For the 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, a fleet of 79 yachts has been declared. The eclectic mix ranges in size from 10.3 metres (33.8 feet) to 30.48 metres (100-feet), and includes three international entries, nine former race winners, the defending overall champion, yachts representing each and every Australian state and the Australian Capital Territory, and four yachts to have tasted line honours success.
Four 100-foot Maxi yachts – Ragamuffin-Loyal, Wild Oats XI, Wild Thing and Lahana – look likely to form a breakaway group at the head of the competition, with old adversaries preparing to lock horns. Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI has won line honours five times and is the current race record-holder, having set the standard of one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds in 2005. Conditions in the intervening years have proved frustrating, denying a serious tilt at this benchmark time.
Last year, Investec Loyal beat Wild Oats XI to the finish line by a mere three minutes, eight seconds; racing this year as Ragamuffin-Loyal, under the leadership of the legendary Syd Fischer, she once again poses the biggest threat to Wild Oats. Fischer is set to compete in the race for a staggering 44th time and his crew will benefit from the shrewdness and expertise of one of Australia’s great yachtsmen, twice a line honours winner (in 1988 and 1990), and an overall race winner in 1992.
The Tattersall’s Cup, awarded to the overall race winner, remains the coveted prize, and all 80 boats start with a theoretical chance of victory. The conditions, teamwork, skill and an element of luck will all help determine the eventual result. Since Rolex began its sponsorship of the event in 2002, all but one overall race winner have come from the 40-65ft range, where the majority of the fleet lies. Defending champion Loki, on the back of another successful season, is seeking to become the first boat to defend the overall title since 1965.
The race start, as is tradition, will take place on 26 December at 13:00 local time. As Australia relaxes during the summer festive season, hundreds of thousands of spectators will witness the race start from the shore and on the waters of Sydney Harbour or on television and the internet. Anticipation of the first finishers in Hobart will build around the world as the latest edition of this iconic race unfolds.
Rolex Sydney Hobart website
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4:30 PM Mon 10 Dec 2012GMT
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