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TIME OUT ON THE HIGH SEAS: COME SAIL IN THE SYDNEY TO HOBART

IN-DEPTH NEWS FEATURE:
Telcoinabox Merit Crew 2009
The Crew of the Telcoinabox Merit in 2009 | © Leo Rodriguez

Live the Dream, Sail the High Seas and Share Your Passion…

The ocean roars as waves pound the stern, salt spray kisses your cheeks and your nostrils are filled with the fresh air of the open sea. You stand at the wheel of a 60 foot yacht that is competing in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, and you can think of nothing but the sheer excitment of sailing. Your thoughts of work, family and your other concerns drift away on the ocean current, and you focus on being a part of a team, and making it to that finish line.

The start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race as a competitor is mind-blowing; the harbour is alive with activity, so much so that it is comparable to watching an AFL match with hundreds of players, on a much bigger playing field. It is truly a spectacular sight to behold and a very sociable occasion. You are both nervous and excited the hour before you leave, and whilst there, your senses are extended to an all time high, you cannot visually take in everything at once, but you try. The noise is astounding, as everyone cheers and helicopters fly overhead.

Then the race begins, and you have to get down to business. You are concentrating on the boat and its needs so that you and your crew can get farther ahead. It’s about camaraderie and pulling together, to make for smooth sailing, whilst you enjoy the challenges and become at one with the ocean.

The finish line, when it arrives, is emotional, you have battled the elements and sailed for days in big swells and rolling oceans, waves have crashed into your boat, and you have pulled down and raised the sails more time than you can remember. You are physically and mentally exhausted, and in need of a hot shower, but you’re feeling invigorated because you have made it, along with the rest of the crew and the boat, to the finish of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. A race that is iconic in the Australian and International sporting arena. People are cheering, and you are in awe. The Sydney to Hobart is a hard race, and you have completed it, now you can just relax and enjoy the festivities.

Competing in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race for some, is a dream, but this aspiration can become reality with the crew of ‘Telcoinabox Merit’, who finished the 2009 Sydney to Hobart with 16th place Line Honours, after rescuing the crew of ‘Georgia’.

Telcoinabox Merit hails from Queensland and is a 60 foot Volvo round-the-world racing yacht, which has sailed under the names of ‘News Corp’, ‘Line 7’, and ‘Indec Merit’. Today, the vessel is owned by Leo Rodriguez whose passion for sailing is shared with close friend Michael Cocs, other professional commercial sailors, and anyone else who seeks adventure on the high seas and is willing to join them on the Sydney to Hobart.

It’s about living the dream, taming the ocean swell and sharing your enthusiasm, especially if you thrive in a team environment and enjoy being at one with Mother Nature. And, if you fancy yourself as a bit of a sailor you can join Leo and Michael aboard the yacht in the Whitsundays late this year and sail to Sydney to compete in the 2010 Sydney to Hobart.

Michael Cocs, a professional commercial seaman, grew up sailing and confesses that he is passionate about yacht racing, so much so that he wanted to compete in the Sydney to Hobart for 7-8 years before he had the chance.

“Sailing is my life, and I have always wanted to ocean-race because I have such a competitive nature,” Michael said. “So when my friend Leo approached me and asked if I would like to join his crew in the 2009 Sydney to Hobart, I jumped at the chance.”

The 2009 Sydney to Hobart yacht race was Michael’s second, he first competed in 1997 out of a sailing club, and professes that this year’s event was much more enjoyable, because everyone really worked well together and this made it so much fun.  Michael feels that on a personal level the Sydney to Hobart yacht race makes him become a different person.

“I become focused and forget about my work and commitments, and there is always something to do with an excellent group of people,” Michael said.

Whereas on a team level, Michael feels the yacht race is about working together and having a team spirit, regardless of your experience.

As Michael said, “You don’t need to have any knowledge of boating, in fact, most people who joined us this year had little experience; you do however need genuine enthusiasm and want to be a part of a team. This year we had four paying passengers on board, an older gentleman, a young lady and two New Zealanders. You don’t have to be super fit to come on board, but you do have to be an able bodied person, as you are a part of the crew. You will be expected to help pull sails down and put them up, as well as help in the galley with food preparation and serving. This is not a holiday, this is an experience that you will tell your grand-children about; you’re getting the ‘real deal’, you really compete.”

To become a crew member on the Telcoinabox Merit costs between $12,000-$15,000, and you will need to bring warm clothing and your toiletries, as well as sea boots, sailing gloves, thermals, a ski mask, a beanie and sea sickness tablets.

“Some people recover from sea sickness faster than others and I always recommend to people to focus on the horizon,” Michael said. “I personally have only been sea sick once, but you always need tablets when it gets rough, even the best of us loose our lunch from time-to-time.”

The fee you pay to become a crew member in the Sydney to Hobart helps to cover the entrance charge into the race, which is approximately $50,000, as well as the wet weather gear and life jacket that you are supplied with when you come on board. And, it also pays for your meals and orientation sail from the Whitsundays to Sydney before you race.

“The orientation sail is a really nice experience because the waters are calmer, and you get to stop at Southport and refresh. Plus, you are able to familiarise yourself with the boat, and get acquainted with the rest of the crew members so that you feel comfortable in the boat,” Michael said.

As a passenger on board the Telcoinabox Merit you can expect to gain valuable experience and develop confidence in yourself, but best of all you will have an adrenalin filled adventure to share with your friends and family, and an event that you will recall for the rest of your life.

For more information on joining Leo and Michael aboard the Telcoinabox Merit for the next or subsequent Sydney to Hobart Yacht Races, please visit www.adventuresail.com.au. [If this link is not operational, please visit the link to another team under the video].

Telcoinabox Merit Competing in the 2008 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race | By OzRacer

Star Shell Sailing also offer similar adventures, they can be found at http://www.starshellsailing.com.au/index.html.

Please Note: This article was originally written by Tricia L. Snell and published in Lifestyle Investor Magazine Vol. 1.1 | Issue July/August 2009. This article has been re-printed with the permission of the Lifestyle Education Group.

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