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Successful Finish for Beneteau FIRST 44.7 In Sydney Hobart Race

Marion, SC… Carl Crafoord participated in the 2004 Rolex Sydney to Hobart in a new factory standard Beneteau First 44.7 in the company of some good friends with about one hundred Hobart races between them. Outright handicap winner in the 2003 Rolex Sydney Hobart with the Beneteau 40.7 First National, 27-time Sydney Hobart veteran Michael Spies looked to replicate his success for the anniversary event with his brand new Beneteau 44.7.

They started so close to the starting line they thought they were over, so they returned as the "X" flag was hoisted and restarted. Giving the class a good head start out of Sydney heads, they worked all night gybing on every wind shift and searching for warm water currents moving south with the mast head spinnaker up under a full moon. “It was absolutely fantastic sailing.”

Then the front moved in with a vengeance. They stayed on starboard tack managing about 140 degrees over the bottom with storm gear in 40 -45 knots for the next 32 hours. They snugged the rig down with an inner forestay that they rigged up and nursed the boat as best as they could over the breaking 7-8 meter seas that had built up. At this point the retirements came thick and fast. Half of the fleet pulled out in the first 24 hours from this relentless pounding of cold air.

They finally made landfall at the Frecyinent peninsula (about 70 miles north of Tasman Island) near 0000 hours on the 30th. After 2 days of being seriously damp and not eating too much food they got into the flatter water and changed up headsails to the #1 and back to full main. They put the oven on and cooked everything they could as the breeze slowly abated.

By sun up on the 30th they were looking at Tasman Island (40 miles from the finish). As the breeze kept going down in speed and left to the south-east they were still hard on the wind on port tack on day four with the number one light. They rounded Tasman Island at noon, ghosting along in not much south-east breeze and warm sunshine, drying out themselves and the yacht.

“All credit to Beneteau, the 44.7 really held together well. There were no issues with the hull, deck or rigging. Usually in this race there are a few jobs to be tended to but we went through the entire race
without a hitch.”

By 1300 the south-east sea breeze filled in and they ran all the way home to the finish with the mast head chute in 20 knots of breeze, finishing up the Derwent River at 1812. Just over 100 hours of sailing, with 85 of them hard up wind. “We had a very good result for a production cruiser racer with a 2nd in division C, 9th overall under IRC and 15th over the line from 116 starters.”

For more information on the Beneteau First 44.7 visit www.beneteauusa.com

Beneteau USA, the American division of the world’s largest sailboat manufacturer, builds hundreds of 31-47 foot production sailboats in Marion, SC and imports sailing yachts up to 57 feet in length from its parent company in France. The boats are sold through a network of over 40 dealers all the way from the north in Alaska to the southern tip of Chile.

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