Tasmanian sailor Richard Grant said he is excited not daunted about taking on the infamous Sydney-to-Hobart ocean classic for the first time.
Neither Grant nor his yacht, the Knoop 39 Cromarty Magellan, have tackled the 628 nautical mile race before, but he is looking forward to squeezing his all-Tasmanian crew into Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day.
“It is inspiring just to get to the start line,” said the 53-year-old father-of-two.
“The Sydney-Hobart has been on the bucket list for a while. We’ve done lots of local races with the boat, which was designed to the IMS Rule in 2000. We’ve done other races such as the Melbourne-Launceston race. Now we’ve decided to give it a crack with the big boys.
“We’re absolutely looking forward to it after first talking about it a year ago.”
Grant was a committee member of Tamar Yacht Club for a decade, coordinating its small boats sailing squadron while his daughter Megan learned to sail.
Three years ago he bought the yacht from Dick Knoop, brother of its designer Walter Knoop, who contested the Sydney-Hobart with his self-designed Quintal in the late 1970s.
Grant moved to Bellerive a year ago when he also started planning the Sydney-Hobart odyssey.
“It’s an all-Tassie effort. A Tasmanian designed and built boat and a Tasmanian crew,” he said.
“I’m proud of having an all-Tasmanian crew and be the first entered for this year’s race and it has a very strong Northern connection.”
Northern crew members include Peter Brooks, Greg Bradfield, John King, Jo Breen, David Cromarty and Alex McLean, whose mother Donelda Niles was a commodore of Tamar.
“Two of the crew have done the race before,” Grant added. “Dave Cromarty did the race on Whistler (owned by David Rees) and my brother Tim sailed on Screw Loose,” he said of the 1979 Sydney-Hobart overall winner then owned by Bob Cumming, the last Tasmanian yacht to win the famous race.
Grant’s yacht is sponsored by his Australian electrical engineering group with interests in Tasmania, Melbourne and Brisbane.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia said Grant’s entry was the 50th for this year’s race with the official close of entries coming up on October 28.
Other Australian entries represent NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia with international crews from China, New Zealand, Sweden, England, Hong Kong, the US and a first ever entry from Slovenia in Miran Tepes’ 12 metre boat Skokica.
CYCA’s sailing manager Justine Kirkjian expected the final number of entries to be in the early 90s.
Scallywag, the rebadged Ragamuffin 100 recently purchased by Hong Kong businessman, Seng Huang Lee, is the first 100 foot super maxi to sign on the dotted line.