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Bigger boats fancied for Hobart handicap

AAP logoAAP 25/12/2016 Adrian Warren

Rock star sailors usually grab line honours glory in the Sydney to Hobart, but the amateurs and Dad's Army crews will be looking to trump the well paid pros in this year's handicap battle.

Predicting the likely handicap winner is a notoriously tough task.

The Tattersall's Cup battle for overall supremacy invariably throws up the best and most heartwarming storylines..

Two years ago, the 43-foot Wild Rose skippered by race stalwart Roger Hickman scored a well-received win.

Last year, the 34-foot Quickpoint Azzruro purchased on a credit card by Shane Kearns, looked certain to record an unlikely win until it became becalmed on the Derwent, handing victory to Paul Clitheroe's TP 52 Balance.

Hickman, who died earlier this year, epitomised the spirit that exists among the smaller boats and unpaid sailors.

"A team of really good people is always going to beat a couple of champions and whether we're first, mid-fleet or last, you'll find us laughing in the pub in Hobart," Clitheroe told AAP.

Clitheroe is deprecatory to the point of almost insulting, albeit in a humorous way, when comparing his crew to others, even boats of the same size and type as his, especially Matt Allen's highly fancied handicap chance, Ichi Ban.

"We're a bunch of old amateurs," Clitheroe said.

"(Compared to) Matt's crew, honestly we look like Dad's Army, it's really embarrassing.

"Matt has got the right boat, he's got the right attitude, he's a great guy, he's got a terrific crew."

No boat has won overall honours in back-to-back years since Freya in 1963-64-65.

Clitheroe said it was highly unlikely his boat would end that run and Balance would have her work cut out just beating the eight other TP 52s, especially Allen's boat.

This year Allen and Clitheroe believe the smaller boats won't get a look in, with both tipping the winner to come from the 50 to 80 foot range.

Clitheroe likes the look of Rupert Henry's JV62 Chinese Whisper, which finished fifth overall last year and the three Volvo 70s, Black Jack, Giacomo and Maserati.

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