A belated birthday present for Clitheroe, who turned 60 in July, this is the first time he has won the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 628 nautical mile race, but not the boat’s first time. As Quest, it won the 2008 race for Bob Steel, and aboard again were two of his winning crew, sailing master Mike Green, a veteran of 37 Hobarts, and Adam Brown, a veteran of 29 races.
Green also won on a previous Quest in 2002 and took line honours on Ninety Seven in the storm ravaged 1993 race. Brown, was with Green in 2008 and 1993, with an additional overall win on Ragamuffin in 1992.
CYCA director Paul Clitheroe purchased his fifth Balance mid-last year and it has won two Sydney Hobarts from just five attempts. The 10 year-old Farr designed yacht has represented great value for her various owners, with other great results to her credit.
“It’s an absolute honour to win this great race. I thought the little boat had beaten us, until the Derwent River decided otherwise,” Clitheroe said.
“When you put a dumbo like me on a boat as good as this, it’s easy to win. In fact Greeny and Brownie are relieved when I leave the helm,” Clitheroe said, understating his value.
“The CYCA does a fantastic job of organizing the race and making sure everyone is safe. I thank the sponsor, Rolex and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, all the volunteers and everyone involved – it is a mammoth exercise. And to my crew; Greeny and Brownie are two of the best – and the rest of the crew who do an outstanding job.”
Of the conditions, the Sydney yachtsman said: “We had the hell beaten out of us on the first night and then it was pretty light in Bass Strait. The boat would launch into the air in the first 24 hours and you would count one, then two and if you get to three, (a crew member interjects: ‘You get the cheque book out’.
Clitheroe had a fall on the boat and hurt his back, and was aware of others in the race who came off second best, including Black Jack’s owner Peter Harburg who broke a leg, and Victoire owner Darryl Hodgkinson, who cracked ribs.
“What other sport do you know of where competitors stop and help others in trouble? We have a great sport and I’m lucky to be involved in it,” he said.
Clitheroe was convinced Quikpoint Azzurro had beaten them and so half the crew went home, back to their jobs, only to receive a phone call from their skipper to “get on a plane fast and get back here.”
“We thought they’d beat us by three hours, and after all their efforts, I hoped they get home quickly, but it wasn’t to be.”
He said the only other night he lay awake and paced was the night his three children were born. All four times were worth the wait.
Going into the 2014 Hobart, Balance was leading the chase for the CYCA’s Blue Water Point Score, inclusive of claiming second overall IRC Division 1 in the 2014 Gold Coast race and winning the Cabbage Tree Island Race. When Hobart conditions smiled down on the smaller yachts, Balance finished 36th overall, but was top TP52 and therefore accepted second overall in the BWPS.
This time around, Clitheroe has usurped Rupert Henry’s JV62, Chinese Whisper, to take the CYCA’s series crown on countback after finishing second in the Flinders Islet race, third in the Newcastle Bass Island race, third overall in November’s 180nm Cabbage Tree Island Race and now winning the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
Clitheroe’s other crew are: Nick Scott Perry, David Keddie, David Taylor, Jason Dock, Matthew Craig, Max de Montgolfier, Tom Brewer, Michael Slinn, Andrew Cribb and Clinton Evans, who becomes the first Norfolk Islander to win the race.
Di Pearson, RSHYR media