Sydney to Hobart father, son chasing history
When Simon Kurts contested his first Sydney to Hobart with his ocean racing father Peter, he wondered what all the fuss was about.
The Bronte owner of one of the most famous - and beautiful - timber yachts in Australia, arrived in Tasmania perplexed.
"There was no wind. I said, 'what's all the fuss about?'," Kurts, 58, said of his first Sydney to Hobart back in 1981 on Once More Dear Friends.
"It was a very, very easy race. We were becalmed in Bass Strait.
"I was still impressed. But it was a very slow race."
A year later Kurts got a taste of a "real Hobart" with multiple southerly busters, wild winds and mountainous seas smashing the fleet and making the going physical and mentally demanding.
These more traditional conditions are what have earned the Sydney to Hobart it's reputation as one of the most challenging races in the world.
"I did the next one and we got the crap beaten out of us," Kurts said.
"It was pretty windy from the south. We went through a couple of fronts. It was pretty awful."
While his father Peter, a famed six-time Admiral's Cup campaigner and 30-time Sydney to Hobart veteran, died in 2005 aged 80, Kurts has carried on the tradition of sailing with family.
This year son Phillip, 28, will join him aboard Love & War in an attempt to have the oregon and maple timber yawl win the most of coveted pieces of silverware in world ocean racing - the Tattersalls Cup - for an unprecedented fourth time.
"I like sailing with him. It feels like we are carrying on tradition,'' Kurts said.
The second of five yachts owned and raced by the Kurts family, the Sparkman & Stephens 47 footer Love & War is 41 years old with a distinguished history after winning overall in 1974 and 1978 under the guidance of Peter Kurts and in 2006 under respected navigator Lindsay May, who will be aboard again this year.
Kurts has "brushed the cobwebs" off the old beauty which last raced south in 2012 so he, Peter and a crew of old mates can be part of the 75th anniversary fleet.
Kurts says the 2019 race south will be his last Sydney to Hobart and hopefully his first win as he was absent when the yacht won in 2006 after he lent it May and friends.
Only one other yacht has been the overall winner of the Sydney to Hobart three times - the Halvorsen brothers' Freya which won three in a row in 1963, 1964 and 1964.
And for his last outing, Kurts wants it as tough as it gets without casing mayhem in the fleet.
"We want it hard in the nose, tough, that's what suits the boat but perhaps not the people," Kurts laughed.