Follow the journey to Hobart with these videos!
Over the past 60 years, the race has become a world sailing icon – a supreme test of teamwork, endurance, and ability. Of the 78 boats that started the race, 9 didn’t finish. Several boats were dismasted, and one boat sank, requiring a daring rescue of the crew at sea.
Problems occurred during the first 36 hours of the race, when a southerly buster with winds reaching 30 knots combined with a strong current to produce pounding seas of 5 meters or more.
There has never been a Sydney to Hobart without a radical change in the wind direction and strength, and there have been some turbulent years that have battered boats and bodies into submission. The '06 race certainly retained this tradition - but the Dragon was prepared!
With the heavy winds and rough seas, making a hot meal was not an easy task!
Click below to read news stories of Dennis’s adventure:
Dennis competes in the 2006 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race!
The 723 mile course starts in Sydney Harbour and takes the fleet down the East Coast of Australia, then through the Bass Strait, which divides the island of Tasmania from the mainland. After rounding towering Tasman Island, the fleet sails the final 30 miles across Storm Bay and then 11 miles up the Derwent River to the finish in Hobart, Australia's second oldest city.
“The Hobart" is unique because it is one of the most challenging ocean races in the world. Its uncertain weather can bring winds of up to 70 mph, sometimes more, along with massive boat and body breaking seas. The Bass Strait, with its shallow depths and strong currents, is notorious for its steep waves.
Dennis was part of a team of 14 sailing on a 64’ boat designed for the Volvo Round the World Ocean Race. The skipper decided to head offshore to take advantage of exceptionally strong currents heading toward Hobart. This was clearly the right strategy, and for a time the tracking reports had their Volvo 60 near the front of the fleet. However, there were pros and cons to the strategy. The combination of the three knot southerly current and gale force winds blowing in the opposite direction caused particularly difficult sea conditions offshore.
After the boat was hit by a rogue wave, the boat’s electrical system failed. The crew was left with no communications, navigation instruments, or lights. This led to a difficult night of sailing with flashlights, a compass, and a hand-held GPS.
Those first 36 hours crashing down the coast of New South Wales ultimately proved the most difficult part of the journey. The Dragon crossed the finish line at Hobart in a dying breeze at 1:05am on December 30th, after 3 days and 12 hours of exhausting work, placing them 13th of 69 boats that finished the race.
In Dennis’s own words: “All in all, it was quite an adventure. I came away with a feeling of accomplishment, and the knowledge that a lofty goal can be personally revitalizing. All the training, preparation, and focus had paid off. I had come away with a deeper understanding of the story of the AFR Midnight Rambler, and what it must have taken for them to win the Tattersal's trophy in those incredible seas during the 1998 Sydney to Hobart. And I had developed new insights about leadership and teamwork.”
We encourage you to get more detail about Dennis’s experience in the 2006 Sydney to Hobart by reading Dennis’s blog at Sailing World Magazine.
The Syncretics Group