What can I say. Perfect conditions and a fair sea do not make for an easy race despite what the media will tell you. It is almost the opposite in some ways because you have to push the yachts harder and the tactical decisions are key to success. In heavy weather you hang on hope nothing breaks until you get there. Both situations are about endurance which is why this is such a hard race.
There was still a broken mast, rudder damage, keel damage and sailors deposited in various ports along the way with injuries. Three yachts did not finish from the fleet of 82.
When the weather is nice you are mostly dry and warm but we probably averaged two sail changes for every 3 hour watch and I am pretty sure we only had two or three, 3 hour periods without a sail change in around one hundred hours or so of sailing. For me, working on the foredeck that means a fair amount of work and we had a few all hands moments in very high winds where we could have easily broken the boat or people.
We blew a spinnaker on night one and were lucky not to loose another one soon after. On the second last day, a cold front took the wind through 180 degrees of direction change and to twice the strength at over 35 knots.
The sea turned from mild blue rolling swells to a white mass of boiling water with steep waves and the crests of each wave being thrown at us within moments. Four sail changes in 20 minutes to deal with the conditions had us soaked and exhausted.
We had gone from a spinnaker to the number 1 head sail and then down to the number two and finally the number three as conditions worsened. An hour and a half later it was back to the number two but was a long night with more sail changes, punching into the waves as we worked down the Tasmanian coast.
In the end it paid off. The last 40 miles of the 628 nautical mile race were very exciting with a procession of yachts streaming up Storm bay and into the Derwent river to Hobart. At the risk of narrowing the field for the stalkers I am not going to confirm where we finished and what division but I can say that I am as happy as I could ever hope to be, and that is pretty darn happy indeed.
Back soon with more from the dock side because that is where the real fun began...