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banner Saturday, 29 December, 2001, 17:49 GMT
Tough legacy of a Sydney classic
Ludde Ingvall is skipper of Nicorette
Nicorette won last year's Sydney to Hobart in brutal seas
BBC Sport Online charts the choppy history of the Sydney to Hobart race, which lived up to its fierce reputation in 2001.

The Sydney to Hobart race, traditional post-Christmas fare for southern hemisphere sailing enthusiasts, has a proud but danger-fraught history.

In 1998, six competitors - including British Olympian Glyn Charles - died when bad weather engulfed the fleet of 115.

Only 44 boats made it the 630 miles to Hobart that year, while 12 yachts were sunk and 55 sailors had to be plucked from the raging sea by helicopters.

It is by far the hardest race to qualify for from a safety aspect and it should be
Ludde Ingvall
Skipper of Nicorette

In the wake of this tragedy and in response to a damning inquest report delivered by a New South Wales state coroner, strict safety requirements were introduced.

The costs associated with these new regulations have conspired to limit the field to 76 in 2001 - the smallest turn-out for 28 years.

But Ludde Ingvall, last year's winning skipper on Nicorette, backs the changes.

"It is by far the hardest race to qualify for from a safety aspect and it should be because it is the hardest race anywhere that I've ever done," he said.

"The whole yachting fraternity is using what happened in Sydney as a way to shape up the rules on safety."

Competing craft must now carry specific types of life rafts, as well as satellite units and radio beacons to help track their position.

Kostecki is one of eight Volvo Ocean Race skippers in the Sydney to Hobart
Kostecki leads the Volvo challenge of Illbruck

None of these made plain sailing of the Boxing Day, 2001 voyage - which included eight yachts competing in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Ingvall, who swore to never sail the "Bluewater Classic" again after a rough voyage in 2000, found his craft sucked into a tornado part way through the race.

He battled back to finish second to Volvo boat Assa Abloy.

But all skippers spoke afterwards of the hostile conditions they had faced in the Bass Straight between Sydney and Hobart.

Guy Swindells reports for BBC Sport
"It's one of the most important days in the whole event"
Links to more Sailing stories are at the foot of the page.


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