John Newbold felt like a winner after his 50-foot Primitive Cool from Victoria finished the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race this morning.
No matter that on the leaderboard, his Reichel/Pugh was no way near the front positions, let alone victory in both line honours and the most important category for him and his crew - corrected time.
Newbold was happy to just savour his private “satisfaction” for how Primitive Cool, launched in 2009 as Secret Men’s Business, fared in the first 24 hours of the 628 nautical mile race against the TP52s.
Her performance reinforced his belief the Victorian boat still has it to win the Sydney Hobart in the right conditions. In 2015, Primitive Cool placed fourth overall in what Newbold said were “trying conditions.”
On Saturday, Newbold first reflected on Primitive Cool’s run up the Derwent River in 30-35 knot winds to the finish which she crossed at 8.20am: “There was a lot of tacking and ‘bullets’ coming through the hills. Storm Bay was a bit rugged, a lot of pitching, bashing and thrashing. That was a bit more of a typical Hobart.”
But then he delved further into memory, to the first full day of racing following the 1pm race start on Boxing Day in Sydney Harbour.
“The first 24 hours were good …,” he said. “I think we were first in Division 1. Then we sailed into a big hole and sea fog and couldn’t see … we sat there for a while and that was the end of it. That’s the Hobart.
“The satisfaction of that is that the boat is not a TP52 and it competes with them … it’s a purpose built Sydney Hobart yacht, so the fact it is still competitive at nine years old you get satisfaction out of that.
“It’s the sort of boat that could win a Hobart without getting on the merry-go-round of throwing lots of dollars in a TP. It can take more in the heavy seas. There are bits where we can hit it a bit harder.
“The first 24 hours (this year) was a drag race from Sydney and we found ourselves at the end of that in front … Ichi Ban was eighth and we were first. I‘m going to put that in a glossy brochure.
“But we knew once we drove into a hole that we had a problem. We did all sorts of things to try to bail ourselves out … wave a magic wand over the fleet and get in front again. But the horse had bolted. “Still … the satisfaction is there. I’m taking some solace with that.”
Newbold, who bought Primitive Cool in 2013 and moved her to Sydney from Melbourne in June, may now return her to the Harbour City. He believes racing the Bluewater Series against much stiffer competition than what she gets in Melbourne paid dividends this year.
“I may bring her back to Sydney,” he said. “Racing 50s is limited in Melbourne. The Sydney move was good for us. We had some terrific opposition to race and find out where we really sit in the scheme of things. Racing against Ichi Ban and Quest … they will beat you, but at least you’re putting yourself up against the right competition.”
His crew’s motivation was also bolstered by its representation during the race of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society that campaigns against the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the ocean. “Not too many who are ocean racing don’t have empathy for the ocean and environment,” he said. “Sea Shepherd was a good fit.”
By Rupert Guinness, RSHYR media