Skipper Roger Hickman says Wild Rose can’t be ignored as a genuine contender for overall honours in this year’s Sydney to Hobart, especially given the tricky conditions forecast.
As he prepares for his 37th race, Hickman has Wild Rose well and truly race ready despite her age.
Invoking Australian cricket’s never-say-die spirit and the conscientious tortoise’s battle with the cocky hare, he is setting himself for what is shaping up as an epic race in his 28-year-old boat.
“This is a wide open race and the handicap gives us time,” Hickman told AAP.
“We are out there to experience what this great race has to offer, but we also want to take the spoils if we can.
“She is a slow boat, she sits low in the water, but there are a lot of currents this year and that makes a big difference to the slow boats like ours.”
The NSW Bureau of Meteorology says it expects a wet and humid start to the race on Boxing Day, with temperatures in the mid-20s.
Winds are forecast to swing to the northeast as the fleet makes its way down the coast with winds possibly getting up to 20 knots on Thursday evening.
On Friday, the fleet could encounter some frustrating conditions with the possibility of some lighter air while an evening fresh nor’easter is likely to be in play right down the coast, with winds up to 20 knots.
On Saturday morning, there may be a freshening nor’easter and the possibility of a strong wind warning.
Hickman says such shifting conditions could play into the hands of the smaller boats.
“It is what it is out there and this year looks like being a very interesting race for all involved,” said Hickman, who is hopeful of bettering his 13th overall in last year’s race on the Farr 43.
“And you have to enjoy the running under spinnaker, but when the southerlies come, you have got to enjoy that as well.”