Batemans Bay Sailing Club’s Matt Craig has climbed the Everest of sailing by winning a torrid 2015 Sydney Hobart race overall – with sticky tape getting the yacht through a monster southerly.
Craig was aboard Paul Clitheroe’s 52-foot yacht Balance, which finished on Tuesday afternoon, December 29, Batemans Bay Sailing Club commodore Lachlan Brown said.
“Balance was in a good position, but her crew had to wait to see if smaller yachts still racing would overhaul them on corrected time,” Brown said.
Light winds on Wednesday night slowed the last of these, Quikpoint Azzuro as she neared the finish, confirming Balance as the winner.
“Matt has sailed on Balance for two years, as well as Paul Clitheroe’s previous yacht, also called Balance,” Brown said.
His roles include trimming the sails, grinding the winches, helming and getting the engine to start.
“These sort of all-round skills also make Matt a valued crew member aboard Accolade, when he is sailing on Batemans Bay.
“Matt has built up an impressive sailing resume over the years, including Australian championships in both dinghy and sports boat classes, victory in the Gosford Lord Howe Island Race and club championships with BBSC.
“This year’s Sydney Hobart was a torrid affair, after a southerly front hit the fleet on the first night at sea.
“Rough seas, combined with the sudden nature of the change, caused a high number of retirements, including a number of rivals to the Balance.
“She sustained several tears in the mainsail,” Brown said.
“The crew was later able to do some bodgy sail repairs with sticky-back tape.
“After 18 hours, the southerly settled and Balance was becalmed while crossing Bass Strait.
“She then won a tactical battle over her main surviving opponents while sailing down the Tassie coast and had a speedy run across Storm Bay and up the Derwent.
“Matt claims to have celebrated with nothing stronger than a green tea and a lemonade or two.”
Batemans Bay Sailing Club had other contenders.
“The club is also represented by Tony Sutton and Simon Dunlop, sailing aboard Simon’s Beneteau 40.7 Pelagic Magic,” Brown said.
“She is a more cruisey boat than Balance, but has got her crew of 10 through the rough conditions safely.
“They finished early on Thursday, scoring a commendable 21st position overall.”