Sibby Ilzhofer and Dare DevilNewcastle owner-skipper Sibby Ilzhofer and her Dare Devil crew are taking inspiration from Sydney to Hobart powerhouses Wild Oats XIand InfoTrack for this year’s race.
Like eight-time winner Wild Oats XI, Ilzhofer’s Farr-Cookson 47 is aimingfor third time lucky afterbreakdowns ruined their past two runs at Hobart.
InfoTrack, formerly named Perpetual Loyal, did just that last year when itsmashed the race record following two failures.
But unlike the multi-million dollar operations, Ilzhofer iscoming back for the Boxing Day start on a shoestring budget after falling well short of Hobartwith costly brokenrudders.
“It’s not easy as a single person without corporate backing or a team of money behind me,” Ilzhofer said.
“I work very, very hard to get to the start line and it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.Just with the experience of training the crew and ironing out all the creases.”
The greatest challenge, of course, has been finding the right rudder.Ilzhofer was confident the boat was race ready this time.
“Thedifference this time around is I’ve had a lot to say about what rudder I want,” she said. “Whereas last year I got talked into the rudder.
“I expressed my concerns to everyone about it.I’m not a naval architect or an engineer, but my comment was that ‘it doesn’t look significant enough’. It looked inferior but everyone kept laughing at me, telling me it’s the best rudder.
“I foundit was seriously under-speced forthe boat’s need and the loads on it.”
Scallywag designer Andy Dovellbuilt a new rudder for Dare Devil, which was third in its division at theSydney to Gold Coast race in August.
“He explained why last year’s failed andwhy it wasn’t the right rudder for the boat,” Illzhofer said. “He said my gut instinct was right and the proportion was wrong.
“He’s designed a rudder more significant in the foil and thicker, and it also has a sacrificial tip, whichmeans if there is a failure, we can stillfinish the race.
“So far the difference is she turns on her heel and there’s been no round-ups at all.”
Illzhofer, who lives in Port Stephens and sails Dare Devil out of Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, won the Jane Tate Memorial Trophy as the first female skipper to Hobart in 2014 and she hopes to mount a challenge again.
“It’s up for grabs again and I’m very keen on that and I’m very keen on obviously winning something in our divisions as well,” she said.
“But it’s a long journey.”
Dare Devil, which has a 12-strong mix of Sydney and international crew members,is one of just three Newcastle\Lake Macquarie boats in the fleet, along with Freyja and She’s The Culprit, this year.
“I would hope that all of Newcastle gets behind us, because it’s a huge, amazing feeling when you’ve got a home town and organisations behind you,”Illzhofer said.
“It’s very overwhelming and in a way it’s what keeps you going, knowing you’ve got all these people cheering behind you andwanting you to do well.”