break through to the next weather pattern, and they're just gonna be there at the right time.
Lisa Blair: It's a little light on the start. We would prefer a little bit more wind because we're limited in our sail wardrobe.
Crosbie Lorimer: Right.
Lisa Blair: But once the wind fills in down the coast, we should have a really nice spinnaker run for most of the way down the coast. And then, when we hit the Bass Strait, we've got like some strong westerlies arriving, so there may be a little light wind hold just in the lead up to the westerlies filling in.
Crosbie Lorimer: So if you had your money, where do you think the winner might come from? What sort of bracket?
Lisa Blair: Us, of course!
Lisa Blair: I mean our goal is just to be able to offer a really great learning curve for these girls, push the boat and ourselves as hard as we can, and if we give 110%, then we know we've done everything we can to be successful in this race.