The crews of 12 yachts in the 2000 Telstra Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race celebrated the New Year at sea - and ten of them were still racing at 8am on Monday.
Two boats were in the River Derwent at that stage, struggling to make way in very light conditions and some of the tailenders may not even finish until late in the day. However, they are enjoying pleasant off-the-wind sailing conditions with freshening north-easterly breezes in contrast to the days of pounding into headwinds and rough seas across Bass Strait and down the East Coast of Tasmania.
Since midnight two yachts have crossed the finish line, the veteran sloop Mark Twain (Hugh O'Neill) from Sydney finishing her 23rd Sydney to Hobart Race at 04.13.32 and the Lake Macquare yacht Santana (Mike Kelaher) at 05.48.44. Mark Twain's 23 races is a record for the Sydney to Hobart Race. Another remarkable achievement in this race has been Tasmanian yachtsman John Bennetto's 40th Sydney to Hobart, equalling the record of Richard "Sightie" Hammond from Sydney, who did not compete this year. Bennetto skippered his 50-footer Mirrabooka. Victorian yachtsman Lou Abrahams, skippering Another Challenge, completed his 38th race, 35 of them as skipper of his own yachts, believed to be a record.
Veteran Sydney sailor John Quinn is a believer in the value of commitment and persistence to get a result and the result this summer has been another divisional handicap win in the 2000 Telstra Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Quinn's 30-year-old Cole 43, Polaris of Belmont, is the winner of IRC Division B in the 630 nautical mile ocean classic.
Quinn sparked a major night search during the stormy 1993 Hobart race, in which 71 yachts retired and only 44 finished. He was washed from his then yacht, the J35 MEM, in Bass Strait and spent more than five hours in the water before being sighted in the spotlight of a searching container ship and picked up by a yacht that had retired. The courageous yachtsman resumed racing in 1995 with Polaris, winning his division, and has maintained that form with divisional fourth the following year and then won his division in 1997 and again in 1998. After a break from the 1999 race, Quinn returned this year for his 18th Sydney to Hobart Race, with his experienced crew, which between them have 55 Hobart races to their credit.