News

2013 ROLEX SYDNEY HOBART

20/12/2013 - Bénéteau

On 26 December, a fleet of 94 boats will set off from the port of Sydney for Hobart on the Island of Tasmania; a distance of 628 miles.
This year, it is the ideal opportunity for the 12 BENETEAU boats racing to compete with each other in their different classes and aim for the top steps of the podium. There will be 4 First 40s, 4 First 45s, 2 First 47.7s, 1 First 40.7 and 1 Oceanis 473.
It will be a real challenge for the First 40s and 45s, winners of the race for the last few years running.
We interviewed Paul Clitheroe and Chris Manton, respectively owners of the First 45, Balance, and the First 45, Senna, who are extremely impatient to take to the starting line of the Rolex Syndey Hobart Race.
Paul Clitheroe ? Beneteau First 45 Balance 
How many times have you sailed the Sydney Hobart? 
This is my 6th Sydney to Hobart, one crewing on a Volvo 60, the other 5 as Skipper of my own boat. 
You didn't contest the race last year, what got you back this year?
Our youngest child finished school in 2012, so my wife Vicki and our three children took a rare opportunity to spend time together in Africa. 
Hobart is a very special race. It is demanding on the structural integrity of my boat and the mental and physical stamina of the crew. Racing a boat 24 hours a day, for several days in some pretty wild conditions is a fascinating challenge. Tactics, navigation, safety, crew health and morale, all while going as fast as possible and in the right direction are big challenges. My brain is completely clear of all the normal day to day stuff, very refreshing. 
Mind you, I am glad you asked this prior to Hobart. As always, on the dock in Hobart I will be promising myself never to do it again. That usually lasts about 3 months until I once again forget the pain and remember only the highlights. 
How has your race preparation been and how do you rate your chances in your respective division?
I am very lucky to have had the same core crew of keen amateur sailors for the last decade. We all get on well, we have each others back and we quietly go about our own role in making the boat go fast. In our last Hobart we had a second in IRC and ORCi in our division, and were a chance of an overall top 3 finish until we parked in no wind for 10 hours off Tasman Light.  
Over the last 12 months we have 2nd at Hamilton Island Race Week, 3rd at Port Stephens Race Week, in the top few in the 2013 Ocean Point Score Series and won ORCi in the Short Ocean Offshore regatta last month. We won outright IRC and were 2nd on line honours in the very tough 2012 Pittwater to Lord Howe race, so the boat is going well.  
We would need our conditions, namely strong wind from the south so we are bashing into big seas. In these conditions the lightweight boats cannot get away from us, plus a big element of luck. As I have found out on a number of Hobarts, getting to Tasmania in a position to win is one thing, getting down the Derwent is more good luck than good management. 
For us a good divisional result is a very realistic goal. But frankly, if we get there in one piece with no crew injuries and enjoy a rum on the dock, that is a big win it itself. 
What is it about the Sydney Hobart that has created this event to be known, supported and followed globally?
Racing across Bass Strait, one of the potentially most violent pieces of water on the planet in a small fibreglass and carbon boat is about the silliest thing I have ever heard of. I think the danger, beauty of the yachts, the extent of the challenge and the stupidity or put more positively, the bravery of those who do it, makes for quite compelling viewing.  
The Boxing Day start is also a big part of it, it?s iconic. The bad news is many crew get to relook at their Christmas pudding as it reappears leaping over waves off the NSW coast! 
You're obviously confident in the ability of your Beneteau to undertake one of the most grueling and challenging races in the world, what gives you that confidence?
We have done things to my poor Beneteau 45 that would horrify the design team at Beneteau. We drive Balance at high speeds in truly awful conditions, at times falling off seriously big waves. Every time she crashes back into the ocean she groans and shudders, and then takes off again like a professional athlete. The Beneteau team work with us to ensure she is incredibly well maintained, serviced and structurally sound. Ocean racing is dangerous and bad things can happen, but I am very confident in my Beneteau's ability to survive and help to keep us safe in the worst of conditions.  
