Sydney Hobart Race Success - Twelve Months On
23 December 2016
Not many sailors know the treacherous 630 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race like Sydney sider Wendy ‘Wendo’ Tuck, who will embark on her 10th blue water classic on board Bravo today.
“I'm really looking forward to my 10th,” says Wendo. “It's something I have wanted to tick off for a while now. But it's nowhere near the excitement of last year.”
You can understand why the excitement levels are slightly down when you look at what she and her team achieved twelve months ago. As the first Australian female skipper in the Clipper Race’s history, Wendo Skippered her Da Nang – Viet Nam team to victory in the Clipper Race class of the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which doubled as Race 5 of the All-Australian Leg.
Da Nang – Viet Nam set the winning tone early on. Wendo’s team was first around the mark and first out of the Sydney Heads, and continued to lead all the way to Hobart.
“A year on, it still seems a bit unreal. All my personal belongings just arrived [at my new house in Sydney], so unpacking the two trophies and the huge divisional winner flag was pretty cool.”
And if the podium finish wasn’t already impressive enough, Wendo pulled off the historic win despite facing some of the most dramatic weather and racing conditions seen in the RSHYR in over a decade.
Just eight hours into the race, a powerful ‘Southerly Buster’ moved in, bringing with it gusting winds of more than 50 knots and a change in direction of 135 degrees. A close to record breaking 19 race contenders, including eight-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI, were forced to retire on night one alone. By race end, that total had increased to 31. It was the worst dropout rate in twenty years of the event.
The twelve Clipper 70s however, all battled on, led by Wendo’s Da Nang – Viet Nam, who wrote about the wild opening night in her Clipper Race Skipper Diary at the time.
“We could see it coming towards us, the sky was a tad cloudy then it just got black.”
“The seas built into an ugly messy sea state. A couple of crew that have been on since London who had never been seasick before suddenly came down with it. The boat was pounding like it never has before. It took everyone by surprise how uncomfortable it was.”
The tough conditions continued to test the Clipper Race fleet
throughout the race to Hobart, with the closing stages described as a cruel
game of wind-hole snakes and wind-funnel ladders.
Second placed GREAT Britain at one stage closed to within three nautical miles, but Wendo and the Da Nang – Viet Nam crew pulled off a tactical masterclass to be the first up the Derwent, and the first across the finish line in Hobart.
Da Nang – Viet Nam crew member Lara Sword says the finish was a credit to her skipper. “This race was go from start to finish and the final day coming into Hobart was incredible,” says Lara.
“We were surrounded by and led by hundreds of dolphins as we sped for the finish line. We headed into the river at the right tide time for us, meaning we knew that as soon as we turned the corner, unless we made a mistake with sail changes and gybes, it was ours.”
“Most of the other races saw boats move up and down the leaderboard but we led the whole way for this race. That was an amazing feeling.”
Da Nang – Viet Nam
placed 22nd in the race’s overall line honours, and as the first
female skipper to cross the RSHYR finish line, Wendo was also awarded the Jane
Tate Memorial trophy.
She herself remains modest when it comes to reflecting on her many achievements. “I think it was all due to a little bit of luck, a whole lot of hard work from all on board, and a touch of local knowledge.”
Wendo isn’t the only former Clipper Race Skipper featuring in this year’s edition of the RSHYR. Eric Holden, the Clipper 2013-14 Race’s winning skipper, is the navigator on Primitive Cool, and was the RSHYR Handicap winner in 2010 on Secret Men’s Business.
Feeling inspired? If you want to race the world’s oceans, there are still places available to become a crew member for the Clipper 2017-18 Race. Click here to find out more.
You can now relive all the action of the Clipper 2015-16
Race, including Wendo’s Race 5 Sydney Hobart win, as our TV series Race of
Their Lives 2 is now available to order on DVD.
The seven-part human adventure series box set which contains four high quality DVD discs with seven one hour (52 minute) episodes of the TV series, plus bonus ‘My Story’ videos, can be ordered at Bookharbour.com for £24.95, incl. VAT.