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No surprise at all, really

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 27 Mar 22:00 BST
Third overall under IRC was Sebastien Saulnier's Sun Fast 3300 Moshimoshi. Racing with Christophe Affolter, Moshimoshi was the first team to finish the race in IRC Two-Handed © James Mitchell / RORC

Always been impressed by the short-handers. Not on my own there, either. Over the last few years I've written a lot about it all, and to see them take off in famous races around the globe, like the Fastnet, has been more than a buzz. Of course, when our own backyard joined the party for the 2021 Sydney Hobart race with a two-handed division, well it just made it all the more interesting again.

I was completely captivated by the line from a very qualified pro ocean racer who said that if a two-handed crew won the overall prize, then they deserved to keep the cup for life. Obviously, that part of the journey did not come to pass, but it did not stop the crews getting right into it, nor me from tapping away merrily.

Now when it was all done, the analysis showed that these crews had made a sterling effort, and were not that far off the pace of like boats that were fully crewed. Many of them could barely use their autohelm due to the conditions, so I am still in awe of crews that steered, trimmed, ran the boat, did the scheds, made food, caught a nap somehow, did reefing, sail changes and everything else, all whilst your eyes must have been falling out of your head so far as to be getting severely scuffed up by the non-skid on the deck. Respect.

One person who was such a big part of our Hobart coverage last year was Lee Condell from the Jeanneau importer, Performance Boating. I am sorry to say that he won't be able to impart his detailed knowledge of sailing short-handed, or the local scene during the race this year. Damn. However, he has a really good really reason, and we could not wish him more than the best, as he will actually be out at sea for the 2022 Sydney Hobart competing in the two-handed division.

Before all of that, Condell will be on board a Jeanneau Sun Fast 3200 sailing four-up in the Pittwater to Coffs race, where there will also be one of the Sun Fast 3600s that Call Australia Home. Indeed, it would seem quite a lot of the sailors that comprise this burgeoning group have been quietly working away preparing for this grand affair, and all the races that lead up to it. Many have been waiting for the provisional season schedule to be published by the CYCA to lock some things down.

Now there are something like 100 of the easy-to-spot 3300 plying the waves around the globe and a dozen of them sing the chorus of the famous Peter Allen tune. It is expected that some 30+ two-handers will make the start line this December, and five could well be the distinctive, double concave, snub-nosers.

At any rate, his new Sun Fast 3300 arrives into Brisbane in April, and it has a new North Sails wardrobe all set for her to wear. Condell will be sailing with Lincoln Dews, but right now let's read what Condell has to say about the boat, the campaign, and the desire to take it on.

"There's a real buzz amongst the short-handed racing community in Sydney, and I can't wait to be a part of it! My Sun Fast 3300, owned in conjunction with Victorian Jeanneau importer Rohan Veal, arrives late next month into Brisbane for commissioning, after which he will campaign it across the winter, before I take it over in August for the season leading into the Sydney-Hobart."

"Joining me as co-skipper is acclaimed waterman Lincoln Dews, who took part in last year's inaugural two-handed Hobart on the family-owned Sun Fast 3200, Hell's Bells. Sadly, he and co-skipper Andrew Scott were forced to retire, so this is very much unfinished business for him. Lincoln and I have been friends through sailing and other water sports for some years. He and I had entered the race to Coffs Harbour in the two-handed division two years ago on my then Sun Fast 40, Samphire, but that race was cancelled.

"This new Sun Fast 3300 will be called Sunfast Racing, and will be one of at least five 3300s expected to be taking part in the two-handed division in the Hobart, along with multiple J/99s, Beneteau Firsts, and Sydney 36s that will make up the bulk of the short-handed fleet," said Condell.

"Recently, I've been racing on two of the 3300s that are in Sydney getting to learn this amazing design, while Lincoln has been racing both his 3200 and other 3300s in Queensland. Like all of the short-handers, we are working out how to optimise these boats to get the best performance versus rating, so there is a lot of work to be done.

"Many sailing luminaries, such as North Sails President Ken Read, Dee Caffari, Alex Ozon (who just won the Trans Quadra single-handed transatlantic race), and Shirley Robinson are all racing them, so there is a fount of knowledge now on how to get the best out of this extraordinary design."

"My motivation for doing this year's Hobart is primarily for the challenge, and my love of short-handed sailing. I spent six seasons racing my water-ballasted Mount Gay 30, Lik Lik, in the SSAA series, culminating in winning the three longest races of my last season racing single-handed. I absolutely loved it.

"There are other factors that are driving me too. A key element is to honour my dad, Alan Condell, who sadly passed away late last year, so I very much want to honour him, as he was the reason that my twin Jeff and I got into sailing and progressed to being respectable sailors with multiple National titles under our belts."

"In a few months I turn 60, and this year is also my 20th year as a Jeanneau dealer, so it seems like a fitting time to challenge myself with a Hobart. For some time now I've had in my mind that when the CYCA introduced a two-handed division that was something that I would be up for. Last year wasn't the year for many reasons, so this year is it!"

The brave new world has begun. And how, it would seem. To anyone doing anything from a midweek OTB jaunt to a transoceanic passage we simply say, YeeHaa! Do your prep, keep a weather eye at all times and push off...

So let's go for a yacht. Indeed!!! Meanwhile, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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