Ollie Hartas, the intrepid skipper of Team Southern Cross & ILVE, tells us about living with ILVE on the high seas.
Hi Ollie! How did your involvement with ILVE come about?
I started racing the 18’ skiff unsponsored and running it off my own savings account. After a season-and-a-half, Suzanne Stevens from Winning Appliances successfully got ILVE interested in sponsoring my skiff and we’ve been working together ever since Christmas 2013-2014.
Can you tell us about the kind of boats that you sail on?
The ILVE skiff is called an 18’ skiff and it is the absolute last word in extreme monohull sailing. Back in the 1800s they were workboats that Aussie harbour workers would race on during their lunch break. It grew to be the premier racing spectacle of the country, with races being run every weekend and spectators lining the shores of the entire Harbour with multiple ferries taking out keen punters to bet on the racing.
That sounds like a rather fancy day out.
These boats are the Formula 1 of sailing, and there is a spectator ferry that follows the racing each week with live commentary. The race is also filmed and broadcast live online.
What happens during a race? Is it super-competitive?
When you get to the top level of any sport, it gets super- competitive. And when the top level of a sport involves big, strong Aussie blokes with egos and muscles bulging, things can get very, VERY competitive!
Are you used to the level of competitiveness now?
I started steering these boats when I was 19 years old and have been racing since, making me the youngest continuing skipper in the class by quite a long way. I am also the smallest of the sailors. This means that during my first season, a lot of the sailors sized me up and thought I was no threat to them… but in one of my first races, I shocked the whole fleet by getting a sixth place!
In the end, everybody in the fleet knows how difficult it is to sail these boats, let alone run one, so there is definitely a level of respect for anyone who stays with the class longer than two seasons, and I’ve steered the 18’ skiff for 3 seasons!
Is everyone pretty friendly with one another when they aren’t racing?
When you’re rigging the boats, everyone is everyone else’s mate and we’re borrowing tools and parts from each other and having a great time – but as soon as we hit the water, it’s game on and we are all in race mode.
What’s your favourite meal?
I have a number of favourite meals but I can narrow it down a little to pasta, chicken thigh on the BBQ, sushi, and anything with bacon!
Do you have a favourite ILVE product?
I love our oven because every time Mum bakes a cake or cooks up some fabulous dish, it always comes out perfect and delicious!
For Team Southern Cross updates and results, visit:
For more information about ILVE, visit: www.ilve.com.au