Offshore Yachting : October November 2007
offshore | 61 particular, the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Its performances since launching late last year in time for the Sydney Hobart, where Yendys posted a fourth across the line and sixth on corrected time in the IRC division, have been strong. Yendys' most recent IRC win in the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, speaks volumes of the progress of the yacht and its crew. So, what is the story of Geoff Ross and Yendys? I spoke with Geoff about his history and Yendys, Sydney's mirror image. AT: How long have you been sailing and ocean racing particularly? What drew you to the sport? GR: I grew up in Bendigo in Central Victoria where there is no water, let alone a sailing club. I played tennis and AFL football as a teenager and throughout my years at Melbourne University and while working in Melbourne. However as a keen sportsman during my teenage years I recall reading in the The Age newspaper about this strange event called the Sydney to Hobart and I guess it must have planted a seed in my mind so long ago. This seed took some time to germinate and eventually I moved to Sydney in 1990 and by 1994 had purchased my first ocean boat. The first Yendys was a Beneteau 45f5 and I commenced ocean racing with the Sydney to Southport race. Later that year the beginnings of the Yendys team saw us successfully complete our first Sydney to Hobart which was also the 50th year of the race. In the two subsequent years as the team and boat evolved we were able to get a third and second in our IMS division in the Hobart race which we considered to be a fantastic result for us in a basically uncompetitive IMS cruising yacht. The results reflected a great team effort. The second Yendys, a Beneteau 53f5, arrived in 1997 and this was a boat for which I have a special affection. While still basically a beautiful cruising yacht it had a very sea kindly hull which made it much easier to drive in the ocean than its predecessor. We then won our IMS divisions in the 1997 and 1998 Hobart races and it was this yacht which brought us safely through the nightmare of the 1998 race, albeit it took six months of repairs in Hobart before we could sail her home to Sydney. By this time the Yendys team had done thousands of ocean miles together and completed many regattas and races. I had begun to feel I had completed my apprenticeship and was ready to raise our teams goal to an overall Hobart win. With this in mind I built the third Yendys, a custom Farr 49, designed primarily to win a Hobart overall under IMS. We put the boat in the water in December 1999 and achieved second in our first regatta (the Rolex Regatta although with a different name then) and we went on to win the overall Hobart prize. In this largely hard running race we were in fact eight hours inside the previous Maxi race record and only at sea for two nights. Once again this outcome reflects the core Yendys strategy of a combination of a great team on the right boat. The rapidly changing nature of the IMS rule basically destroyed this boats competitiveness and ultimately the rule itself. I acquired the fourth Yendys to respond to this situation and then, much to my consternation at the time, the CYCA adopted IRC as the overall handicap rule for Hobart. With the advantage of hindsight I was wrong and this was a great decision by the CYCA and for sailing So today we have the fifth Yendys, a Reichel Pugh 55, which is a boat designed primarily for Hobart and IRC and our Hobart goal remains the same. It is the best boat I have ever sailed and an absolute delight to sail under all conditions. An indication of its speed can be seen when you consider that a 55 foot boat is ahead on the water of the 85 foot Brindabella which won Sydney Hobart line honours not so many years ago. Equally in winning our division in the 2006 Hobart the only boats which arrived in Hobart ahead of us were the two 100 foot maxis and a Volvo 70. My special feeling for this yacht is such that I now find myself talking to her as do some of the Yendys team. We believe we have a strong Yendys team and the right boat so our focus this year has been on preparing for the 2007 Sydney Hobart and indeed this was the reason we entered the Hamilton Island Race Week Regatta. This was a beautiful regatta with a good outcome for us. Bearing in mind that the boat is still actually in its heavy weather Hobart mode and using old sails augurs well for the years end. As always the results reflect a huge team effort and it my privilege to lead and sail with such a great team. AT: What is it about IRC ocean racing that appeals to you more than sailing round the cans, one-design or other forms of sailing competition? To be deeply involved in such a consuming and difficult team process is really as much a movement of the human spirit as wind or water.
December January 2008