How does it feel to have another 11 Beneteaus racing in the fleet with you? 
Now that is fun, we have a strong sense of comradeship and it is also terrific to have a race inside a race. Along with the other boats in our division I believe we will also have 4 other Beneteau 45's, fantastic. 
Why is Beneteau, and particularly the First range, the largest supported production boat manufacturer in the race?
Balance my Beneteau 45 is my third Beneteau and my wife also owns a Beneteau, Counter Balance a First 27.7 Brendan Hunt and the team at Beneteau have consistently provided service and support. The resale market on a well-serviced Beneteau is always there, and while a Beneteau First is a cruiser/racer and certainly not a pure race boat, a well sailed Beneteau with a great sail wardrobe is a very competitive boat.  
I also love the fact that Beneteau's are nearly always raced in an amateur "owner/driver" spirit without paid crew. Basically, just people who love to sail. 
Chris Manton ? Beneteau First 40 Senna 
How many Sydney Hobart Races have you entered?
This is my very first, as well as the first time for my First 40 Senna. But I have a very experienced crew, who collectively have completed between 40-50 Sydney Hobarts. We are all from Geelong Yacht club and have plenty of experience racing together. 
What made you decide you wanted to do the race for the first time?
I?d always planned to do the race and because we?ve been performing so well over the past 12-18 months we thought why not. We?re so lucky to have such a good and experienced crew, and the boat is prepared so well, so felt it?s the right time. 
Its fantastic to have a Victorian based Beneteau in the race, does that add any relevance to you and the crew?
Yeah its very exciting for us as no Geelong boat has ever won the race, and although we?re not over estimating our chances we?d love to be the first in our division. 
How has your preparation been for the race?
Our crew has been contesting, and won, a number of races in Victoria in the lead up to the race, so we?re in pretty good form. The boat is now in Sydney and we?ll do the Rolex Passage Series as a final lead up to the race. 
Are you excited to have 11 other Beneteaus in the race with you?
Yep it?s fantastic for the brand and gives me such confidence in the ability of the product. We?re looking forward to meeting the other crews and having just a little bit of Beneteau rivalry. 
What are your plans after the race?
We?re looking forward to the Festival Of Sails at Geelong and its great to have the Beneteau First Nationals in our backyard this year. We?ll look to take the boat north next year and eventually make our way up to do Hamilton Island Race Week.
Paul Clitheroe ? Beneteau First 45 Balance 
How many times have you sailed the Sydney Hobart? 
This is my 6th Sydney to Hobart, one crewing on a Volvo 60, the other 5 as Skipper of my own boat.
You didn't contest the race last year, what got you back this year?
Our youngest child finished school in 2012, so my wife Vicki and our three children took a rare opportunity to spend time together in Africa.
Hobart is a very special race. It is demanding on the structural integrity of my boat and the mental and physical stamina of the crew. Racing a boat 24 hours a day, for several days in some pretty wild conditions is a fascinating challenge. Tactics, navigation, safety, crew health and morale, all while going as fast as possible and in the right direction are big challenges. My brain is completely clear of all the normal day to day stuff, very refreshing.
Mind you, I am glad you asked this prior to Hobart. As always, on the dock in Hobart I will be promising myself never to do it again. That usually lasts about 3 months until I once again forget the pain and remember only the highlights.
How has your race preparation been and how do you rate your chances in your respective division?
I am very lucky to have had the same core crew of keen amateur sailors for the last decade. We all get on well, we have each others back and we quietly go about our own role in making the boat go fast. In our last Hobart we had a second in IRC and ORCi in our division, and were a chance of an overall top 3 finish until we parked in no wind for 10 hours off Tasman Light. 
Over the last 12 months we have 2nd at Hamilton Island Race Week, 3rd at Port Stephens Race Week, in the top few in the 2013 Ocean Point Score Series and won ORCi in the Short Ocean Offshore regatta last month. We won outright IRC and were 2nd on line honours in the very tough 2012 Pittwater to Lord Howe race, so the boat is going well. 
