The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was first held in 1945 and partnered by Rolex since 2002, the 628-nautical mile (1,163 kilometre) offshore race is revered as one of sailing’s most gruelling challenges.
This year marks the 77th edition of the event organized by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia with the support of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
An impressive international fleet has registered for the race which commences, as is tradition, on 26 December from Sydney Harbour.
The journey south to Hobart, Tasmania, takes competitors on a long passage down the New South Wales coast and then across the eastern most edge of the exposed and infamous Bass Strait.
This year Northerly winds are expected for Monday’s start, according to the forecast presented at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, organisers of the 628 nautical mile race, with the light east-to-north-easterly winds forecast for Monday’s 1pm start expected freshen later that afternoon.
Those winds are expected to continue into Tuesday, with a trough forecast on Wednesday and winds shifting to south-south easterly and light rain showers developing.
The forecast augurs well for the big boats in the 111-strong fleet, especially the four maxi yachts – Andoo Comanche, Black Jack, Hamilton Island Wild Oats and LawConnect.
Stan Honey has navigated on all four maxis and this year, his eighth, will be on Hamilton Island Wild Oats. He agrees the long-range forecast is made for a big boat start.
“At this point it looks like it could be a big boat race,” Honey said. “It looks like the big boats will get through most of the race in the north-easterly.”
For the mid-sized boats, like the TP52 Patrice, the forecast indicates they will have to sail through at least two weather patterns before reaching the finish in Hobart.