The 73rd Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starts on the 26 December – 628 Nautical Miles of endeavour, drive and determination. One of the world’s most famous and revered yacht races will see equipment and crews put to the test
For 72 years, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has been an icon of Australia’s summer sport, ranking in public interest with such national events as the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Open tennis and the Boxing Day cricket test. No regular annual yachting event in the world attracts such huge media coverage than the start on Sydney Harbour. On 26 December, Australia is in a festive mood. Just when the traditional international test cricket match in Melbourne breaks for lunch, the starting signal for the Rolex Sydney Hobart is fired, with an estimated one million Australians watching live from one of Sydney Harbour’s many vantage points, on television, or from the water itself.
The Rolex Sydney Hobart, organized by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), has run every year since its inaugural race in 1945. Its rich history, distinctive date (Boxing Day) and reputation as one of the world’s toughest ocean races has contributed to its status as a genuine icon in the sport.
Rolex has been a partner of the CYCA and title sponsor of the race since 2002. Along with the northern hemisphere’s Rolex Fastnet Race, the Rolex Sydney Hobart lies at the core of the brand’s yachting portfolio.
Fast Fact: 5,916 yachts have started the 72 editions of the race. 4,895 have finished the race.
In the modern era of the race, one yacht – the 100-ft Maxi Wild Oats XI – has dominated line honours, finishing the fastest in eight of the last 12 races and twice breaking the race record.
In recent years contending with more fierce competition, Wild Oats XI has also faced an element of misfortune. Since claiming line honours ahead of the American Maxi Comanche in 2014, Wild Oats XI has failed to finish the race. A torn mainsail ended her hopes in 2015 and last year keel damage forced her abandonment nearly 24 hours into the race, leaving the door open for Perpetual LOYAL to take the honors.
Wild Oats XI is back this year to take the record once more.
Fast Fact: The race record has been broken 12 times in the race’s history, most recently in 2016 by Anthony Bell’s Perpetual LOYAL. Her time of 1 day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds was almost five hours faster than the 2012 record and may prove very difficult to beat this year.
Finishing first is not the most sought-after prize at the Rolex Sydney Hobart. It plays second to claiming the famous Tattersall’s Cup and the Rolex timepiece awarded to the overall winner on handicap – win this race outright and you instantly become part of the sailing legends group.
Fast Fact: In the history of the race only six yachts have done “the double”, achieving the momentous feat of winning line honours and the Tattersall’s Cup in the same year. They are Rani (1945), American Eagle (1972), Kialoa II (1977), New Zealand (1980), Sovereign (1987), Wild Oats XI (2005, 2012).
The handicap system is a democratic one, ensuring the target of victory is theoretically open to any boat in the fleet. The weather conditions play their part as the crews need to manage the race tactically and navigationally.
The 2016 winner was the 70-ft Giacomo, owned by Jim Delegat. She will not return to defend her title in 2017, a feat which has proved an almost impossible task. The last yacht to win back-to-back races was Freya over fifty years ago.
Fast Fact: The first winner of the race was the 30-ft Rani, sailed by British Captain John Illingworth, one of the race’s founding-fathers. Rani finished in six days, 14 hours, 22 minutes, arriving on the evening of New Year’s Day 1946.
Internationally the race’s appeal is vast with yachts frequently representing countries from Asia, Europe and the United States offering significant media coverage across the globe.
Fast Fact: In 2016, New Zealand yacht Giacomo became the first overseas winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart since Roger Sturgeon’s Rosebud from the United States in 2007.
The race has always held a magnetic appeal, attracting not only sailors of all backgrounds but politicians, business leaders and stars from other sports.
Boxing Day is also Family Day in the JANUS et Cie Sydney Race Village. Watch the live screening of the start and enjoy the many family activities on offer.
The Hobart Race Village is festive before the yachts even start to finish, with live music, food and drink stalls, interactive information, game screens and many activities to keep all ages happy. In a prime position to view the New Year’s Eve fireworks, the Hobart Race Village provides the only outdoor festival on New Years Eve in Hobart.
To find out more about the Race Villages in both Sydney and Hobart, click here.
For entries: http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/the-yachts/
The 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will start on Tuesday 26 December at 13:00 (AEDT).