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Sydney-Hobart race has Hunter touches

IT’S not often you get to interview a Sydney-Hobart skipper while he’s sitting in hospital awaiting results from a possible heart attack, but Glen Picasso knows better than most that worse things happen at sea.
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“Funny story,” the man nicknamed ‘Cyril’ said dryly. “But I’ll have to call you back … the doctor’s coming over.”The news was good, although the 58-year-old will be monitored before the Sydney-Hobart start on Boxing Day. When asked what it meant for his race prospects he quipped, “Nothing … Everyone else is freaking out but I’m fine.”

SOCIAL: Skipper Glen Picasso will be aboard She’s the Culprit along with a crew that includes four Hobart debutantes: Kristen Anderson, Kathy Hall, Tristan Hough and Richard Hooper plus HMRI medical researcher Trent Butler.

HOPEFUL: Newcastle yacht Dare Devil contested its first Hobart race last year with an international crew and finished 52nd overall.

Picasso had been at home on Monday night when he felt chest pain and summoned an ambulance. He’s tough as teak though, having survived the 1998 Hobart storm aboard Tony Mowbray’s Solo Globe Challenger before being air-lifted.He’d spent the day delivering She’s the Culprit – an Inglis/Jones 39 co-owned with Glenn Bulmer and David O’Dowd – from Lake Macquarie to Newcastle Harbour for some final odd jobs.The owners couldn’t resist returning to Hobart for 2015 after winning PHS overall last year. They also claimed the inaugural Corinthian Trophy eclipsing race victor Wild Rose.“It was a glamour run,” Picasso recalled. “We set the spinnaker off Jervis Bay and dropped it at Tasman Light … hitting a top speed of 23 knots.”

Picasso is relishing the chance to share the experience with a crew that includes four Hobart debutantes:Kristen Anderson, Kathy Hall, Tristan Hough and Richard Hooper. HMRI medical researcher Trent Butler is lining up for his third race.As well as being a social boat, Culprit is also successful. It was second overall (PHS) in the 2014 Sydney Gold Coast race and won PHS Division 2 in the 2012 Pittwater to Coffs race.

Only two other Newcastle yachts are lining up on Boxing Day, Sibby Ilzhofer’s Dare Devil and Mick Martin’s Frantic, making it one of our smaller contingents.Dare Devil contested its first Hobart race last year with an international crew and finished 52nd overall. Sibby received the Jane Tate Memorial Trophy awarded to the first female skipper to finish.Travel Play Live is supporting Dare Devil’s campaign in partnership with White Ribbon to raise money and awareness about violence against women.

Former Wallaby Mick Martin is hoping to recapture the form that won him the 2013 Gosford-Lord Howe Island race aboard his well-travelled TP52 Frantic but will need strong winds and some inspiration from new skiff-sailing crewmen Brad Greenrod and Jonathan Francis.Frantic was 48th overall in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart after finishing 24th in 2013.

A Newcastle yacht there in spirit at least is the former Funnel-Web, now christened Climate Action Now. Queensland-based skipper Lisa Blair bought the Open 50 from Ivan MacFadyen with the goal of becoming the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica, solo, non-stop and unassisted.As Funnel-Web, the Hick-designed 50-footer finished the Melbourne-Osaka race. The Sydney-Hobart race will help her raise awareness of the global climate.The gun fires at 1pm on December 26.

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