The XS Moment 2017 Sydney to Hobart Story
Xs Moment is owned and Skippered by Ray Hudson. Ray and his crew are regular offshore sailors and have been sailing together for many years. This is their story as to why they participated in the 2017 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and what they did to get to the start line and to dock in Hobart. 50th on line honours 03:17:33:37.
Why we participated in the Race
It was a personal challenge for many of the crew including me as the skipper and owner – we considered it our ‘everest’ in ocean sailing.
Our aims were to finish the race safely with all crew enjoying themselves and putting in their personal best efforts – this aim was clearly realised & we all had a great experience undertaking the race – and to win our division, which was not realised, but we tried!! View the race stnadings here: http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/standings/
To increase our Blue Water experience and prove both XS Moment’s and our own capabilities.
To create the nucleus of a tested Blue Water crew with confidence in each other so that we can continue to participate safely and competitively in Blue Water events including our continued involvement on the RPAYC Blue water Series.
To simply enjoy sailing and participation in a recognised premier ocean racing event.
Our Preparation Programme
Blue Water events with final S2H crew for real-time experience in the LR SGCR, CYCA Cabbage Tree and RPAYC Boondlebah races. These events where all Australian Sailing Categrory 2 races.
Careful evaluation of food and supply quantities and menus on lead up races.
Detailed study of weather and current patterns for sail selection, rig tuning and routing options.
MOB training exercises with actual in water volunteers to test retrieval measures.
Improvements in instrumentation including polar performance feedback for on watch crew.
Detailed modifications to make XS Moment safe in all potential ocean conditions including:
- - Leecloths added to pipecots in addition to our normal leecloths
- - Galley strap and cooking restraint measures
- - Improved handholds for safe travel below decks
- - Improved cockpit and cabin top rope storage facilities
- - Limited but identified personal crew gear storage areas
- - Toilet seat restraint chocks for safe usage in rough conditions
- - Modified reefing procedures and fittings at mast proved in on water training exercises
- - Amended emergency steering fitting
Our Experience of the Race Itself
Great build up with special event marquees, videos and a real buzz about being a part of a special event.
An international contest with our American based modified Xp44 sister ship - Warrior Won – that we looked forward to as the boats were set up differing philosophies with Warrior Won having a modified rudder and an extended bowsprit to run assymetrics nearly 50% larger than ours but controlling their rating by deleting symmetrical kites.
A difficult start as we were on the rear or third of three start lines in light air with a significant swell at the Heads and a strong adverse current – ultimately we were happy to get out of the harbour cleanly and without incident.
Great progress reaching & running down the NSW coast line on the first day and overnight with our radio call nearing Gabo Island to obtain permission to enter Bass Strait a little before noon on the 27th or less than 24 hours after the start.
The weather was largely as predicted with a lot of running conditions, a short sharp front off East Tasmania then a period of light fickle winds with a low pressure system centred off Maria Island.
Our only significant breakage was, unfortunately a significant one – the spinnaker pole was broken a little south of Gabo and still a little short of 24 hours into the race during a spinnaker drop gone wrong in a 30 knot gust.
While we reacted well to the broken pole by jury rigging it, cutting out the fractured carbon section with our on board angle grinder to square the ends, inserting a table leg packed out with spinnaker bag battens as an internal sleeve and then ‘splinted’ the pole externally with our cruising main battens and lots of tape, we could not use it in the stronger conditions and therefore had to use our undersized assymetrics and borrowed First 40 jib top at sub optimal wind angles which slowed our progress significantly and we lost 25 miles to comparative boats over the next 24 hours.
The current eddies in Eastern Bass Strait were not as predicted and initially did not give us the assistance we expected but our relatively wide course down the east coast of Tasmania avoided light air zones that impacted yachts closer to the coast line and the course plotted by our navigator got us back into the race against Warrior Won despite the handicap of the broken pole.
We were competitive and catching our opposition quickly when we could use the jury rigged pole and our larger spinnakers approaching Tasman Island in moderate air.
There was an expected hole in the wind in Strom Bay after rounding Cape Raoul and we avoided the worst of this but did not stay wide enough to avoid it completely and were windless for a frustrating period - but ultimately not for as long as Warrior Won which were more deeply entrenched in the hole.
We had good pressure up the Derwent with the breeze going from NE to SE near John Garrow Shoal and the pressure increasing to the finish line.
We had a great battle with Kialoa down the Derwent ultimately crossing seconds behind her after taking a wider course to the finish and regaining considerable ground.
We beat Warrior Won over the line by 13 minutes having retrieved a 20 mile deficit at Cape Tourville.
Great crew work and spirit throughout.
Solid boat preparation paid off and the boat itself was flawless both during the race and the later return trip.
Beating our New York based sister ship Warrior Won over the line despite the broken pole even though her slightly lower rating knocked us off on handicap.
Fabulous welcome to Hobart from a large crowd & free scallops in the shell for the crew from a seafood outlet run by a previous participant – great spirit by the Tasmanians.
Great navigation from a tireless Frank Walker.
Crossing Bass Strait with a good 20 to 25 knot breeze all the way in white horse dappled aqua blue sea conditions – just fabulous!
The bugles as dramatic as promised as we closed the Tasmanian coast line.
To experience and be apart of the RPAYC Offshore program visit the Sailing Office to learn more. The Broken Bay Offshore Series and Club Marine Bluewater Series offer crew and skippers the opporunity to build their offshore sailing skills and experiences, all which will aid anyones attempt to take on the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race or greater ocean going journeys.