FULL SPEED AHEAD: Merit came 20th overall at the 2011 Rolex Sydney - Hobart Race.
FULL SPEED AHEAD: Merit came 20th overall at the 2011 Rolex Sydney - Hobart Race.

Whitsunday sailors finish second

BEING a sail maker by trade made all the difference for local sailor Andrew Jenkin who took part in the 2011 Rolex Sydney - Hobart Race last week on board Was abi.

Jenkin and fellow Whitsunday sailor Greg Tobin were part of eight crew on board Bruce Mackay's Wasabi for the annual event. The Sayer 43 tore its mainsail during the race.

"We lost 40 nautical miles the first night trying to repair it because it had to be dry before we could start patching it up," he said.

Jenkin helped repair the sail by hand below deck and his handiwork stayed fast for the remainder of the race with Wasabi taking second place in the Performance Handicap division.

It was Jenkin's third time competing in the race.

But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the crew with one crew member suffering severe sea sickness and another almost going overboard.

"We quickly grabbed the sails and slowed down in time before he went over board," Jenkin said.

"You don't know if you will suffer from sea sickness until you do a Sydney - Hobart."

Whitsunday Volvo 60 Merit also raced in the Sydney - Hobart again this year.

Merit co-owner and skipper Leo Rodriguez described this year's race as "pretty ordinary".

"Conditions were bad because there were remnants of a cyclone off the coast near Brisbane," he said.

Rodriguez and his crew also had mishaps on the boat with a tear in the headsail and the wind gear breaking off the top of the mast.

"It certainly affected our sailing because we had to go back to sailing old school, sailing with a compass," he said.

"The only way we could fix the headsail was to sail downwind which meant we were sailing in the opposite direction at about 17-18 knots."

Overall Merit came in 20th position, and will be based in Sydney before returning to the Whitsundays in coming months.

Merit's race was dedicated to well known sailor Nick Wells who passed away last November.

This year's race was also Rodriguez' last for a few years.

"I told my girl I would be home for a Christmas in the Whitsundays next year," he said.


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