Sydney-Hobart Report: 64-year-old Rookie Heads Down Under

As part of a documentary he is producing about the infamous 1998 Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, Dennis Perkins is preparing to compete in the 2006 Sydney-Hobart. The 628-nautical mile race, which starts December 26, will be Perkins' first distance race.


2006 Sydney-Hobart Blog: December 11"OLD SALT FACING AUSTRALIA CHALLENGE"It isn't every day you open the morning paper to find a picture of yourself with a headline like that. But there I was, staring back at myself in black and white print, undeniably tagged by a story in the New Haven Register as an "old salt." I guess I can hardly argue, having recently celebrated my 64th birthday and attended my 40th Naval Academy reunion. Plebe year and marlinspike seamanship seems like a long time ago, and now here I am, packing my bags for the Sydney-Hobart Race.Perhaps even more remarkable, just last Sunday I was decked out in a tuxedo (with Musto foul weather gear for effect) headed to the Guilford Yacht Club for my wedding. Now, a week later, I'm leaving my lovely bride, Susan O'Malley, for "the race of my life," as this morning's paper says. How in the world did I get here?By way of some explanation I am the CEO of a firm dedicated to helping organizations faced with demanding environments characterized by adversity, uncertainty, and rapid change. My colleagues and I have worked for over 25 years as advisors to senior leaders in organizations located throughout the world. A unique feature of our approach is a concept we call "The Edge," by which we draw on dramatic stories of adventure and survival to illustrate the skills needed to succeed in challenging situations.In 2000, we published "Leading at the Edge", a book that highlights the extraordinary saga of Ernest Shackleton's 1914 Antarctic expedition. As part of our effort to understand the accomplishments of the expedition, we traveled to Antarctica and retraced much of Shackleton's voyage. We now use video footage of our trip, along with photographs taken by the expedition photographer, to tell the story of the expedition.A few years ago, we asked ourselves,"What's the next Shackleton story?" And we believe that we have found our answer in the 1998 Sydney-Hobart Race. While much of what has been written about the race focuses on tragedy and loss, we were impressed by the saga of Ed Psaltis and the crew of AFR Midnight Rambler-- the overall winners of the race who were awarded the Tattersalls Trophy.We have spent the past two years researching the race and preparing to tell this story. We have filmed interviews of all the AFR Midnight Rambler crew, and some others, including Kristy McAlister, one of the helicopter rescuers who was cited for her bravery. The more we learned about the race, the more fascinated we became. Fascinated enough, in fact, that we wanted to experience the Sydney-Hobart Race just as we had Antarctica.A connection with one of the AFR Midnight Rambler's crew, Chris Rockell, led us to Peter Goldsworthy of Getaway Sailing. Chris and Peter had sailed together in a small skiff in New Zealand some 30 years ago. One thing led to another and so in an hour I will be leaving for my "honeymoon cruise" on a Volvo 60. Ed Smith, my friend, sailing partner, and an expert videographer, will be joining me for the adventure-the "race of my life."I'd like to say more, but I have a sense that my new bride would like to say goodbye to this old salt. On to Australia!Dennis N. T. PerkinsNew Haven, Conn.