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There was never any doubt among the Jones family that they would trail much of the Sydney-Hobart fleet. But elder daughter Catherine, skipper of their yacht David Hannah, admitted: “We hadn’t quite anticipated we would be as last as we were.”

Early yesterday they finished after seven days and nine hours “racing” – almost triple the time it took Morning Glory to break the record. As a home-made flag flying from David Hannah’s mast put it: “Keeping up with the Joneses has never been easier.”

In a year when other more glamorous yachts broke and retired, the family cruiser from Port Adelaide sailed on without mishap and won Catherine, 25, a trophy as the first woman skipper over the line.

For the professional navigator in the British merchant navy, it was the first long race as skipper and few of the family had done much racing before. They survived by sailing a conservative race.

“Whenever it got too strong, we backed off and adopted cruising mode,” said Catherine.

A fast run before the wind had them up to seven knots, compared with Morning Glory’s 25.1. They were not keen on hanging out over the deck on a windward beat either. “We don’t really have a ‘let’s-get-up-on-the-rails-andget-soaked-to-death attitude’.”

The breezes that aided Morning Glory passed them by. While the maxi whipped across Storm Bay and up the Derwent River to the finish in a stiff westerly, David Hannah took 10 hours to sail the final 40 miles.

Nevertheless, the Joneses were greeted with cheers yesterday from other sailors in Constitution Dock as many of them, having raced and celebrated, set off to return to the mainland.

Catherine’s sister, Diana, 23, spent only eight hours ashore before hopping on another yacht for a long-planned return trip.

On the Joneses’ yacht, mother Vicki was navigator with father Josh, Diana, youngest sister Hilary, 21, and Hilary’s boyfriend Lucas Cree as crew.

In a start notable for its confusion and drama, David Hannah hung back from the line to be the last over of those who started correctly. “We didn’t want to get in the thick of it,” said Catherine. “We would have hated to be the yacht that hit one of the maxis.

“So, we hung back out of good seamanship.”

When the southerly buster cut through front-runners on Boxing Day night, Catherine suddenly realised only two of those aboard knew how to take down a spinnaker in a race. They survived with a soaking.

Cruising is something the Joneses are more used to, having spent four years at sea on a world circumnavigation before settling in Adelaide. It was the untimely end to that trip in 1987 that taught them what a life and death struggle was.

Their boat Dorothy Ann began taking water one night in the Gulf of Mexico, and they lost a four-hour attempt to keep it afloat. After 18 hours in a life raft they drifted into shipping lanes between Acapulco and the Panama Canal. Spotted by a Korean freighter, they were picked up by the passenger liner Canberra.

The captain of the Canberra, David Hannah, became a family friend and the Joneses’ next yacht earned his name. “It was a debt of honour for my dad,” Catherine said.

Taken from The Sydney Morning Herald (Saturday January 4, 1997) and written by ANDREW DARBY on location in Hobart.