The NSW TP52 Balance, the appropriately named yacht of financial guru Paul Clitheroe, is the leader for overall honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and now has to await the arrival of two European yachts tomorrow, her immediate challengers.
The Swiss boat Teasing Machine and French/Belgian entry Courrier Leon are the leading boats at sea to challenge Clitheroe’s attempt to win the coveted Tattersall’s Cup in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s bluewater ocean classic.
Balance crossed the finish line at 4.50 pm today, seventh across the finish line behind line honours winner Comanche and the first TP52 a record nine that started. Only three have survived: Balance, Celestial and Ragamuffin 52.
Teasing Machine appears to have the better chance of the two Europeans. She was well down the east coast tonight and must arrive in the early hours of the morning to become the new leader in the clubhouse.
For Clitheroe it was a surprise to hear that they had done so well on corrected time. There had been little time to check outright positions on the race website.
“We are the clubhouse leaders, guys. That’s fantastic,” Clitheroe said on arrival and then told the story of the highs and lows.
“We got six hours of beautiful running then absolutely smashed. The bottom of my mainsail is torn to pieces. It was a terrible, terrible seaway, lumps and bumps. Most of the crew have got the usual bruises and bashes.
“What surprised us was that it persisted and it persisted for nearly 18 hours.
“I am not surprised at the retirements. We were bashing and crashing and these carbon boats…it was really awful conditions.
“Then we got into Bass Strait and we stopped dead.
“For four hours we didn’t move so we got all our gear out, dried our undies and generally recovered in Bass Strait. Eventually we got to the Tasmanian coast, got a bit of wind last night and I have to tell you, thanks Tasmania, had the best run of my life.
“We just turned at Tasman Light, a nice southerly picked us up, Code Zero all the way across and seriously I reckon we did it in two hours, 45 minutes, averaged 16-17 knots.
“The bottom of my mainsail is not pretty. The guys did a magnificent job putting it back together, sailed with one reef in the light patch and the guys managed to put the sail back together again.
“Everything below the first reef was incredibly torn and delaminated. The guys spent about three hours using every spare piece of stickyback and anything we could to get the mainsail back together again.
“It was a great finish to a bloody awful Hobart actually. I don’t know why I do this.
“Our first goal was to be the first TP52, which we were last year. That’s all you can do. The rest is in the lap of the gods.”
Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR Media