Whisper competes in the 2023 Sydney to Hobart.
Luxury cruiser Whisper was among four yachts to make it to the safety of Hobart on Friday afternoon. Image by HANDOUT/CRUISING YACHT CLUB OF AUSTRALIA
  • sailing

Yacht damage, broken bones in squally Sydney to Hobart

Ethan James December 29, 2023

Uncomfortable weather is showing no sign of letting up for a Sydney to Hobart fleet already battered by squally conditions that have damaged yachts and broken ribs.

More than 70 boats remained at sea late on Friday afternoon, with the day’s first finisher not arriving until 1pm (AEDT) – some 29 hours after LawConnect claimed line honours victory.

Tasmanian yacht Alive, which finished on Thursday, is primed to take out overall honours for a second occasion with a time that appears unbeatable.

Official confirmation is likely to occur on Saturday.

Alive sails up the Derwent in the 2023 Sysdney to Hobart.
 Alive is well placed to claim overall honours in the 2023 Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Image by HANDOUT/CRUISING YACHT CLUB OF AUSTRALIA 

No Limit and 12-year-old luxury cruiser Whisper were among a handful of yachts to make it to the safety of Hobart’s Constitution Dock on Friday afternoon.

“Tough … wet, lumpy, plenty of wind. But the team did an amazing job,” No Limit skipper David Gotze said after his seventh-place finish across the line.

“We did the best with what we could do in the  circumstances.”

The retirement tally stands at 16 from 103 starters following a stormy Boxing Day night at sea.

A strong wind warning is in place for waters off Tasmania’s east coast, where a chunk of the fleet is tracking south.

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore Arthur Lane said winds of 35 knots and 4.5-metre seas were expected on Friday afternoon and night.

“It is certainly slower than the last few years and that is because of the wind. It is an uphill race,” he told AAP.

“It’s going to be a very uncomfortable night.”

NSW entrant Salt Lines, veteran of 22 Sydney to Hobart races, and 52-footer Gunshot pulled the pin on Thursday night because of damage to their sails.

Robbie Fisher, skipper of 66-footer Helsal 3, reported a broken mainsail rope, torn sail and “other little things”.

“We have a minor injury to a crew … our navigator was on deck, slipped, and cracked a couple of ribs,” he said.

“We copped a beating across (Bass) Strait. We had over 30 knots and it was pretty bad. We have persevered though.”

Hong Kong entrant Antipodes, crewed by Lindsay May in his 50th race, was slated to finish at some point on Friday. 

No Limit during the 2023 Sydney to Hobart.
 No Limit was the first boat to finish on Friday and the seventh to arrive overall. Image by HANDOUT/SALTY DINGO 

“We’ve had some down time … with breeze holes that our competitors didn’t get,” crew member Brad Kellett said.

“We’ve got a tear in the new mainsail to repair. We blew out our J2 headsail.”

The Darren Hine-skippered Alive, overall winner in 2018, finished as clubhouse leader on handicap time.

The overall winner, which is awarded the Tattersall Cup, is judged on handicap which takes into account factors including the size of the boat.

LawConnect won line honours on Thursday morning, coming from behind to beat fellow 100-footer and 2022 winner Andoo Comanche by just 51 seconds in the second-closest finish in Sydney to Hobart history.