It wasn’t all plain sailing. After their yacht was written off in a storm and a replacement was found unfit to race, the Tribal Warrior team missed the official entry deadline. It looked as though the years-long dream of “Redfern to Hobart” would remain just that. Then a couple of weeks out from the race, Cruising Yacht Club Australia made the Southern Excellence II available. On December 26, the boat and her undeterred nine-member crew, ranging in age from 22 to 63, made their way out of Sydney Heads, not as a race entrant, but as a backup marine radio vessel.
More problems were to come on the water. CEO of the Tribal Warrior Association, Shane Phillips, told 2UE’s Second Career program: “In Bass Strait we met probably every possible challenge that you could have, all in the space of maybe 12 to 13 hours.” Critically, broken keel bolts resulted in the vessel taking in water, and the crew bailing it back out for 30 hours. “Amazingly we got over the finish line!” said Phillips.
Not being an official race entrant, the crew was uncertain as to whether the Southern Excellence II would actually be allowed to cross the line. Cross it they did – having completed the course of one of the most grueling yacht races in the world. The crew’s handiwork under pressure earned them the name “bush mechanics on the water” from NITV, who covered their epic journey.
The team was welcomed in style at Constitution Dock at 8.10pm on December 29. “It was amazing when we got down to Hobart, the way the crowd embraced us. It was really warming,” said Phillips.
Congratulations to crew members Athol Boney, Paul Bramble, Leslie Davison, Isaiah Dawe, David Nash, Shane Phillips, Assen (China) Timbery, Martin Walker, and the two skippers Wayne Jones and Southern Excellence II owner Andrew Wenham.
The Tribal Warrior intends to be back to race the Sydney to Hobart in 2017.