Sydney to Hobart competitors from landlocked Hungary battle language barrier in first ocean race
Roni Ormandlaki will skipper the first Hungarian team to compete in the Sydney to Hobart. (ABC News: Amelia Tan)
More than 80 teams will set off from Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day for this year’s Sydney to Hobart yacht race and as always, there’s a handful of international competitors.
- Many of the crew are more used to sailing on lakes, with some never having sailed in an ocean race
- The sailors have learned some key sailing terms in English to smooth communications
- Skipper Roni Ormandlaki says his crew has made “good progress during training”
Among them for the first time is an entry from landlocked Hungary.
The team is overcoming a language barrier, and a relative lack of experience in ocean racing, to compete.
Sydney can be a little sleepy at this time of year, but the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia is an exception to that rule.
Roni Ormandlaki is busy trying to get a 52-foot yacht, M3 Team Hungary, ready for this year’s race.
He’s skippering the first Hungarian team to compete.
‘We don’t have many sailors’
The 52-foot M3 Team Hungary yacht will set sail for Hobart with more than 80 other teams. (ABC News: Amelia Tan)
“I always wanted to be the first doing this, but it’s not easy because Hungary is a landlocked country. We don’t have many sailors,” Ormandlaki said.
“Money is more issue than here as well, so it was quite difficult to find the funding.
“I think it’s a good thing to be here as a little small country.”
Adam Uhvari is one of six Hungarians helping crew the yacht.
Mr Uhvari told AM that he’s never participated in a race like this before.
“This is going to be a first one on the seas and on the ocean. We’re going to see how it goes,” he said.
Like Uhvari, the other Hungarians in the team are more used to sailing on lakes back home, most of which are frozen right now.
But Ormandlaki is confident they’ll have everyone trained up in time.
Team Hungary is overcoming a language barrier and a relative lack of experience in ocean racing to compete. (ABC News: Amelia Tan)
“They are all sailors, but they don’t have experience with this big boat and this high-performance racing boat. This is what they have to pick up,” he said.
“We have good progress during training, so it will be all good.”
Apart from a lack of experience in ocean sailing, there’s also a language barrier to overcome.
Australian sailing master Brett Perry (left) goes through the extensive safety checklist in preparation for the race. (ABC News: Amelia Tan)
Australian Brett Perry is the sailing master on board the M3.
“What we’ve done is we’ve got a board up there and we’ve got specific sailing terms that we have got and we have said we would like you to know these terms,” he said.
“When you hear these terms we want you to know what they mean, for instance ‘grind’ or ‘on the rail’. You know ‘on the rail’ means you get your legs over and you sit here.”
‘Sailing is 20 per cent luck’
And for anything that they can’t prepare for, there’s always sailor’s superstition.
It’s Perry’s 11th year and apart from half a dozen Hungarians, he’ll also have a whale tooth with him for luck.
“I found that in the sub-Antarctic on a trip I did many years ago, it was just on the beach and it’s quite beautiful and it’s just something that doesn’t mean much to anyone else, but to me it’s cool,” he said.
“I’ve lost it quite a few times but it just keeps showing up.”
Despite the team’s quirks, skipper Ormandlaki says they have a shot at winning.
“Sailing is 20 per cent luck, so our boat is well prepared, by the start the crew will be well prepared,” he said.
“If we’re smart, we can win — the boat is capable of it.”
Paul Billingham, the Commodore of race host the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, says while most eyes will be on the super maxis, the egalitarian spirit of the event is alive and well.
“I suspect around three quarters of the boats will be wholly amateur crewed,” he said.
“The front end of the fleet, yes you’ve got a mixture of some global, very well known names.
“All the way through to perhaps some of the 52 footers might have a smattering of professionals.
“But the story is there, amateur can and do win this race.”
The race begins at 1:00pm AEDT on Boxing Day.