Pelagic Magic does Canberra proud in 2015 Sydney to Hobart yacht race

A crew of predominantly Canberra-based sailors held their own and then some in the demanding Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Pelagic Magic's skipper, Simon Dunlop, and his crew pulled into Constitution Dock at 5.05am on Thursday, December 31, in time to see the sun rise on the final day of 2015.

Pelagic Magic battles 40 knot squalls on the second day of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
Pelagic Magic battles 40 knot squalls on the second day of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Photo: Lynne Dunlop

The 10 men who flew the nautical flag for the capital had hoped the yacht would be among the first 20 to cross the line, but they missed that honour by a whisker, coming in 21st.

"We were pretty chuffed with where we finished," Mr Dunlop said, adding more than 30 boats had retired.

"Basically we had eight weeks to train and prepare, but we pulled it all together.

"I'm tickled pink."


The skipper was also thrilled to do the race with his son as part of the crew for the first time.

Graeme Dunlop was the bowman, arguably one of the toughest positions.

Seasoned sailor Paul Jones, who notched up his 11th Sydney to Hobart last week, said the younger Mr Dunlop "did a great job" as foredeck.

Erik Adriaanse was the other veteran, completing his 26th race, while the rest of the Pelagic Magic crew were relative novices.

Canberrans Michael Martin, John Tracey, Simon Chapple and Pat Cotterill, Sam McDonald of Ulladulla and Tony Sutton of Batemans Bay had tackled the race three times or less.

Mr Jones explained the benefits of being able to "do everything moderately well" rather than having too many specialists on board.

"We were pretty chuffed with where we finished."

Simon Dunlop

He said people needed to be "very tolerant" on a 40 foot yacht like Pelagic Magic.

Several of the sailors praised the sense of camaraderie, which helped to achieve what Mr Martin termed "the best result possible".

He said he liked getting to know the crew better, "connecting well and working as a team in extreme conditions".

"It's as much about the race as it is about looking internally and pushing yourself and supporting each other," he said.

Mr Jones pointed out that each year was different in terms of the overall experience, the weather and "the yachts around you".

The elements played a major role in 2015's drama at sea, with 40 knot squalls hitting the boats on the first night.

Mr Cotterill said his first Sydney to Hobart was the third offshore race he had ever tackled and it was "great".

"It had its wet and uncomfortable moments and its brilliant moments as well," he said.

For Simon Chapple, crossing the finish line was an incredible opportunity and "a lifelong dream fulfilled".

What made the experience even better was the discovery that his wife Alison was among the partners on the dock, cheering the Pelagic Magic into Hobart.