|SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA-(7-12-2006) Most Rolex Sydney Hobart skippers and crews are enjoying an incident free lead up to the 26 December start on Sydney Harbour but the clock is ticking for one entrant.
Matthew Percy’s Beneteau 44.7 Alacrity from Southport on the Queensland Gold Coast had a close encounter with the infamous Sow and Pigs reef in Sydney Harbour during the return leg of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Cabbage Tree Island Race in mid November.
On a dark night, they and two other boats hit the rocks with Alacrity suffering the worst damage – the impact broke the hull structure of the boat - however they managed to finish the race, and collect fourth in division.
That was a almost a month ago and she is still undergoing major repairs at River Quays where a team of designers and boat builders are working hard to have her back in the water before Boxing Day.
Well known designers Andy Dovell and John Biddlecombe are overseeing the removal of the cracked fibreglass which has to be replaced with new fibreglass. This process should be finished by the end of this week then the mast will have to be stepped and the keel attached before Alacrity can be relaunched. At this stage the overhauled Beneteau is due to go back in the water just 11 days out from the start of Australia’s premier ocean race on 26 December at 1.00pm.
“As they say, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger,” says a philosophical Percy who has been commuting weekly from Southport to Sydney to oversee the repair work and make decisions as required.
“This has given us a good opportunity to do a complete overall of the safety of the boat. All potential issues with the rig or the hull delaminating have been covered off as a result of the work that has been done on the boat.
“There will still be a lot of pressure once she’s launched. We’ll have to test everything on the boat to make sure it’s as good as it was, if not better,” adds Percy.
This will be the first Rolex Sydney Hobart for Percy with the Beneteau he purchased from David Mason fresh from its win in the CYCA’s 2004-05 Blue Water Pointscore Series when it was sailing as Prime Time.
Percy will carry largely a Queensland and New South Wales crew south with plenty of international flavour thanks to an Irish bow woman who now lives in Australia and two French imports, renowned Beneteau sailors and brothers Tangvy and Jerome Fourier Le Ray.
Following the withdrawal of Rob Hanna’s Shogun, the Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet is at 82.