The Witchdoctor casts spell over record

  • Racing
  • NEWS
  • By Jennifer Crooks
  • 31 Dec 2006 15:33:00
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Geoff Barter and Maurie Cameron from Phillip's Foote Witchdoctor at the official launch of the 2006 Rolex Sydney Hobart

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The experienced skipper considers that 85% of sailing is absolutely perfect; 10% is quite ordinary; and 5% is just plain awful.

When Phillip’s Foote Witchdoctor crossed the line at three minutes past six last evening, it created a new record for the most Rolex Sydney Hobarts contested by a yacht, 26.

Skipper Maurie Cameron, sailing his 32nd race, was quite philosophical about the yacht’s milestone: “It’s just a record and records are there to be broken. We knew before we started we would set a new record but we approached this race with victory uppermost in our minds.”

Phillip’s Foote Witchdoctor found conditions not to their liking during the first 24 hours, and Cameron said the sea conditions were some of the worst he had experienced.

“It was awful … we went out to get the 4 knot current but the strong southerly winds pushing against that current made the waves really stand up. It wasn’t the wind but the steep sea conditions that made the going really tough. But at least we didn’t break or tear anything.”

Cameron reckons that Witchdoctor is a “funny old boat, built to maximise handicap under the old IOR design rules.” Although ‘the Witchdoctor’ is 42 feet long, she only has a waterline length of 30 feet and that means she is at her best when sliding through the water at a 20 degree angle.

The experienced skipper considers that 85% of sailing is absolutely perfect; 10% is quite ordinary; and 5% is just plain awful. It is that 5% that may not see Philip’s Foote Witchdoctor compete in next year’s race. But according to Cameron, “Just ask me in 6 months!”

Also on board Phillip's Foote Witchdoctor was Geoff Barter doing his 30th Rolex Sydney Hobart and Tony Cable sailing his 43rd.

Other milestones to be reached this year were Victorian yachtsman Lou Abrahams (Challenge) reaching the record set by the late John Bennetto for the most number of races by an individual, 44, John Walker (Impeccable) at 84 equalling the record for the oldest skipper, Wild Oats XI achieving back to back line honours wins and Love & War equalling Freya’s triple win of the Tattersalls Cup overall handicap, although not in consecutive years.

The International Jury met today to grant redress to the two yachts which assisted during the rescue of the crew from the sinking Ray White Koomooloo and agreed to award the British Corps of Signal crew on Adventure five hours off their elapsed time and Jim and Mary Holley’s Aurora four hours.

Alex Whitworth’s Brolga 33 Berrimilla crossed the finish line at 2.50pm this afternoon with just one yacht, David Kent’s Gillawa, still to complete the 628 nautical mile race.

Image: Daniel Forster/Rolex

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