With just 11 days until entries for the 69th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race close, 84 entries have been received by the organising authority, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
Wild Oats XI may even break her own record this year given the right conditions.
Recent entries include Midnight Rambler, the Ker 40 owned by Ed Psaltis, Bob Thomas and Michael Bencsik, which was the 70th entry received, reigning race record holder Wild Oats XI, Bob Oatley’s ever-evolving super maxi, and Spirit of Mateship, the Volvo 60 formerly raced as Southern Excellence.
Since launching the latest Midnight Rambler in 2011, Psaltis, Thomas and Bencsik, who won the storm ravaged 1998 Sydney Hobart race with a Hick 35, AFR Midnight Rambler, have scored various podium finishes.
The trio was second overall in this year’s Gosford Lord Howe Island Yacht Race; second in IRC Division 2 in last year’s Hobart; third in the CYCA’s 2012-2013 Blue Water Pointscore Series and second in the Cape Byron Series (ORCi component of the BWPS). With three races complete, Midnight Rambler is seventh in the CYCA’s 2013-2014 BWPS.
'We’re really pleased with how the boat’s been performing recently,' Michael Bencsik said. 'We’ve upgraded the sail wardrobe to lift the light air performance,' he said.
'It’s a good all-round boat. Her ideal conditions are 12-15 knots. At 20 knots, she’s able to hang onto the larger boats (42 to 50 footers) in the fleet. We’ll be benchmarking our capacity against the newest Ker 46 when it’s launched (Tony Kirby’s latest Patrice), as well as Celestial, Quest and Victoire,' Bencsik added.
Between them, Midnight Rambler’s owners and their crew have 120 Hobart races under their belts. They are chasing a second overall win in the annual blue water classic.
Spirit of Mateship will be crewed by ten wounded, injured, or ill existing and former Australian Defence Force personnel, known as ‘Brave Mates’, to raise money for the Mates4Mates charity. Mates4Mates was established to provide support to wounded, injured and ill members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and their families.
The nominated Mates will participate in a series of training activities to ensure all are ready for what awaits come December 26.
Led by skipper Russell McCarte, the Brave Mates will be stretched physically and psychologically to develop both individual and team skills such as fortitude, strength, resilience and resourcefulness to name a few. By experiencing and conquering any negative aspects, the individuals and teammates can overcome adversity.
Since recording her second historic treble of line honours, overall win and setting a new race record last year, Wild Oats XI has undergone further modifications that include having a radical, retractable, hydrofoil-type wing fitted in a bid to make her even faster when sailing downwind.
The fitting of the wing is the latest in a string of modifications aimed at keeping the eight-year-old super maxi competitive against more recent designs.
These changes have led to Richards and crew affectionately referring to the yacht as ‘the Swiss Army Knife’, due to the number of appendages she now boasts: the new wing, a retractable forward rudder, two retractable daggerboards, the canting keel, and the conventional rudder at the stern.
The modifications were put to the test for the first time under racing conditions at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August and the consensus was that they improved the yacht’s performance.
International entries have risen to 20 with the addition of two more Clipper boats – the 68 footers which competed in the last four editions of the Clipper Round the World Race and are now used primarily as training vessels.
Piers Dudin will skipper CV5, the former Gold Coast Australia which outstandingly won the 2011-2012 Clipper race under the direction of Aussie Richard Hewson; while Jim Dobie will skipper CV10, which as Derry-Londonderry, finished eighth overall in 2011-2012.
Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnson returns for his second Rolex Sydney Hobart to navigate one of the Clipper 68s. This will be the first time the Clipper yachts have entered the Rolex Sydney Hobart and the first time Sir Robin has raced against the other Clipper teams.
Other entrants registered for the 69th edition of the race include Peter Harburg’s Volvo 70 Black Jack (formerly Telefonica), Tam Faragher’s Ker 50 Kerumba, Darryl Hodgkinson’s updated Victoire and Colin Woods’ Pretty Fly III, both Cookson 50s.
So far, Australian entries have been received from NSW, Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.
Originally expecting a fleet of around 80 yachts, the CYCA is now anticipating at least 90 yachts will be on the start line for the 628 nautical mile race which starts at 1.00pm AEDT on Boxing Day.
Entries for the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2013 close on Friday 1 November 2013 at 1700hrs AEDT.
The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and the Australia Network throughout the Asia Pacific Region, and webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7.
Official race website: