Sydney to Hobart family tradition lives on


The journey up the Derwent River is a special time for any Sydney to Hobart yachtsmen but for those aboard Wollongong yacht St Jude, the ride was extra sweet.

This year's race was 18-year-old Jonathan Liddle's debut Bluewater Classic, alongside captain and father Peter, as well as uncle [and sailing master] Andrew.

The youngest crewman in the field was still pinching himself after St Jude arrived at Constitution Dock just after 10am yesterday.

"I felt a whole range of things," Jonathan said.

"As we were heading up the Derwent River I sort of started to calm down but at the same time I started to freak because you just realise 'wow I've done it'.

"It was a pretty amazing for my first Hobart. It really had everything."

The 24th boat out of Sydney Heads, St Jude spent most of the first two days sailing off the wind with the spinnaker up.

Jonathan said the real test began when the fleet encountered a roaring south-westerly front off the east coast of Tasmania.

"I did the the return trip last year which was pretty rough, so I was kind of prepared for the worst," he said.

"I didn't get anything that caught me by surprise but it was a different racing; we were more under the pump and working a lot harder the whole time.

"When the gale force winds first hit off Tasmania, we were sitting there in about 40 knots of breeze and the boat getting pushed all over the place trying to get the sails changed."

Despite the hard work, Jonathan said there were still a few moments for reflection.

"It's hard to explain. It's a Sydney to Hobart so you're focused on what your doing but at times you click back to reality and realise you're halfway down the Australian coast on your way to Hobart."

Captain and father Peter was also over the moon for his boy, who more than held his own in the conditions.

"To go all the way down the eastern coast of Tasmania and round Tasman Island and up the Derwent took two days," Peter said.

"The wind was 25-30 knots and we were having gusts of 40 knots but the crew held their composure and worked as a team and Jonathan just excelled.

"For me it's very special that I was able to do that with my son and my brother as well."

As for the future, one of the youngest Sydney to Hobart finishers in history has lofty ambitions including a potential 50 starts and a boat of his own.

"There aren't many people who've done 50 Hobarts or so and now I've got that opportunity because I've started so young," Jonathan said.

"I'd like to get on the helm of a boat."

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