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The Rock-itt : February 2010
Our photographer, Ian Bird, has captured the majestic yachts as they sail up our beautiful Sydney Harbour in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day. There's nothing better after the laborious effort that our digestion system does on Christmas day, than to sit down in front of the television and juggle channels between the Sydney to Hobart Race and the Boxing Day Cricket Test. With a well stocked fridge of VB and cold ham, turkey, pork and just about everything edible you can imagine, I put my feet up and just enjoyed Boxing Day on the Northern Beaches, eating, drinking and being thoroughly entertained by our sports people who were out to give it their best as usual on the day after Christmas. The start of the Sydney to Hobart is always a treat to watch as boats and crews jostle for position making sure they are where they should be when the starter's gun goes off. This year was no different with each of the race contenders weaving back and forth, hovering as close to the starting line as possible without infringing on the race rules. Unfortunately for one of the yachts, their hopes of winning the prestigious event were dashed when the new mast and gear which had just been fitted failed to come up to scratch owing to a lack of time to tune it properly. The yacht, Etihad had to pull out and watch the others take off for Bass Straight, knowing it would be a full 12 months before they would get another opportunity to contest the event. However ,it was the maxi yachts, Alfa Romeo and Wild Oats (which has taken out line honours for the last four starts) which led the fleet out of Sydney Heads and southward toward Hobart. Once through the heads, Alfa Romeo immediately began taking control of the race as the giant hundred footer ploughed through the water, with Wild Oats just astern. And this was the way it was to be for the rest of the journey south to Hobart. At one stage, Alf Romeo led Wild Oats by a margin of 32 nautical miles before Wild Oats clawed back a good bit of the lead by cutting the distance between the two yachts to only 11 miles. Although Wild Oats tried to catch Alfa Romeo with some clever sailing, the New Zealand Maxi managed to stay ahead of her opponent, eventually reaching Hobart's Constitution Dock at 10.02, (AEDT) covering the 630 nautical miles in the slow time of two days, nine hours, and ten seconds. Wild Oats was second over the finish line more than two hours behind Alfa Romeo. There was speculation that the winners picked up a freak bit of wind near the NSW/Victoria border which no one else seemed to gather. This pushed Alfa's lead on further, giving it a nice distance ahead of rival Wild Oats. In the handicap division, She won overall first position in what has been dubbed "The Slow Boat to China Race". Fluctuating conditions had crews over worked to compensate the wind drops and some of the fleet were actually becalmed on occasions. Flying Fish Arctos came in second overall and Namadgi slotted into the provisional third position. Apart from the frustrating slow conditions there were no dramatic injuries, just the odd bump and bruise which is the normal part of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.