Sydney to Hobart // 27 December 2010

Cricket aside, it’s all about yachts here at the moment. Two Brisbane friends are sailing in the infamous Sydney to Hobart schlep, a father and son on competing vessels in competing classes: Tony Love, skipper and owner of Patriot, a nippy 13.1 metre and his fitter-than-fit son James, grinder on board the maxi, Lahana. Living up to its rep, the flotilla is gamely carving its way through horrid weather on a stretch of the Bass Strait best known for straddling the Roaring Forties. So far, nine boats have pulled out. As it stands, Patriot is running 32nd and Lahana is steaming up ahead in third place. Adding handicaps into the foaming mix, Patriot is looking really good.

The theme of water abounds and the rain here is set (and game and match, for that matter) in. We’re sitting on the outskirts of Cyclone Tasha, lying in a depression in more ways than one. Floods, mayhem, talk of Arcs – though at best just a sad inconvenience for many – it’s been anything but a summery Christmas. I’ve just spent the day driving, and laughing, my way around a sopping, tired-looking Gold Coast. If ever proof of weather-induced cabin-fever was needed, let my trip to the sodden, tacky lights of the ‘Venice of the south’ be it.

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