On select boats for the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Three’s a Crowd

“We both like to be really involved,” said Gough, adding that in the two-man race the two sailors become “skipper, cook, trimmer, tactician, radio operator and navigator”.

Serious offshore sailors often say that races are really won when preparing the boat for the race. Two-man sailing is no different, except there are fewer crew members to tackle the details.

Given the race’s difficult reputation, organizers are demanding that teams achieve qualifications, including first aid certification, radio operator training and sea survival instruction. On board fully-crewed boats, only certain sailors need to take this training. In the doubles division, both skippers must meet these requirements, in addition to completing previous (and specific) ocean races and a 24 hour stint together on their boats.

Then there is the task of equipping a boat so that it can potentially withstand winds of over 50 knots and massive seas.

“The boat has sailed some 30,000 nautical miles in two, so everything is set,” said Rod Smallman, who sails aboard Maverick, a Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600, with his co-skipper. Leeton Hulley. This is Smallman’s second race at Sydney Hobart and Hulley’s seventh. “Once it’s installed, all that’s left is to tinker with and maintain.

A decision on two-man racing equipment has been controversial.

Autopilot systems, which steer a boat to a specified compass heading or wind angle, allow the crew to set sails, perform other tasks, or rest. Unlike fully crewed boats, two-man teams can use autopilots in this year’s race.

However, the yacht club announced last year that the two-man teams would not qualify for the Tattersall Cup, which is awarded to the winner of the race in corrected time (handicap). The two-handed division is competing for its own trophy.


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