Published by the CYCA // 18th Dec 2023
Collectively, Bruce and his son Drew Taylor have spent the best part of a lifetime sailing in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Sailing on Bruce Taylor’s Reichel/Pugh 40, Chutzpah, this year’s race will be their 30th together from a total of 72 starts between them. It will mark a record for a father and son combination in the race that is organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney.
“This year will be Drew’s 30th and all of his Hobarts have been with me,” Bruce Taylor, 73, confirmed yesterday.
While Drew Taylor will get to celebrate his 30th start in the 628 nautical mile, it will be the 42nd for Bruce, who sailed in 12 Hobarts before Drew took to the event. Bruce is immensely proud of their father-son bond as Hobart crew mates that began in 1978 when Drew was 16 after having proven his ability on “a few delivery trips.” At the time, the Sydney Hobart did not have the current regulation that required sailors in the race to be at least 18 years old.
Bruce has entered various iterations of Chutzpah, claiming more division wins than any other. The overall win eludes him, but he has come close, with a best result of second overall in 2014, a little less than 39 minutes behind Roger Hickman’s race winner, Wild Rose. Taylor also finished second in 1990, but on a different Chutzpah.
When Drew made his Sydney Hobart debut, Chutzpah was a 34-foot “rugged little boat” that had a crew of seven or eight.
“Drew was used to sailing small boats early on and had been sailing with us inshore,” Bruce said. “When he was 15, he also did a delivery sail from Melbourne to Sydney on Challenge II [which in 1983 became the first Victorian boat to win the Sydney Hobart overall].
“The crew on Chutzpah really accepted him. They were in their 20s then and now all have a heap of Hobarts between them,” Bruce said of his crew who have mostly sailed 35 and more Hobarts each.
With Drew living with his family in Hong Kong, their time together as father-son is certainly about quality over quantity. The rush, intensity and camaraderie they share on the open seas in a Sydney Hobart makes up for what time they may not share as a family during the year.
Even better, with the race starting on Boxing Day, they get to share a full Christmas lunch together with Drew and his family returning Australia a couple of days before the race.
“It’s certainly quality time,” says Bruce. “We always have Christmas at home, then when the dishes need to be done, Drew and I jump on a plane and go to Sydney!”
Asked about their bond, Bruce says: “It’s very special. It’s a great pleasure sailing with him. We have the odd disagreement, but he is better sailor than me now, than what I was. He is a great helmsman, a great driver.”
Naturally, when Bruce visits Drew in Hong Kong, the roles are reversed. Bruce crews with Drew who sails competitively with his own series of boats named Ambush.
“Then it’s him giving the orders. It’s me who gets told what to do,” Bruce says.
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