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First Sydney to Hobart for sailor with Whitsundays in his blood

By on December 24th, 2015

He may call Brisbane home, but the Whitsundays runs through the blood of this young sailor.

Having participated in and organised five ‘yacht week’ experiences with Whitsunday Escape for fellow uni students from Brisbane, Stephen Chelli is now getting ready to compete in his first Sydney to Hobart with the sponsorship of Whitsunday Escape.

“Stephen has been a great supporter of Whitsunday Escape for 3 years. He has been instrumental in bringing hundreds of people to the Whitsundays each year, and we wanted to support him to achieve this incredible milestone.” Whitsunday Escape’s Alita de Brincat said.

Rear Commodore of the University of Queensland Sailing Club, Stephen said he was looking forward to what was likely to be the most demanding experience of his 24-year-old life racing on the 40 foot Beneteau racing yacht ‘Mayfair’.

“I’m excited but know over the course of the race I will experience conditions I’ve never witnessed before” Stephen said.

“I have sailed competitively for the past 3 years out of Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, but it’s going to be a real challenge and learning experience to be going up against world class sailors in one of the biggest offshore yacht races in the world.” Stephen said.

The weather forecast is looking a little dicey on the opening day of racing.

Meteorologists are predicting a fast run out of the Heads in Sydney Harbour, followed by what has been described as a ‘shirtfront’ by Mother Nature. A cold and powerful southerly front of 30 to 40 knots is likely to slow the fleet dramatically, just a few hours into the race.

Conditions are expected to ease on day two.

Stephen-Chelli-at-the-helm-on-Mayfair-711x533Stephen is privileged to be working with a very experienced crew with a combined total of almost half a century of Sydney to Hobart experience.

“We are entering the race with well seasoned sailors with a combined total of forty nine Hobart’s completed. It is hard not to be optimistic” Stephen said.

“It’s certainly nothing like the calm, sunny conditions you can expect when bareboating in the Whitsundays!” Stephen said.

Stephen is one of two first-timers on board Mayfair. Whitsunday local Shannon Hart will be by Stephen’s side in his 6th attempt at the big race.

Veteran helmsman Ian “Ox” Davis is leading the team to make this his 24th Sydney to Hobart.

The Sydney to Hobart is a 628-nautical-mile race starting at 1pm on Boxing Day in Sydney. Tune in from 12pm Queensland time to see the race start. If Mayfair performs on track, she should sail into Hobart’s Constitution Dock some time during the night of the 30th December, just in time for New Year’s Eve celebrations.