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Hollywood hopes Sydney-Hobart luck changes

NZN 17/12/2016 Adrian Warren

Sydney to Hobart stalwart Ray Hollywood Roberts hopes dropping several hundred kilos of weight from his boat will finally deliver him a coveted handicap win.

Roberts has won every other major Australian east coast offshore event, on handicap, but third is his best placing in the Sydney to Hobart.

He has led on handicap only to be thwarted by different factors, including unfavourable wind shifts and responding to a flare signal.

He took a few years away from the race and campaigned successfully in Asia but after returning, boat damage forced him him to retire in 2014 and a broken rudder slowed the boat's progress last year.

"I had a break from it because it's a gruelling race and I've had my disappointments, " Roberts told AAP.

"I've had probably half a dozen hard luck stories, so sometimes that wears you out and you need a little break to come back fresh again.

"Often I say 'sod it' and then after six months I can't let go, I've got to come back, so I'll be hanging in there till I get a good result."

Roberts is optimistic some modifications to his Farr 55 boat Hollywood Boulevard will improve her performance this year.

"We've extended the keel fin by 400 millimetres, reduced the overall weight by around 600 kilos," Roberts said.

"So I'm hoping that the boat will be faster off the wind and when we're reaching, to stay with the new TP52 boats that are very light

"I've reduced the overall weight of the boat so hopefully that will be my secret weapon and if the luck of the gods are with me, I'll come out with a good result."

Rogers has also added some experience to his crew in race regular Michael Spies and 2004 Ukrainian Olympic 49er silver medallist Rodian Luka.

"Rodian s going to bring that extra little bit of extra skill to the team," Roberts said.

"We've got a 50-times Sydney Hobart veteran in Michael Spies. I've done a lot of sailing with him and we've had a lot of wins together.

'We've got a mixture of youth and small boat sailors and big boat sailors, which I think is a good combination, because you need the young guys, to maintain the strength towards the end of the race.

"If you've got too many old guys, they wear out."

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