But first you have to get there...
Wild Oats XI hits a big wave at at full speed, while crossing Bass Strait during her record-breaking run in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race
To the drumbeat of media helicopters a fleet of 95 yachts are expected to face the starter, in Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day December 26th, for the 69th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
In the 2013 fleet there will be five 100-foot super maxis, three 80-footers, 15 70-footers and a total of 22 overseas boats who will contest this 628 nautical mile blue water classic.
They will all have a winner baton tucked in their sail bags, variously keen to take line honours, overall honours and even the race record from Bob Oatley’s Reichel Pugh 100 Wild Oats XI, the six-time winner who won her second triple crown last year.
100, RAGAMUFFIN LOYAL, Sail No: SYD 100, Owner: Syd Fischer, Design: Elliott 100, LOA (m): 30.5, State: NSW - 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
Previous line honours winners Ragamuffin 100, who took line hours last year as Investec Loyal and Grant Wharington's, Hart 100, Wild Thing (with paper work in order) are returning, while the rebuilt Rambler 100, Anthony Bell's Perpetual Loyal should issue a strong challenge, She was considered the fastest racing super maxi in the world until she capsized in the 2011 Fastnet Race after her keel snapped off.
Wild Oats XI skipper Richards said two major modifications have made the 2012 line and handicap honours champion and race record holder even quicker heading into this year’s race, Boxing Day.
But new technology can be risky, the new lightweight mast suffered a 'catastrophic failure' on its first sea trial and is being reinforced.
The other change is the addition of yet another appendage, beyond her canting keel, she has twin rudders, a canard, and now a horizontal trim tab, she is the first super maxi with a telescoping aerofoil. It might make her faster but it certainly will make her more vulnerable to sunfish and shark collision damage.
‘We're not going to die wondering, that's for sure,' Richards said. Agreed Richo!!
- Beau Geste - November 21, 2013
Back in the pack, the real race for most of the fleet, the IRC handicap race sees more new comers Karl Kwok's Botin 80, a downwind flier Beau Geste will be sailed across the ditch from Auckland in the weeks before the race.
This is after the first 80 footer Beau Geste, a Farr design developed a life threatening crack in the Auckland to Noumea race, caused it was decided by a under spec'd deck.
Gavin Brady says the new Cookson built boat, will leave Auckland as late as the 19th, but we won’t be surprised to see her heading out the week before.
The same plan was hatched by Maximus in 2007, but she did not make it to the Hobart start line, her radical keel did not last the distance.
Rolex Sydney to Hobart 2013 Lisa Allen launches the new Ichi Ban 60 - 26/11/2013
Lisa Allen cracked the champagne over Matt Allen's Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban at the launch function and the boat has been seen on the harbour a few times this week and is going to have full crew from the weekend. We have some early pix and line drawings courtesy of Shaun Carkeek.
Lots more news in the weeks ahead… stay with us. (Our race coverage will be going out in 61 languages this year).