Hobart 2016

Onto the final race of 2016, the all time favorite to Hobart. The wx is pretty simple, a fast downwind stretch along the coast, a lighter reaching bit across Bass Strait, and another fast downwind bit alongside Tasmania. Bass Strait is certainly the least predictable, and likely decisive.

To get out of Sydney and clear of the coast is harder than it needs to be. The DCs require some divination, and a polar hop. Once clear it’s all router, because I’m asleep, everyone starts in the same spot and tactics don’t happen yet, and steering into stronger winds is where I expect the router to do a perfect job. The early wx doesn’t change much, it gets more difficult at 10:00.

The first big problem is a gybe scheduled for 10:00. I’m still in strong wind, and about to enter the light patch in Bass Strait. But to gybe half an hour before the next wx? However if I get too close to the coast the wind drops, so I go along with the router. The 1030 wx shows exactly why this is a bad idea. My target moves west, ok. Dingo and rumskib are suddenly in great position. Not so good, but I’ll live. I need to gybe back for about 5 minutes… nonononoNO! Not with the big perf hit at 20kn. I go deep VMG and calculate again ten minutes later… gybe for about 5 minutes! It takes a good half hour on VMG before the router agrees with skipping the gybe.


I’m now basically in cover mode. I want to maintain my position versus Dingo, while waiting for a better wx. This is achieved by sailing VMC(bearing to Dingo -90). If I can maintain position I have 50% odds of winning. I’ll take that.


Since Dingo is actually moving faster, my VMC target must change. The nifty thing is this tends to mirror my router output extremely well. If I match Dingo at 1100 the computed targets will still match him at 1630.


Sure enough the 1630 wx helps me a lot. Too much in fact. Dingo and rumskib are now behind, but this lifts Alexandria on the other side of the course. Same game continues, now with Alex. Unfortunately the 2230 update doesn’t help, and sometime overnight Alexandria uses the polar hop to cross in front of me. I’m definitely a little behind at 0430, but I have a plan. First I need to maintain the status quo until 1030.

Simply put the router wants me to gybe near the coast. Not for much of a shift, but stronger breeze. But the whole gybe sequence lasts only one hour, and at 20kn maneuvers remain super costly. What if…


That’s right, one gybe is better than three. I’m already ahead when approaching Tasman Island, and as a bonus I get a super easy rounding.

My lead quickly escalates to half a mile, and what remains is a victory lap across Storm Bay. Third win in Hobart, and I’ve smashed the course record. What great way to end 2016, thanks to all competitors, and see y’all next year!

One thought on “Hobart 2016”

  1. Good post, thank you!

    From the other side of that final gybing debate:

    I was in doubt about whether the trade-off (two extra gybes for slightly more pressure and better angle) would work, despite the router. I judged that the cost-benefit would be on my side (I still don’t know if it actually would). Anyway, it was surely a poor decision in practical terms, and you showed (and exploited) that quite well.

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