Sunshine Coast's Neil Carroll will race in the Kioni Robotic Automation crew at the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Thursday.
Sunshine Coast's Neil Carroll will race in the Kioni Robotic Automation crew at the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Thursday.

The beers, the boat and the pact: Crew’s unlikely return

SAILING: A pact made over several hard earned beers in a bar 25 years ago will unfold on Boxing Day.

The core members of 1994 Sydney to Hobart crew Turkey Shoot have "got the band back together" ahead of the 75th annual race on Thursday.

Neil Carroll, a member of the Sunshine Coast Radio Sailing Club is part of the Kioni Robotic Automation crew, a yacht purposely rebuilt for the race.

Kioni is a Beneteau First 47.7 now owned by the Paul Jenkins-led Kioni Syndicate.

She has previously contested eight Sydney to Hobarts, the most recent in 2012 when she finished fifth under Nick Athineos.

Back in 1994 and once the beers had subsided, the crew was left to question "what would we look like in 25 years time?" - would the comeback even be possible?

"We were just a bunch of late-30 something guys, we'd finished the race and started on the beers," Carroll said.

Sunshine Coast's Neil Carroll will race in the Kioni Robotic Automation crew at the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Thursday.
Sunshine Coast's Neil Carroll will race in the Kioni Robotic Automation crew at the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Thursday.

"It's usually a pretty good party, and after you've been at sea for four days being beaten up, it creates a certain euphoria, especially with sea legs.

"So you have a couple and the frivolity starts.

"Then we all said let's make sure we're all here in 25 years time."

Carroll laughed recalling the story admitting how unlikely it sounded at the time.

"It was so off the cuff, but here we are," he said.

Fresh after competing for the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in a race in Newcastle, Carroll is quietly confident ahead of the biggest race of its kind.

"It's all about waiting for the moment to be one with the boat, but that race we answered the helm under pressure," he said.

"The Beneteau was pretty beat-up when the owners got her, full of six-inch barnacles but they completely rebuilt her."

Carroll, who arrived in Sydney on Saturday, will attempt to remain relaxed and at ease today and on Christmas Day before the big race.

Only when it gets under way will he truly be at ease.

"It's important to be prepared, that's what today is all about," Carroll said minutes before hopping out into the harbour.

"You have to be comfortable on your feet and make sure your personal equipment is right.

"I'll try to stay relaxed and put the race out of my head.

"Then on Thursday morning I'll flick the switch.

"But once you finally leave the dock, then, and only then is it solely about the race.

"Then it's the big one."

Now the question remains, where will the crew be for the centenary race?


SEVERE STORM WARNING: Large hail, damaging winds expected

SEVERE STORM WARNING: Large hail, damaging winds expected

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a warning for Northern Rivers

Latest instalment in Mullum Madness coming to silver screen

Premium Content Latest instalment in Mullum Madness coming to silver screen

Film delves into some of the creative ‘firsts’ in the alternative scene of the...

‘Ms Maguire’: Gladys attacked by reporter

‘Ms Maguire’: Gladys attacked by reporter

‘Ms Maguire’: Gladys Berejiklian grilled by reporters over shredding scandal