by Rob Kothe
For thousands of Australia's offshore sailors Christmas Day is really just the day before Boxing Day and for every year since 1945 that has been the day that the Sydney to Hobart yacht race starts.
2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
This morning (It's Christmas Day already in Sydney) will be family time for many sailors, although some of the Sail-World team will be Sydney Harbour today with practicing crews and this afternoon the flights coming into Sydney will have lots of sailing bags on the carousels. Late this afternoon for many of the boats there will be dockside crew briefings then a quiet dinner, before the final weather briefing, the media scrums and the dockside family farewells
Come tomorrow, December 26th 2012, (Boxing Day) 1pm local time (UTC+11 hours) - 77 boats will face the starter in two rows just off Sydney Harbour's Shark Island for the 68th annual race.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2011 Line Honours Winner INVESTEC LOYAL
Last year line honours was claimed by Investec Loyal in a time of two days, six hours, 14 minutes and 18 seconds after taking the lead from race favourite and defending champion Wild Oats XI after striking light winds just outside Storm Bay. losing 20 nautical miles. The two boats engaged in a tacking duel up the Derwent River with Investec Loyal stretching its lead slightly to cross the line just three minutes and twelve seconds ahead of Wild Oats XI.
LOKI, Stephen Ainsworth - handicap winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2011
Stephen Ainsworth's Reichel Pugh 63 Loki was declared the race winner with a corrected time of three days, 22 minutes and 34.32 seconds.
Now the stage is set for 2012. In theory it's going to be very much a big boat race, but the Weather Gods could change their minds at any time.
Here is the 2012 fleet list in detail along with Sail-World's boat notes, which are still being updated by the skippers. Some 20 changes were made by skippers overnight and many more will be made before the race starts.
We would like to wish you, our readers, a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and great New Year.
It's nearly 8am in Kiwi Land (it's just approaching 6am here in Sydney), a front has just come through along with some light rain in Sydney and it's going to be unusually cold. It's still Christmas Eve in lots of places: almost 8pm in Europe, 7pm in the UK, 2pm on the US East Coast and 11am in the West, but regardless...
We will be working through, of course, with the Sydney Hobart HF radio traffic on loud speaker 24x7 (you can listen or hear just the skeds) - so if you have a story or report, or comment please drop us a line.
Thanks for your help and input in 2012, we're here to help sailing and help those who wish to help themselves. Many thanks to those who have contributed to our coverage of the World Sailing scene in 2012.
We look forward to a great 2013.
Right now in Sydney the coffee is good and families will soon be stirring, then Christmas lunch preparations will start. After lunch a few more glasses of wine and a little sleep... would you be anywhere else?
See you on the water...