|HOBART, 15.00 AEDT-(31-12-2004) Melbourne yachtsman Bruce Taylor, the winner of the hotly contested Sydney 38 division of the 60th Anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, says he is starting to learn to take risks.
Taylor steered Chutzpah across the finish line one hour and one minute ahead of the next placed Sydney 38, Team Lexus, because he came into the Tasmanian coast early while his rival stayed offshore hoping for a wind shift that never came.
“The south-easter that everybody planned to use on the bottom of the island just didn’t eventuate and I think that’s caused some people some grief,” Taylor said.
Arguably no other division in this 2004 Rolex Sydney Hobart has been as hotly contested as the one design Sydney 38 class. These boats have become enormously popular and eleven of them left Sydney to make their own race-within-a-race. For Taylor that added an “intriguing” new element to the race.
“Normally we’re racing the clock but this time we were specifically racing other boats,” he said. “At one stage sliding down the New South Wales coast we looked out the companionway and there were six Sydney 38s lined up. We thankfully were about two hundred metres in front of them but it was just a great sight.”
Of course not long after that the southerly gales hit them and scattered the Sydney 38s over Bass Strait.
“We’ve got this theory that if you have a good delivery trip up from Melbourne the race will be a bummer. The trip up we put the spinnaker up at the yacht club in Williamstown and took it down at Sydney Heads so we sort of knew we could be in for a bit of a hammering
“This is a big boat for us, a bit of a luxury cruise compared with our previous, smaller Chutzpahs. We found it hard but not that difficult. We’re all getting older, the bodies a bit more knocked around. Twenty years ago the guys were all looking for wives when they got here and now the wives and children are waiting here looking for them.”
This is the fifth Chutzpah Taylor has campaigned in his 24 Rolex Sydney Hobarts, and this win extends his remarkable record of six earlier divisional wins. He has also finished in second and third place overall, but again that precious first overall has eluded him.
Taylor thinks he is getting there though. He is learning to back his hunches more and put his boat in places on the course he would not have dared when he was younger.
“If you want to win a Hobart you really can’t be conservative,” Taylor says. “The first few years we just sailed very logically and conservatively but its evident that somewhere down the track the guys who win take a flyer.
“We always finish in the top ten but the guys who win sometimes come thirtieth, but then they just pull off a stunt occasionally and we’re starting to do that.”
Third place in the Sydney 38 One Design division went to Another Challenge, sailed by the youthful Team Melbourne Uni with Chris Lewin as skipper.