We would need our conditions, namely strong wind from the south so we are bashing into big seas. In these conditions the lightweight boats cannot get away from us, plus a big element of luck. As I have found out on a number of Hobarts, getting to Tasmania in a position to win is one thing, getting down the Derwent is more good luck than good management
For us a good divisional result is a very realistic goal. But frankly, if we get there in one piece with no crew injuries and enjoy a rum on the dock, that is a big win it itself.
What is it about the Sydney Hobart that has created this event to be known, supported and followed globally?
Racing across Bass Strait, one of the potentially most violent pieces of water on the planet in a small fibreglass and carbon boat is about the silliest thing I have ever heard of. I think the danger, beauty of the yachts, the extent of the challenge and the stupidity or put more positively, the bravery of those who do it, makes for quite compelling viewing. 
The Boxing Day start is also a big part of it, it?s iconic. The bad news is many crew get to relook at their Christmas pudding as it reappears leaping over waves off the NSW coast!
You're obviously confident in the ability of your Beneteau to undertake one of the most grueling and challenging races in the world, what gives you that confidence?
We have done things to my poor Beneteau 45 that would horrify the design team at Beneteau. We drive Balance at high speeds in truly awful conditions, at times falling off seriously big waves. Every time she crashes back into the ocean she groans and shudders, and then takes off again like a professional athlete. The Beneteau team work with us to ensure she is incredibly well maintained, serviced and structurally sound. Ocean racing is dangerous and bad things can happen, but I am very confident in my Beneteau's ability to survive and help to keep us safe in the worst of conditions. 
How does it feel to have another 11 Beneteaus racing in the fleet with you? 
Now that is fun, we have a strong sense of comradeship and it is also terrific to have a race inside a race. Along with the other boats in our division I believe we will also have 4 other Beneteau 45's, fantastic.
Why is Beneteau, and particularly the First range, the largest supported production boat manufacturer in the race?
Balance my Beneteau 45 is my third Beneteau and my wife also owns a Beneteau, Counter Balance a First 27.7 Brendan Hunt and the team at Beneteau have consistently provided service and support. The resale market on a well-serviced Beneteau is always there, and while a Beneteau First is a cruiser/racer and certainly not a pure race boat, a well sailed Beneteau with a great sail wardrobe is a very competitive boat. 
I also love the fact that Beneteau's are nearly always raced in an amateur "owner/driver" spirit without paid crew. Basically, just people who love to sail.
Chris Manton ? Beneteau First 45 Senna 
How many Sydney Hobart Races have you entered?
This is my very first, as well as the first time for my First 40 Senna. But I have a very experienced crew, who collectively have completed between 40-50 Sydney Hobarts. We are all from Geelong Yacht club and have plenty of experience racing together.
What made you decide you wanted to do the race for the first time?
I?d always planned to do the race and because we?ve been performing so well over the past 12-18 months we thought why not. We?re so lucky to have such a good and experienced crew, and the boat is prepared so well, so felt it?s the right time.
Its fantastic to have a Victorian based Beneteau in the race, does that add any relevance to you and the crew?
Yeah its very exciting for us as no Geelong boat has ever won the race, and although we?re not over estimating our chances we?d love to be the first in our division.
How has your preparation been for the race?
Our crew has been contesting, and won, a number of races in Victoria in the lead up to the race, so we?re in pretty good form. The boat is now in Sydney and we?ll do the Rolex Passage Series as a final lead up to the race.
Are you excited to have 11 other Beneteaus in the race with you?
Yep it?s fantastic for the brand and gives me such confidence in the ability of the product. We?re looking forward to meeting the other crews and having just a little bit of Beneteau rivalry. 
What are your plans after the race?
We?re looking forward to the Festival Of Sails at Geelong and its great to have the Beneteau First Nationals in our backyard this year. We?ll look to take the boat north next year and eventually make our way up to do Hamilton Island Race Week. 

For more information visit : www.beneteau.com.au