Please select your home edition
Anyport 2019 Karver - Leaderboard

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Southerly still the big question

by Jim Gale on 24 Dec 2016
Panel (Anthony Bell, Mark Richards, David Witt, Ludde Ingvall and Sir Michael Hintze) at the press conference after the CYCA’s Weather Briefing this morning Rolex/Daniel Forster
Skippers and navigators of the 89 yachts competing in the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race have received their Christmas Eve weather briefing from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia this morning.
BOM’s Jane Golding has told them the forecasts produced by the various models that meteorologists use, have been pretty consistent in recent days, confirming a fast start on Sydney Harbour in a brisk north-easterly, and that the breeze will strengthen throughout the afternoon as the boats run down the NSW coast.

It translates to spinnaker sailing in a 20 to 25 knot nor-easter on day one for everyone. This is when the super-maxis will streak away from the boats chasing them. As expected, a big front currently lying in the Southern Ocean, south of Western Australia, will reach the southern NSW coast around midnight, turning the winds to the south. The southerly will slow the super maxis first, and then make its way back through the fleet during the night.

How long the southerly lasts, and how strong it is, will go a long way to determining which type of boat will win overall, and whether the record is broken. Most likely it will be around 15-25 knots, lighter than was expected a few days ago, and great news for the sailors after last year’s battering. One model is saying it could be even lighter.

A second front is also expected to move through Bass Strait on Tuesday, affecting the leaders, and there could well be some areas of very soft wind lying in wait when the super maxis get there. By Tuesday afternoon, winds will start shifting around to the north again, and the spinnakers will get another outing.

The softening forecast would seem to favour the slimmer Wild Oats XI and CQS over the broader, more powerful upwind Perpetual LOYAL and Scallywag in the race for line honours. “We liked the forecast from a couple of days ago actually,” Perpetual LOYAL skipper, Anthony Bell said this morning. “We were excited by a big southerly, but it looks like we won’t get as much of that.

“We’re going to have to make some calls that could put us back, but could also put us further in contact with the other super maxis. Going down the Tasman coast is a lottery, light running suits the skinny boats, so we’ll have to become more tactical. On the plus side, the theoretical weather and the real weather are often distant cousins. I don’t think I’ve ever, even two days out, received what the forecast said it was going to be,” Bell says.

As you would expect, Mark Richards, the cagey skipper of Wild Oats XI, is not counting any chickens yet. “It’s never fun for anyone to get a flogging, so the latest forecast is good for everyone. All these boats (super maxis) are going to have their moments, so it’s just a matter of who does a good job in their not-so-good moments.”

And then there is CQS, Ludde Ingvall’s radical 100 footer. The softer forecast will suit his slimmer boat, the dark horse of this race. As Richards points out, he doesn’t really know what to expect or how fast this boat will turn out to be. Neither does her skipper, Ingvall, who says, “We have a boat with lots of toys in the toy box and we have no idea how to use them yet.”

Outright boat speed is always critical in the dash for line honours, but sail into a hole and even the fastest boat stops dead in the water. This will be a tactical race, and managing the transition Monday evening from brisk northerly to we-are-not-so-sure how brisk southerly – being in the right place with the right sails up – could be a game changer.

“The first change will be interesting. Whoever does a good job there, will get a good jump,” says Scallywag skipper David Witt.

But all this is crystal balling. Whatever the weather eventually throws up, Witt pretty much summed up the Hobart race for all 89 skippers and crew: “Start at one o’clock and go south. It is what it is.”

The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia.
Jeanneau AUS 2019 OCT SF3300 FOOTERVaikobi 2019AUG - Footer 3North Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - Footer

Related Articles

18ft Skiff Supercup on Sydney Harbour
Eight former JJ Giltinan champions and other top 'guest' skippers race The Australian 18 Footers League conducted the second 'Supercup' on Sydney harbour this evening when they invited eight former JJ Giltinan (world) champions as well as several other top names from the world of 18ft Skiff Racing to become guest skippers.
Posted today at 10:45 am
Scott to take on world's best at Finn Gold Cup
It will be the first world championships he's competed in since taking gold at the Rio Olympics Olympic champion Giles Scott says he's got one eye on the 2019 Finn world title and the other on Tokyo 2020 as he returns to action next week.
Posted today at 10:24 am
2019 Finn Gold Cup opens in Melbourne
More than 60 Finn sailors from 22 nations have gathered in Melbourne The 2019 Finn Gold Cup was officially opened by John Bertrand AO at Friday evening's opening ceremony at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club in Melbourne, Australia.
Posted today at 9:17 am
Part 2 of mini-series on MM597 superyacht build
Second part of mini series on Malcolm McKeon MM597 super yacht build is released In the second installment, Paul MacDonald explains how Southern Spars is the only mast builder in the world that can provide a fully integrated package to projects such as the MM597 by using its proprietary software MemBrain.
Posted today at 9:14 am
The Top 10 Biggest Sailing Stories of 2019: Part 1
Quite a few surprises and interlopers in this elite group of stories... Following on from last year's round-up of the Top 10 big stories in the sailing world, Mark Jardine shares the most-read stories in 2019 from and
Posted today at 8:00 am
Australia's Finn sailors aiming for Tokyo 2020
World's best in Melbourne for Pre-Tokyo show down at 2019 Finn Gold Cup and Tokyo Oceania Qualifier The world's best Olympic Finn sailors have arrived in Melbourne for the 2019 Finn Gold Cup, the world championships of the Olympic Finn Class, with racing starting on Port Phillip on Monday (16-21 December 2019).
Posted today at 5:27 am
How to be debris free in Rolex Sydney Hobart
Can you be debris free when you go yacht racing? Can you be debris free when you go yacht racing? Well of course you can, however the aim of this article to is give you ideas on how to reduce your debris when you go racing or even cruising.
Posted today at 4:36 am
RSHYR - Hobart Village set to entertain
Hobart Village has something for everyone! The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Hobart Village, proudly supported by TasPorts and located on Constitution Dock, has something for everyone!
Posted today at 2:59 am
2019 Chandler Macleod Moth Worlds - Preview panel
Sailors primed and ready for a big week of racing With the stage set for the start of the 2019 Chandler Macleod Moth Worlds today, sailors are now primed and ready for a big week of racing that will see a new Moth World Champion crowned at the Mounts Bay Sailing Club in Perth.
Posted today at 12:54 am
The Future of Sailing webinars: Volunteering
Revealing Reality give a fascinating insight into what motivates volunteers In this fifth webinar, Revealing Reality give a fascinating insight into what motivates volunteers to help at your sailing club, looking into the motivations of Sport, Self Improvement, Social and Community.
Posted on 12 Dec