local knowledge


Okay, we give you all kinds of articles from all kinds of perspectives and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We particularly enjoy hearing about boats and people that we otherwise would know little about. Here’s a boat that, if nothing else is giving one hell of an effort for their big race and really, that is what it’s all about.

Beneath the new racing stripes is a much greater force that has seen She’s the Culprit, an Inglis 39, fast shape up as one of Tasmania’s top yachts to watch in this year’s Sydney to Hobart. Tasmanian skipper and owner Todd Leary unveiled his modified 39-footer this week, which is set to be an average 1 knot quicker, setting a cracking pace for the record Tasmanian fleet.

The deck has been extended and the sail area has increased by a massive 50 per cent, potentially cutting as much as 16 hours off the time She’s the Culprit set in the 628 nautical mile ocean race last year.

“We finished 52nd last year and we were the second Tassie boat across the line, but we’ll be much more competitive this year,” Leary said. “We’ve sacrificed racing in the summer pennant series, we’ve sacrificed everything, to make sure we had her in peak racing condition for this year’s race.”

For the past four months the crew of 10, who have 13 Sydney to Hobart races under their belts, have worked tirelessly to revamp the Inglis 39. She’s the Culprit not only boasts an extra 20 per cent sail area upwind and 37 per cent down wind, it also has a 1m extension to the spinnaker pole, three new sails and an additional 4ft of deck space.

“It’s more than just the paint job and racing stripes that will make the Culprit really competitive,’’ Leary said. “The changes we’ve made will make a huge difference to our speed, especially in the light breeze and down wind. “We’re a heavier boat so in the light wind we were slow, but now we’ve increased our sail area so we’ll fly through the light stuff, while keeping our strength in the heavy weather.’’

A shot-gun team of some of Tasmania’s best young sailors will also add to the She’s the Culprit’s arsenal. “We definitely have a stronger crew this year, they’re young, strong and experienced,” Leary said. “Most of them are Farr 40 sailors, so they know how crucial every tactical manoeuvre, every tack and jibe and every sail change is. “But the real key is that we’re all team players so the huge amount of knowledge everyone has will be invaluable tactically, we should be really strong.”

Preparation has also been vital, as Leary admitted last year’s preparations were less than favourable, having only bought the boat four-months before lining up on Sydney Harbor on Boxing Day last year. Leary, 39, came to sailing late after retiring as Tasmania’s leading formula one power boat racer on the Australian circuit in 2006. “Last year everyone said I was the rookie in the Tasmanian sailing fleet, but I’ve clocked up quite a few sea miles now and have a lot more confidence than I did last year,’’ Leary said.

She’s the Culprit is one of nine Tasmanian yachts entered in this year’s Sydney to Hobart, the biggest contingent since the 50th anniversary race in 1994. While Tasmanian Sean Langman’s chartered maxi Maximus will be almost unbeatable, the competition between the remaining Tasmanian yachts is set to be heated. “Dekadence, Auch, Archie and the Helsal yachts are all good competitors and will be hard to shake,” Leary said. “We tussled with Valheru last year so we know they’re strong too. “But they beat us by less than 10 hours so in the right conditions we could have them. “Actually, if we have a good down hill run the Culprit will be very hard for any Tasmanian boat to beat.”

The She’s the Culprit crew includes: Todd Leary, Rod Chamberlain, Grant Davis, George Peacock, Paul Nanscawen, Tim Cubit, Matt Cubit, Mark Jeffery, Daniel Followes and Stuart Wells.

The Tasmanian contingent in this year’s Sydney to Hobart also includes: Sally Rattle and Scott Brain’s Archambault 35 Archie; David Bean’s Beneteau 44.7 Auch, David Creese’s DK46 Dekadence,  Sean Langman’s maxi Maximus, Tony and Bob Fisher’s Adams/Barrett 20 Helsal III, Tony Fisher’s Dynamique 62 Helsal IV and Tony Lyall’s Elliott 43 Valheru.