Sydney-Hobart contender's $250k dash to starting line

It pays to have friends in high places, just ask the crew aboard Sydney to Hobart behemoth LawConnect.

When a supermaxi yacht of her calibre and 100-ft size breaks her A2 spinnaker, her owner is looking at a two-month turnaround from ordering the thing to having it installed, ready to sail.

On top of that, there's a six-figure bill for the spinnaker, which is crucial for capitalising on the kind of downwind conditions that characterised last year's Sydney-Hobart.

So when LawConnect's A2 malfunctioned as it unfurled during this month's Cabbage Tree Island Race, the last long-form contest before the Sydney-Hobart, most boats would have been ready to panic.

But LawConnect, second across the line in each of the past three Sydney-Hobarts, is not most boats.

Owner Christian Beck was straight on the phone to a buddy at New Zealand-based Doyle Sails, who vowed to cobble together a new sail in quick time.

"Do we get preferential treatment? Yeah, we do," senior crew member Chris Nicholson told AAP.

Crew member Chris Nicholson
Crew member Chris Nicholson keeps a steady hand on the wheel of supermaxi yacht LawConnect.

"Everyone's worked really hard for that to happen."

All it was going to cost was $250,000 - that's some pretty heavy-duty Christmas shopping even for Beck, the entrepreneur behind legal technology company LEAP.

Down from two months to little more than two weeks, the A2 spinnaker will be shipped across the Tasman and installed on December 19.

That will give LawConnect's crew the two days thereafter to familiarise themselves with the new "toy", before enjoying some time off over Christmas.

The dash to the starting line is unfamiliar territory.

"It's a situation that normally doesn't happen to us. We normally don't have last-minute damage like that," said Nicholson, a two-time Australian Olympic sailor.

"We try and look after the asset really well. This was one of those times we had a breakage. Luckily, we've got enough time to deal with it.

"We're just fortunate that we've got a very understanding owner in Christian, who knows the importance of these sails."

Despite the setback, Nicholson is confident the good ship LawConnect will be in tip-top shape for Boxing Day.

She beat the event's reigning line-honours champion Andoo Comanche to the finish line in last week's Big Boat Challenge, and finished second on line honours in the Cabbage Tree Island Race, despite the A2 issue.

"To date, our training period has gone really well," Nicholson said.

"It's always quite an intense period, trying to resurrect the previous crew work that we've had. We've got a couple of new faces.

"We've had times in the past where you can feel everyone's in good form and the boat's going well, and certainly that's how it feels this year."

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