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Old beauty out to steal spotlight from Sydney to Hobart supermaxis

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It’s why he didn’t want a bar of any discussion about his beautiful old timber yawl being among the favourites for the overall honours in this year’s Sydney to Hobart before the race start.“Don’t ask, let’s not talk about it,’’ he said on the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia dock before his departure on Boxing Day.“Ask me in Hobart and then we will both know.’’ROLLING COVERAGELIST OF RETIRED BOATSAnd while there’s plenty more racing to come in the 628 nautical mile race south, Love & War has emerged as one of the boats to beat for the overall honours in what has been a punishing race for all.More than a third of the 2021 fleet retired hurt in the first 26 hours of the race, one of the highest attrition rates in recent memory and a consequence of hours of pounding upwind.Ironically, the conditions which have sent 30 plus boats to the sidelines have catapulted Kurts and his timber beauty to her position as a contender for the overall honours.With the supermaxis LawConnect, Black Jack and Scallywag racing to the finish line on Tuesday night, the focus will soon turn to the battle for overall honours.If Love & War wins, the 47-footer with Kurts and his son Phillip aboard, will collect one of the most of coveted pieces of silverware in world ocean sailing – the Tattersalls Cup – for an unprecedented fourth time.Only one other yacht has been the overall winner of the Sydney to Hobart on three occasions – the Halvorsen brothers’ Freya which won three in a row in 1963, 1964 and 1965.Now 43-years-old, the sentimental favourite of the fleet won the Sydney to Hobart overall honours in 1974 and 1978 under Kurt’s father, the famous ocean racer Peter, and in 2006 under veteran navigator Lindsay May.Late Tuesday she was holding her own in the most prestigious battle in the Sydney to Hobart.And the good news for the crew from yachting meteorologist is there is nothing “untoward’’ weatherwise for Kurts and his crew as they continue their race to the finish line on the Derwent River.SLOW RACE FOR SYDNEY TO HOBART CONTENDERS DEC 27: Sydney to Hobart supermaxis trio Black Jack, LawConnect and Scallywag have managed to dodge the dramas which have sent more than a third of the fleet to the sidelines to remain on track for a Tuesday finish to one of the most punishing races in recent memory.It is more than likely the 100-footers will not arrive until well into the afternoon – and well outside the race record – and potentially in one of the slowest times since 2015.This is unsurprising given the slow getaway of the trio due to strong headwinds the first night and morning of the race.The last race to take over two days for the line honours contenders was back in 2015 when Netscape owner Jim Clark’s American yacht Comanche crossed the finish in two days, eight hours and 58 seconds.Two years later, under a different owner in Australian Jim Cooney, the same yacht set the current mark of 1:09:15:24.Scallywag had gear damage after the start which put her on the back foot and the tracker on LawConnect has not been working. But to date these are the only issues the boats have made public.In contrast yachts further back in the fleet have had a punishing start to the race with 34 out by 7pm on Monday.This boat dropout is one of the highest attrition rates in recent years and due to the hours of tough upwind sailing endured by many of the boats which resulted in gear damage, torn sails, electrical issues, injuries to crew and even hull damage.Top meteorologist Roger Badham had good news late Monday, claiming the worse is over for the bulk of the fleet who could even face ultra light winds at some further stages of the race.The 2018 overall winner Alive was one of the highest profile casualties with hull damage severe enough she issued a Pan Pan call to alert officials they had problems, but that they were not life threatening.She was on Monday safely back in Sydney.A crewmen aboard the Victorian yacht No Limit was undergoing surgery on a badly injured shoulder after a bunk collapse, while the skipper of the Sydney yacht Zen, Gordon Ketelbey, was beside him in hospital with a fractured arm.Incredibly, one of the world’s most notorious stretches of water – Bass Strait – will provide the smaller boats in the fleet a break from the harsh conditions.“It’s getting better and better,’’ Badham said.“They won’t get punished.’’



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