Alive, owned by Phillip Turner and skippered by Duncan Hine, is the 2023 overall winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The Reichel Pugh 66 arrived in Hobart on 28th December at 3:19:04 p.m. to become only the second Tasmanian boat to have their name inscribed on the legendary Tattersall Cup not once, but twice.
“We’ve proved it wasn’t a fluke by winning it twice, so going into the history books I suppose is quite an honour.” commented Hine on his second overall win on this boat in five years, in typical understated fashion.
Preparation, experience and local knowledge proved to be invaluable for the winning crew, as conditions along the 628-nautical mile course pushed the smaller boats in particular to their limit.
Alive chose the same strategy as the maxis at the front of the fleet and headed east out of the Sydney heads, aiming to get around the worst of the storm fronts and harness the best of the easterly wind, a decision not without its concerns for skipper Hine.
“It was tricky, when you’re more than 100 miles east of the rhumb line and still going away from land and you’re going through the transition and thinking ‘is it ever going to come back to the way it was forecast’ – well, on one of the models.”
Like many of the 103 boats facing this arduous adventure, Alive had its share of breakages to contend with. “We were one sail down and it was the best sail for this race, we blew it out on the first day, but we hung on to URM. If we’d had that jib top we might have actually been in front of her.”
After 48 hours of battling the elements and shadowing their closest rivals on URM Group, as has often been the case in the near 80-year history of the event, the final 10 miles up Hobart’s Derwent River would decide the ultimate winner of this offshore epic.
“We didn’t realise URM was in the river, we actually thought she’d finished, and we saw her and thought, there it is. I knew what was going on and that the westerly weather pattern would replace the southerly that they had coming down the river. So the hole that they fell into is well-known to any Hobartian sailor.”
Illustrating the importance of impeccable preparation and a wealth of experience, Alive’s navigator Adrienne Cahalan, a former Australian yachtswoman of the year and now on her 31st Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, had a plan from the start, and it was a good one.
“We stuck to our strategy. You try to make as many decisions as you can before you leave the dock. But in this race particularly, there were a lot of challenging scenarios, things were changing out there. But I was lucky to work with Stu Bannatyne and Gavin Brady, who'd done many around the world races. And we’d talked about it beforehand and we went and executed it, and it paid off.”
Organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in conjunction with the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Rolex has partnered the iconic Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race since 2002. Now in its 78th edition, the annual event is internationally renowned as one of the most arduous rites of passage in offshore sailing, and is a cornerstone of the Swiss watchmaker’s elite yachting partnerships.