Eighty-four year-old Syd Fischer, a legend in ocean racing history, has earned overall victory in ORCi scoring in the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in a field of 38 ORCi teams. This is Fischer’s 46th offshore season with his latest Ragamuffin, a Farr-designed TP52 originally from San Diego. He has completed 42 Hobart races, won overall once earlier in 1992 and was runner-up last year, and took line honors twice with his German Frers-designed maxi Ragamuffin, in 1988 and 1990.
But victory did not come easy, as Chris Bull’s runner-up Cookson 50 Jazz was leading for most of the race.
“I’d say this was an average one for conditions,” said Bull of this year’s race. “It had quite a lot of tough upwind, which is what you’d expect of this race and we like that. It enabled us in the first two thirds of the race to pull away from the main rivals of our size and that was better than expected. We had 25-35 knots and we didn’t think that would continue as long.”
The difficult patch for Jazz was subsequently off the east coast of Tasmania where it was all too possible to get caught in a wind hole and crews had to rely on the progress of the boats ahead of them to negotiate a way through. One third of the way down the Tasman coast, Bull admitted they did stop for just over an hour.
TP52s got away
from her and it
Bay that Jazz
was able to not
only reel them
in, but to put
just when it
seemed that they
had it in the
bag, it went
coming up the
This allowed Ragamuffin to close in from astern and ultimately to beat them by only 11 minutes in corrected time. “So it happened again,” said Bull with a sigh, having on two previous occasions finished second in the southern hemisphere’s most prestigious yacht race.
The win for Fischer adds to his numerous recent titles, including being crowned the CYCA’s Blue Water Champion (2007-2008), the ninth time he had won this coveted title and finished third in the 2009-2010 Blue Water Pointscore. Fischer also placed third in the 2010/2011 Blue Water Pointscore and won the Cape Byron Series (for those yachts holding an ORCi rating certificate).
Division 2 winner was Darryl Hodgkinson’s Beneteau First 45 Victoire, who placed 8th overall, defeating runner-up Paul Clitheroe's Beneteau 45 Balance by 45 minutes in corrected time. The Division 3 winner was Roger Hickman’s Farr 43 Wild Rose, who placed an impressive 5th overall in a race dominated by the larger and faster yachts, and defeated runner-up Robbo Robertson's Beneteau First 40 Lunchtime Legend by 32 minutes in corrected time.
Photos: Rolex / Daniel Forster