“Having less boats certainly improves our odds,” Beck said. “But is a shame to not have people like Wild Oats in the race.
“They’re great people, with a great boat, and you get a lot of credibility if you actually beat them in a race.”
The Oatley family say they are “zero” chance to put in a late entry for Wild Oats XI, citing the impact of the pandemic on their employees as the reason for pulling out of the race.
Wild Oats XI was built in 2005 and has raced in each edition since.
“A gold medal is a gold medal and a Sydney to Hobart win is a Sydney to Hobart win,” Beck said, comparing his yacht to Bradbury’s famous Winter Olympic gold.
Eager to claim underdog status, Beck said Black Jack would be the boat to beat.
“It was always gonna be our best chance [to win this year] because we’ve been on a trajectory,” he said. “We were 24th three years ago, fourth and then second so we’re getting better all the time.
“But, I think if you were putting a bet on, I’d put a bet on them before us.”
For last year’s overall winner, Ichi Ban skipper Matt Allen, the race has hardly changed.
The majority of this year’s Tattersall Cup favourites have been unaffected by COVID-19, with 2018’s winner Alive looking to be Allen’s biggest competitor once again.
“They’ve been spending a lot of time getting their crew right and their gear right and they’ve probably closed in on us a bit in the sense that they’re kind of try and replicate us as much as they can,” he said. “There is some copying and pasting going on.”
Allen will be aiming for his third overall honours this year after wins in 2017 and 2019 and believes he would be able to create his own “little piece of history within the race” by taking out the honour in the COVID-19-affected race this year.
Only two other boats have managed to win the overall honours three times in the race’s history. The last back-to-back win was Freya, in 1963, 1964 and 1965.
“I don’t know whether anyone is ever gonna do a triple again but just to get back-to-back would be an incredible thing,” Allen said. “Obviously, it’s been a difficult winter break for everybody, people haven’t done as much sailing, as in previous years. There’s a lot of pressure on us.
“But it’s the dream that we all have.”
Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.