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Festival of Sails 2017

Rolex Sydney Hobart- Big Boats predicted to avoid gale

by Richard Gladwell on 26 Dec 2013
Dockside at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) © Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi http://www.carloborlenghi.net

The supermaxis contesting the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart race are expected to dodge the strong winds predicted for the latter stages of the race.

The latest projections and course routing using a polar (performance data) from a top supermaxi, shows the big boats will have winds mainly from a northerly and easterly direction, with winds peaking at a 22kt average - meaning a 30kt top end.

Strangely with such a favourable wind direction and strength, the race record does not seem to be under threat, with the boats expected to take just over two days, according to two of the wind models used to develop the optimum route.

For those further down the fleet, the picture is not so leisurely with the 50fters to be hit with a southerly change on the evening of December 28 around 8.00pm.

Then the wind is expected to switch within an hour from a northerly direction of 23kts average to a SW direction of 26kts - both are average wind strengths and the gusts are expected to be around 35kts or more initially, increasing to over 30kts the following day (Gusts expected to be in excess of 40kts) before beginning to ease in the early hours of the following day.


A TP52 polar used by Predictwind for weather routing indicates that this size of boat will finish in about 2 days and 14hrs – about 12 hours after the supermaxis.

For the start of the race, winds are expected to be from a SE direction are around 15kts average (20kts plus in gusts). But they swing north and lighten for the following day.

The weather routing recommends the boats follow a more easterly course, with one model recommending a big hook out to sea. From experience the competitors do not stray too far from the direct line from the direct route to Hobart, for reasons of sailing extra distance, being caught on the wrong side of a change, and separating from their competitors. More radical tactics sometimes come into play in the latter stages of the race as trailing boats are prepared to take more of a gamble to make a break through on the leaders.

Sail-World will be updating regularly with the latest weather projections and routing throughout the race from Predictwind. Over the past few days, weather projections have changed quite markedly, and this is expected to continue after the race gets underway.

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