The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is one of the world’s great offshore races. The annual nautical challenge – across 628 nautical miles from Sydney Harbour to Hobart, Tasmania – starts for the 68th uninterrupted year on 26 December, 2012. The race has taken on legendary status worldwide, thanks largely to the often turbulent and challenging conditions posed by the infamous passage across the Bass Strait.
First run in 1945, this classic has been sponsored by Rolex since 2002.
Last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart provided several moments of high drama including an enthralling cat-and-mouse battle for line honours between five-time winner and race record-holder Wild Oats XI and her fellow 30.48-metre/100-foot opponent, Investec Loyal. Heading into the last stretch in the Derwent River, in Tasmania, the two boats were tantalizingly close together, with Investec Loyal eventually winning by a mere three minutes and eight seconds, the fourth-closest finish in the event’s rich history.’
Wild Oats XI is determined to reclaim the line honours title she first won in 2005. That first triumph saw owner Bob Oatley and his crew, skippered by Mark Richards, claim a historic treble – line honours, race record and the Tattersall’s Cup which is awarded to the event’s overall winner. While Wild Oats XI has repeated her line honours success a further four times, bettering the race record of one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds and claiming another handicap win has proved more elusive.
Last year the proud recipient of the Tattersall’s Cup was Stephen Ainsworth’s 19.3m/63-ft Loki. Ainsworth is eager to defend his title, but history is against him. No yacht has reclaimed its title the following year since 1965 when Freya triumphed for an extraordinary third year in succession.
The 2011 race attracted a fleet of 88 crews and there is every chance that the number will be surpassed in 2012.
The event enjoys a huge international reputation and the entry list currently welcomes four non-Australian entries – the Volvo 60 Ambersail (LTU), comprising the first-ever Lithuanian crew, the 16.5m/54-ft Bengal 7 (JPN), the 12.80m/42-ft Reichel/Pugh-designed Rikki (NZL) and Geoff Hill’s 27.41m/90-ft Genuine Risk (HKG), line honours winner at this year’s Rolex China Sea Race. A healthy local presence is guaranteed with yachts representing all Australian states.
The Rolex Sydney Hobart is organized by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) in conjunction with the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (RYCT). The event is a sporting institution drawing keen interest around the world. With the warning signal for the start of the race sounding at 13:00 (local time) on 26 December, in the middle of the Australian summer and end-of-year festivities, the race start is the single most viewed sailing event on the globe as hundreds of thousands of people watch from the festive shores in Sydney, live on television and over the internet.
Rolex Sydney Hobart website
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5:19 PM Wed 10 Oct 2012GMT
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