Tuesday, 29 December 2009

RSHYR: Ingvall and Witt’s new plans after Rolex Sydney Hobart

YuuZoo making good time across Storm Bay towards the Derwent River on her way to the finish line. Image copyright ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo.

by Bruce Montgomery and Di Pearson

Having returned to ocean racing after a four-year break with a seventh across the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race finish line today on his super maxi YuuZoo, Finnish-born champion sailor Ludde Ingvall is on a mission.

On his arrival in Hobart, Ingvall, now an Australian resident, announced he would be teaming up with his YuuZoo co-skipper David Witt, one of Australia’s most experienced skiff sailors and ocean racers.

The pair plans to put Australia back on the world sailing charts, including an assault on the America’s Cup.

Ingvall’s accomplishments include line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart in 2000 and 2004, on two different versions of Nicorette, the Rolex Fastnet Race in 1995, world championships in 1997 and 1998 and the transatlantic monohull record in 1997.

The Swedish Sailing Association named go-getting Ingvall Yachtsman of the Year in 1995 and 2000.

He took a break from sailing in 2005 to devote more time to his family and to establish an equestrian centre on the NSW central coast.

Satisfied with what he has done, Ingvall is back to sailing and to inject his obvious passion for the sport into young Australians who do not enjoy the access to sailing that he has.
Ingvall and Witt, a former 18ft skiff champion and skipper of Volvo-class yachts in previous Rolex Sydney Hobart races, tied up in Hobart this afternoon, ecstatic about their race this time, and enthused about their new venture.

“It was more fun this time than in 2004. I just enjoyed it. Having been away, I found that I enjoy it still. It’s hard to do things like this if you don’t have a passion for it,” Ingvall stated.

“David and I have decided that we would like to work together. David is a great yachtsman.”

The twosome’s aim is to increase the scope of Ingvall’s Australian Boat Racing Team; to campaign this and other boats at major regattas, including next years’ Rolex Sydney Hobart, but the Holy Grail is Australia’s re-emergence as a challenger for the Americas Cup.

“Our plans are to do a lot of things for Australian yachting over the next three to five years. This boat is just of the boats we intend to use in that planning,” he said.

“The lack of presence of Australia at the America’s Cup is one of the things that has concerned me for the last four years. I can’t understand why a country that changed the history of yachting in the America’s Cup can’t put together a team,” said Ingvall.

“I went to Valencia and realised that there were about 27 of my crew on various boats and I realised there were Australians everywhere. I just think Australia needs to be represented and maybe I can bring something to the table.

“I have done this for a long time, and even though I may not do all the races myself, I just want to pass on all the knowledge I have. We have the passion. It is about fulfilling the dreams of Australian yachtsmen and women.

Witt welcomed the prospects: “Ludde and I go back a while. We sailed together in 1997 in Europe on the original Nicorette.

“In this new relationship, I’m the one that does a lot more of the mechanics and putting the people together.

“I’m not as old as Ludde, so I think the age difference and the experience helps to put a really good boat team together.”

Back to the Rolex Sydney Hobart, organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, a 26 year-old Tasmanian girl, Danielle McKay, was chosen as the best performer on YuuZoo, so was given the honour of steering the yacht over the finish line, assisted by gun helmsman Witt.

“She is an excellent sailor; very committed and helpful; they breed them well down here,” Ingvall said.

“It was a real pleasure to have her onboard,” said the Finnish skipper, confessing: “We are three miles from the finish line and I have just got out of my Gore-Tex pyjamas, turned off my computer games and I’m now ready to come on deck!”

On stepping ashore in Hobart after finishing, Ingvall said, “Gee it is great to be back, thanks to the entire team for welcoming me back with open arms.

Ingvall told of his best moment at the helm: “Surfing Bass Strait was amazing. We reached a top speed of 26.6 knots and averages over 24 knots - it was FANTASTIC – I got soaked to the bone as I didn't have time to put the wet weather gear on when it hit!”

A passionate sailor with a penchant for inspiring younger people and opening their minds to the possibilities in life, Ingvall said: “The whole idea of what we do know, is to tell the adventure just like it is, from all sides, warts and all.

“One big brother/sisterhood living the dream, having fun as if there was no tomorrow....”

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

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