Syd Fischer is one of the most credentialled ocean racers in Australia. But the Sydneysider is not too proud to admit that gale force winds and high seas in the 628 nautical race that starts on Sunday are challenges he can do without.
"It's going to be a bit wild, and there's a few fronts coming through, so we are in for a belting," the 83-year-old veteran of 41 starts in the great blue water classic says.
With such experience and triumphs behind him - including line honour wins in 1988 and 1990 and handicap victory in 1992 - surely the battle is one he will relish?
"Not at my age, no … we will wear it," Fischer says with a smile that exudes a "been there done that" outlook to the dramas the open sea can offer.
There have even been times when he has regretted starting a Sydney to Hobart, such as, "When in the middle of a storm and you think, 'Christ what am I bloody doing here?' But you weather the storm, the sun comes out and everything is rosy."
Fischer has nothing to prove after a sailing career that includes wins in the 1971 world championship One Ton Cup on Stormy Petrel and the 1971 Fastnet Race, and five America's Cup challenges, the last a record he shares with Sir Thomas Lipton.
Despite his many successes, he has experienced many more hours of discomfort and fear in the ocean, and knows the dangers should never be underestimated, or faced unless well prepared.
He has plenty of big-wave experience in much smaller boats, too - thanks to his days as a sweep in eight-metre surf boats with the North Steyne and Bilgola surf clubs.
"You would have to go out in 30-foot [nine metre] waves," Fischer says. "You had to go out through the bloody things and then get in. It was pretty rough and wild times."
He recalls his first Sydney to Hobart as clearly as his 41st. It was in 1962, when he owned and sailed the 11m Malohi that is still moored at Mosman. Most frightening was the moment they neared the Hippolyte Rocks near Cape Raoul. ''We were in a bad fog. We couldn't see anything," recalls Fisher, whose TP52 Ragamuffin - in its 46th year of ocean racing - is a handicap contender this year.
On board, there was conjecture as to how close to the Hippolytes they were - one crewman said they were near the towering cluster of pole-like rocks; another said they had passed them. Then, suddenly, through the thick fog and right in front of their bow the sinister rocks emerged.
"We had the spinnaker up, it was light air," Fischer says. "We spun the boat around, and had bloody sea gulls in and out of the rigging. It was wild.
"We got away. We didn't hit it. But that was an exercise that I have never forgotten."
Victory might not have been theirs to celebrate, but certainly that first Sydney to Hobart planted a seed. Fischer returned to the race over and over. "It was an adventure," he explains. "You've got to like adventures. It's about challenge. The Sydney to Hobart was the pinnacle of the ocean racing season. You just did it."
It was also not uncommon either that the beginning of a new year would come before Malohi reached Hobart. "We used to finish when they played Old Lang Syne in the yacht club in Tasmania. Or we were still trying to finish.''
How times - and race speeds - have changed, especially thanks to modern technology.
In the early years, Fischer says, "You didn't have the instruments you've got now. You didn't have GPS. You didn't have 'sat' phones and the gadgets we've got today. The compass was on the floor of the cockpit. It was an Air Force compass. There was nothing flash in those days, but you got there anyway."
Fischer clearly believes crews should not be overly dependent on modern technology.
"There has to be a limit of what technology you can have," he says. "I have always said canting keels - in the wrong hands - can kill people. There is 500 tonnes of pressure. It can blow the side out of a boat when the hydraulic ram breaks."
Fischer predicts plenty of breakages this year. Hence, he won't cast his tips for the handicap or line honours winners.
"You wouldn't have a clue," he says. "Some boats will get knocked out. Some will lose their masts. It will be a bit of a mess, I think. Sailing is very much in the lap of the Gods."
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