A GROUP of Lake Macquarie sailors are hoping an idea which started as a stranger’s bucket-list challenge ends with them winning jugs of rum and coke and the prestigious handicap crown in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
Anthony Paterson, a two-time division winner as owner and skipper of Tow Truck, will combine with his old crewmates Gary van Dijk, Troy Poulsen, Tony May, Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club chief executive Richard Howard, navigator Brett Filby and Sydney’s Paul Williams aboard Occasional Course Language Too today.
The year-old Ker43 is the pride and joy of 58-year-old Sydney to Hobart rookie Warwick Sherman, who started planning his assault on the race when he was diagnosed with cancer.
Sherman, having recovered from his battle with the illness, called on Paterson and his experienced crew six months ago to combine with him for a Hobart tilt.
And after some impressive results in lead-up races, including overall honours in the Lion Island Botany Bay race, Occasional Course Language Too is being tipped as a dark horse for handicap glory. Paterson said hopes were also high among the crew.
‘‘Warwick has spent a considerable amount of money putting this together and he has all the best equipment on this boat,’’ Paterson said. ‘‘Our number one priority is to try and win our division, then hopefully if you do that, the overall favours your division.
‘‘We’re very lucky that Warwick has put the money up and we’ve teamed up together.
‘‘They’ve got a good team, we’ve got a good team and we’re lucky to be a part of it.’’
Sherman tracked down the former Tow Truck crew, who raced Mumm 30 and Ker 11.3 boats under the title, winning their division in the iconic race in 2008 and 2009.
Paterson was excited about the opportunity to vie for overall honours in his 11th attempt at the race.
‘‘We’ve won divisions and come second, but handicap honours just haven’t favoured the smaller boats,’’ he said.
‘‘The weather patterns have favoured the bigger boats, and hopefully this year it suits us.’’
To claim their division, which covers the 40-foot yachts, the Lake Macquarie sailors must defeat Midnight Rambler, which provides the Lake men great motivation.
‘‘Richard’s brother Will Howard is going down on our main rivals for the division, Midnight Rambler,’’ Paterson said.
‘‘He’s a local guy and another Tow Truck guy but has opted to go down on a different boat as well. Hopefully we’ll beat up on Will.
‘‘We always have a bet of a few jugs as well with the Midnight Rambler guys about who gets there first.’’