Only a very few racing sailboats truly deserve to be called classics, and the Spencer 62 Ragtime (nee Infidel) is most certainly one. They just completed an amazing Sydney-hobart race and here is their story. Stand by for shameless commercial plug: Ragtime is powered by a full complement of Elliott/Pattison Sails. Shameless commercial plug is now over.
Sydney-Hobart deserves it reputation as one of the great races in the world. Strong turnouts, incredible crowd interest, an interesting race course and set of challenges, and scenic overflow on both ends of the race course. sailing on Sydney Harbor alone is a lifetime experience – just gorgeous.
The start in Sydney Harbor can not be described. The fleet is split in two lines, but not right and left – a big boat first line and the balance of the fleet on the second line, 500 yards back. This leaves the first line fleet circling in a small box. In four years of starting Ragtime at various events, nothing has been as adrenaline charged, scary fast, and over the top. . This is the crystal meth of yachting starts. Wild Oats and Skandia searing through the big boat fleet at 10-15 knots, huge easing and groaning sounds in 15 knots of breeze. Long bowsprits swing like scythes, and many of the mini speedsters have weapons too, but Ragtime is weaponless – no bumping or contact allowed. We’re mid-line and early, and in range of Skandia’s swinging blade. Blackjack (ex-SRM) is always startlingly fast around us. And a spectator fleet lined up tooth and jowl pressing against the yellow buoy lines on both sides of the course. So many spectators that their ranks are impenetrable like a seawall.