double team

With the line honors and major handicap positions now almost certainly settled, it’s time to give some attention to a segment of the 2022 Sydney-Hobart fleet that’s largely been overlooked by the media – the two-handers.

Last year they were the center of controversy when the Cruising Yacht Club ruled that they could compete as a separate division but not be eligible for the overall prizes in IRC and ORCi. Since then the club has changed its mind. The two-handers now sail for the main trophies, plus in their own handicap divisions.

So how are they faring? Well, the fear of many traditional offshore racers that they would outperform equivalent conventional yachts seems to be unfounded. The popular wisdom was that smaller, lightweight flyers such as the Sunfast 3300 and J/99 would race at impressive levels alongside their fully crewed rivals, especially with the wind on, or behind, the beam.

That hasn’t happened. Many have sailed well, but they were never a podium threat to the larger, well-funded and professionally crewed boats. The first six places on IRC – the overall winning category – are now filled by TP52s in a remarkable display of their dominance.

The best-performed two-hander on scratch so far is Ocean Crusader J-Bird, a restored TP52 currently in 35th place. On IRC the Lombard 34 Mistral is lying in 26th with Sun Fast Racing 32nd. The J/99 Rum Rebellion (above) is always well prepared and sailed but appears to have struggled over the 628nm distance. She is currently down in 56th place on IRC…

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