It seems the two-man crew of this 41-foot boat tacking effortlessly under the Sydney Harbour Bridge in light winds know instinctively what the other is about to do.
It needs to be like that because in a week’s time, on Boxing Day, the nautical demands of the Sydney Hobart blue-water yacht race will probably be rather more demanding.
Their matching white shirts are embroidered with the words ‘Sydney-Hobart 2020 Two-handed Division’. But with the race cancelled last year due to COVID-19, this year will be the first time for the two-handed vessels. Of the total fleet of 95 boats expected to cross the start line on Sydney Harbour at 1pm there will be 18 vessels with a crew of just two on board.
Another first is that owner of the appropriately named Min River (in Fujian province) is Jiang Lin, the first Chinese skipper to enter the race. The Chinese characters on the main sail mean smooth sailing.
It’s not bad going given that she has only been sailing for 10 years. “When I first came to Australia I loved the blue sky – you can dry the washing in two hours.” she said.
“I thought to myself, ‘I need a new hobby’. My grandparents had boats, traditional Chinese working boats. I grew up with boats on the Min River. I saw the boats on the harbour and thought I want to learn.
“I have done the race before as crew but not as skipper. We will have our Christmas on Christmas Eve, we can have a bit of a party and a day to recover but the boat is almost ready, we just need to get food on board.”
Jean-Charles “JC” Ledun is co-skipper (they met sailing) and a builder and carpenter when he isn’t on the water. With a heavy French accent, he explains: “Technically on a two-handed race we are two skippers. We both take decisions together because we have to anticipate a lot and take all the decisions together.
“We don’t have [crew] watch rotation. Every time we are a little bit tired we try to get some sleep when the weather is good enough. I am making the tea, making the food and also making the navigation. I think her chances are pretty good, we just want to perform well and do our best.”