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Celestial on course for overall honours at Sydney-Hobart race

Sam Haynes’ TP52 Celestial is in the box seat to win the Tattersall Cup.

A year ago, Sam Haynes was on the brink of quitting sailing in disappointment after his hopes of overall victory in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race were dashed by a protest.

Haynes is back in Hobart and in the box seat to avenge the set back in this year’s race, with his TP52 Celestial currently holding first place overall.

Haynes, who is also the Vice Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, organiser the race, was cautious to start celebrating too early.

While well positioned, Haynes must still wait for the finish of other boats that could potentially beat Celestial and the outcome of a request for redress at 4pm tomorrow for the GP42, Enterprise Next Generation, owned by Anthony Kirke. The West Australian boat stood by KOA yesterday when the latter lost her rudder. The verdict could impact the final standings.

Also fresh in Haynes’ mind was how Celestial, the TP52 he bought beore the 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart, was relegated to second after a protest against him last year.

“Last year at the finish, we knew we had the best corrected time,” he recalled. “We just about had our hands on the Tattersall Cup… But it wasn’t to be.

Haynes said: “I would have been quite happy to walk away from the sport at that stage, but I am still very involved with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, where I am Vice Commodore. I have a lot of history with the Club and Rolex.

“I also talked to my crew about how they felt. We decided together that we were going to come back, try again.”

Today, Haynes can at least sit in the hot seat on land at Hobart as other yachts continue their journeys.

Celestial sits in first place overall and with good prospects of winning the Tattersall Cup. In second to fourth places were three more TP52s – Gweilo (Matt Donald and Chris Townsend, also from the CYCA), Caro (entered under the New Zealand flag and skippered by Max Klink) and Warrior Won, owned by Christopher Sheehan from Rhode Island.

Gweilo skipper, Matt Donald, lamented not having enough lead on Celestial going into the 11 nautical mile run up the Derwent River.

“We probably didn’t have a big enough lead,” Donald said. “We knew there would be a bit of a tacking duel, [over] that last sort of 10 miles.

“We probably didn’t have the 15 to 20 minutes that we needed over them.

“We beat them over the line, we are happy about that; but they well deserve the win.”

The German skipper of Caro, which was the first TP52 to cross the finish line, praised his crew and the competition between the TP52s and other mid-size boats.

“The crew fought hard all the way, as Celestial, Warrior Won and Gweilo did,” Klink said.

“We had a great tussle, the four of us and a few 60 footers. The race has been great.

“We have been so close to Warrior Won and had two nights of epic racing. We could not ask for more. They (the conditions) were even better than expected.”

Asked how his crew is now they are back on land, Klink replied, with a laugh: “Look at them. They are very nice and good-looking people. They are happy. We are all happy. “The goal was to come first of the 52s. We achieved that and that is all you can hope. Then it is a bit of luck and the rating.”

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