RIDING SOUTH: Wild Rose moves rapidly towards Hobart in the last edition of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Sunshine Coast sailors Andrew and Samantha Scott will be aboard and are intent on defending handicap honours.
RIDING SOUTH: Wild Rose moves rapidly towards Hobart in the last edition of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Sunshine Coast sailors Andrew and Samantha Scott will be aboard and are intent on defending handicap honours. Rolexcarlo Borlenghi

Scotts are prepared for a Sydney to Hobart test

LITTLE has changed on board 2014 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race handicap winner Wild Rose and that may be the key to them achieving a back-to-back win.

Alexandra Headland sailor and Wild Rose second helm Andrew Scott says the team has been following its usual program.

"Our preparation started back in April this year with the Sail Port Stephens regatta. Since then we have done every possible offshore race," she said.

Andrew's daughter Samantha, 19, remains on the team. Since joining the crew last year she has become hooked on ocean racing.

Born and raised on the Coast, Samantha moved to Sydney this year and has

worked full-time on the boat's preparation and will again be on the mid-bow for this year's race.

The race strategy has been agreed with the team focusing on their division.

"We need to win our division because those are the boats that we have some control over as they will be sailing in the same wind pattern as us," Andrew said.

"You can't win the overall unless you win your division to start, so that is our first focus. Then you have to hope the wind gods play their part and the tidal gods and the current gods."

Once across the start line the early thinking strategy is to head offshore but much will depend on the East Australian Current and what the wind does in the first few hours.

"Everybody has a say on the strategy. All of us are always encouraged to speak up. Hicko (owner Roger Hickman) does the main strategy and our navigator, Jennifer Wells, plays her part as well," Andrew said.

Then there is the forecast of a brisk southerly front greeting the fleet as they head down the New South Wales coast which is just what Wild Rose needs to get into a winning position.

Andrew expects that, like last year, these conditions will force the big boats to slow down and take longer to complete the race. It will also give boats like Wild Rose, which revel in head wind conditions, the chance to punch through the steep sea and gain miles on the often cautious and new big boats.

"The talk is there will be a southerly in the early part of the race. The forecast will come through about midnight on the first night. That won't be all bad for us," he said. "We had a good run with the current last year; we were in it for a long time compared to a lot of other boats and that helped us. The early part of the race also helped us as it kept the big boats on the water for a long time.

Hickman's step-sister, Caloundra's Lisa Hickman, is staying ashore as she is pregnant. Roger, a 38-race veteran, has chosen another of his regular crew to replace Lisa. The race starts today at 1pm.

COAST SAILORS HOBART BOUND: John Bankart (Samurai Jack), Piers Dudin (Clipper Ventures 10), Stacey Jackson (Black Jack), Graeme Eaton (Maxi Ragamuffin), Andrew Scott, Samantha Scott (Wild Rose), Lisa Blair (Climate Action Now), Casey Smith (Comanche), (Quikpoint Azzuro is an ex-Mooloolaba boat)



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