Tassie team toast two-handed Syd-Hob win

Ethan JamesAAP
Sidewinder's Rob Gough (l) and John Saul claimed the two-handed category in the Sydney to Hobart.
Camera IconSidewinder's Rob Gough (l) and John Saul claimed the two-handed category in the Sydney to Hobart. Credit: AAP

At times John Saul and Rob Gough thought their 39-foot yacht Sidewinder was going to break in half.

The Tasmanian pair were on Thursday night crowned line honours winners in the inaugural two-handed division in the Sydney to Hobart race, arriving in four days, seven hours and 12 minutes.

It was the first time the division, in which boats are crewed by just two people, has been part of the 628-nautical-mile bluewater classic.

Seven of the 17 yachts in the category were forced to retire after rough seas battered the fleet early on.

"It was a really interesting sea state," Gough said.

"There were no backs on the waves. You just come out and slam. I thought we were going to break the boat in half."

Gough said the pair, who have been sailing together for some six years, were unable to use autopilot due to the conditions.

They got two or three hours sleep a day catching "little cat naps" in a corner of the boat and also took a beating physically.

"I might have a bit of a rib fracture issue, so I spent a lot of time just doing all of the steering," Gough said.

Sidewinder was almost seven hours ahead of second-placed Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth, with the tail end of racers expected to finish in the New Year.

"We were a bit conservative when it was rough, but then that was smart, which was proven by the guys that couldn't finish," Saul said.

"(There were) plenty of sail changes, plenty of activity, plenty of water across the deck. It wasn't that windy but gee it was rough.

"We've done a lot of cruising together, helping move Rob's family boat around.

"We sort of got a bit of a pattern going on. It did get a bit tense in the racing side of it. But I think we still get on."

The pair said they only had one regret, not bringing beer onboard.

Popular in Europe, the division was scheduled to debut in 2020 before the event was cancelled due to the pandemic.

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