ROLEX SYDNEY HOBART
The most important ocean regatta in the Southern Hemisphere in its 76th edition will have nearly a hundred boats, an eminently Australian fleet due to entry restrictions associated with the pandemic. Ahead awaits the legendary 628-nautical-mile drive from Sydney to Hobart and a weather forecast that adds uncertainty and excitement to the title fight. The TP52 Ichi Ban is looking for a historic third overall victory after winning two of the last three editions. The output will be held on Sunday, December 26.
Throughout its three-quarters of a century of history, the Rolex Sydney Hobart has built a reputation that transcends the traditional boundaries of the sport of sailing. Around 60,000 sailors and 7,000 ships have participated since its creation in 1945, attracted by the magnitude and unpredictability of a challenge that requires extraordinary gifts of courage, seamanship, endurance and concentration. This ability to test the limits of human capacity sparked the interest of Rolex, which in 2002 added the regatta to its extensive dossier of nautical events, a sport that it has unconditionally supported for more than six decades. Today, the Rolex Sydney Hobart shares title sponsor with two other benchmarks in the exclusive 600-mile racing league: the Rolex Fastnet Race (between England and France) and the Rolex Middle Sea Race (in Malta).
The applicants will start in Sydney Harbor next Sunday, December 26, known as Boxing Day. The Rolex Sydney Hobart is a must for the southern summer and is followed live literally across the country, both through live broadcast on national television and in the bay itself, which is filled with boats of spectators and the public on the coast. to dismiss the participants. Two Australian icons provide an exceptional backdrop for the exit spectacle: the Sydney Opera House and the Harbor Bridge, the imposing steel bridge from which fireworks are launched every New Year’s Eve.
628 miles of legend
After leaving Sydney, the fleet heads south down the coast of New South Wales before crossing the Bass Strait to tackle the eastern coast of Tasmania, the fearsome Bay of Storms and the final 12 nautical mile (22 km) leg. on the often decisive, and sometimes cruel, River Derwent, before ending in Hobart. No matter what time they arrive, there is always an audience waiting to pay tribute to the crews. The fastest ships spend just two days to complete the 628 nautical miles (1,163 kilometers), but the bulk of the fleet spends four to five days at sea, a considerable physical and mental effort.
Rolex Ambassador Sir Ben Ainslie, a four-time Olympic champion and helmsman of the British SailGP team, recalls what he learned competing in the Rolex Sydney Hobart: “The experience allowed me to appreciate the sailing prowess and camaraderie inherent in ocean racing, especially in the case of the amateur crews boats, which take two or three times as long and are not as comfortable as the maxis. An interesting part of these races is the fact that the handicap rules allow that, whatever the size of the boat, everyone has a chance to win. The weather plays an important role, but the smaller boats tend to beat the professionals ”.
Big and small, modern and old
Although it is the fastest supermaxis that often dominate the covers, the Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet is very diverse. This year, the length ranges from 100 feet (30.5 meters) for the largest to 30.2 feet (9.2 meters) for the smallest, Murray Stewart’s Gun Runner. The most modern and advanced boats also coexist with other more modest and old ones: The oldest boat on this occasion is Annie Lawrence’s 36-foot Solveig, launched in 1950 and winner of the regatta in 1954.
Winning the general standings after the time correction and landing the coveted Tattersall Cup guarantees a place in sailing history. Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban achieved it in two of the last three editions, in 2017 and 2019, and this year he returns with the intention of achieving a feat that only two boats have achieved: Freya (winner in 1963, 1964 and 1965) and Love & War (1974, 1978 and 2006). Allen, a former CYCA Commodore, spent decades trying to win the test as a patron. His story is a sign of persistence, of the time it takes to acquire the experience and knowledge necessary to succeed. In 2019, after winning his 30th participation, he commented: “Over the years I have seen incredible boats participate, but it is really the people who make this regatta and ocean regattas what they are”
Who will be the fastest?
The battle for victory in real time will be a priori a pulse between the three participating 100-foot supermaxis: the local Law Connect by Christian Beck (winner as Perpetual Loyal in 2016), the Monegasque Black Jack by Peter Harburg (winner as Alfa Romeo in 2009) and the Hong Kong Shk Scallywag 100 by Seng Huang Lee, two of the three foreign boats in this edition together with the British Maverick 49 by Quentin Stewart. A stern of the fastest awaits an intense battle between the medium-length boats, a breed to which serious aspirants belong such as the R&P 66 Alive by Philip Turner (2018 absolute champion), the R&P 69 Monneypenny by the legendary Sean Langman, the David Griffith’s JV62 Whisper or Jim Cooney’s Volvo 70 Willow. Cooney set the current regatta record of 33 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds in 2017, although then as the owner of the very fast Comanche.
Until 1999 no one had managed to reach Hobart in less than two days, but the winners of the last four editions completed the journey in less than 48 hours. According to the latest weather forecast from the New South Wales Bureau of Meteorology, a series of transitions will determine the rhythm of the fleet on the way to Hobart, adding an extra bit of uncertainty to the always unpredictable Australian route. The latest bets are that small boats could become favorites for the final victory.
The start of the 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart will be held at 1:00 p.m. next Sunday (local time, 3:00 a.m. in mainland Spain). It will be broadcast live through the regatta’s official website, www.rolexsydneyhobart.com
The list of winners for the Rolex Sydney Hobart is Available here