by Katrina Masterson
Phil Molony, the owner of Papillon, originally planned for 2018 to be his final Sydney to Hobart race, however Alec Snyder, an American offshore racer from Newport RI, had other plans and persuaded him to enter the Archambaum 40RC for the 75th edition and let him skipper. This making Snyder one of the youngest American skippers (35) to take part in this race. Snyder did his first Sydney Hobart on Papillon in 2011 and has completed the race six times since then, five on Papillon and once on Passion 4 C.
Snyder is a professional race captain with over 100,000 nautical miles of offshore experiences on his resume, and the Sydney Hobart race is one of the few opportunities he takes for himself to sail. “Working in the sailing industry is what I love, and this race is personal to me. It reminds me why I enjoy what I do all year long,” said Snyder.
One of the biggest hurdles Snyder faces with running Papillon is location, as he spends most of his year working in the U.S. and Caribbean. Snyder’s strong suit is logistics, so for the past year he was able to manage boat work and purchasing new sails via email and phone calls to Australia.
Once he arrived in Sydney mid-December, he went straight to CYCA for a sail test and to prepare for the 24 hour qualifier passage. After the first sail he found the input shaft seal on the saildrive had broke. Within a matter of two days Snyder was able to rebuild the engine with the help of his crew.
The chaos that comes with inherent breakdowns and deadlines is what Snyder refers to as, “the race before the race,” this has also become somewhat of a specialty for him.
Over the past 74 years, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has become an icon of Australia’s summer sport, ranking in public interest with such national events as the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Open tennis and the Boxing Day cricket test. No regular annual yachting event in the world attracts such huge media coverage than does the start on Sydney Harbour.