So much for getting slower with age! The 60-year-old wooden sloop Southern Myth today completed her 15th, and her fastest, Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The crew had one day’s food to spare, having packed for the yacht’s average five-day trek south. They crossed the finish line in four days and two hours – the last of the 70th fleet to do so.
How did the yacht stare down time and win?
“We have a fantastic crew,” owner Peter Riddell said of his six crew, just before tucking into a scallop pie at Constitution Dock in Hobart.
“It demonstrated to me what real sailing’s about. I’m not interested in the money and the glitz and the rest of it.
“It’s about teamwork and we had a fantastic team, a group of people who hadn’t sailed together before and were able to bring themselves and start working as a team.
“No one person can do everything, we are absolutely dependent on each other.”
Back in her home city of Adelaide, in South Australia, Southern Myth was touted as the ‘little boat that could’ and today she proved she’s the little boat that can.
As is always the case, for the smaller boats taking on the 628-nautical mile course, they tend to cop it two or three times more than the front runners that finish in less than half the time.
That was certainly the case for Southern Myth.
As they raced from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and turned right out of Sydney Heads they were whacked with a southerly that made the 40-footer bob like a cork.
But she prevailed. “The boat is absolutely beautiful, solid as a rock,” Riddell said.
His skipper John Taylor added: “There is never any doubt, she lived up to her expectations.”
They survived the second walloping on Tasmania’s north-east tip, but the third and final almost had them when they fought the wind pushing them tenuously close to the edge of the Iron Pot lighthouse, with about 10 miles to go.
“We just weren’t sure we were going to lay it or not, with the extra breeze we were just a bit pressed,” Taylor said.
“We had all hands on deck sitting on the rail, just trying to sneak around the rock. We were caught by surprise, but we should have known, that’s what a Hobart’s all about.”
Riddell said crossing the line meant he’d met his three aims; keeping his crew safe, finishing the race and doing the best they could. Finishing last wasn’t a bother.
“Irrespective of where we came in the race, looking back on the history of Southern Myth, we’ve just done the fastest trip to Hobart. This is a great feeling.”
Southern Myth was the last of the 103 yachts to complete this year’s race, after Tasmanian yacht Landfall retired today with sail damage.
By Danielle McKay, RSHYR media