Please select your home edition
Edition
Vaikobi 2019AUG - Leaderboard 1

2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: Tactical challenges ahead

by Quinag 26 Dec 2018 04:06 PST 26 December 2018
Day 1 - 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race © Rolex / Studio Borlenghi

A glorious, sunny summer afternoon provided the setting for an impressive 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start. As the first yacht to successfully clear Sydney Heads, Peter Harburg's 100-ft Black Jack for the second year running gained an early psychological advantage over her rivals ahead of the more testing and sustained challenges which lie in wait as the frontrunners head south down the New South Wales coast.

A fleet of 85 yachts from nine countries commenced the 74th edition under a consistent 10-12 knot north-easterly breeze and within the amphitheatre that is Sydney Harbour, spectators filling every vantage point onshore and on the water.

This year both the contest to arrive first in Hobart, Tasmania and to claim overall victory on corrected time promise to be wide open. Rolex, celebrating 60 years of its relationship with the sport of yachting in 2018, has been Title Sponsor of the race since 2002.

Line honours: Comanche recovers

Of the five 100-footers in contention, four have tasted line honours success in one of their many previous guises. Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant's Comanche, only the sixth yacht to pass the Heads but soon leading the fleet following the initial exchanges in open water, delivered a new race record last year. Following an extensive training programme she is arguably in better shape this year. Victory in 2017 came at the expense of eight-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI, currently experiencing her longest run without success since first dominating the scene in 2005.

Subject to numerous modifications over recent months, the form of Seng Huang Lee's Hong Kong entrant Scallywag was harder to gauge and a little over three hours into the race bowsprit damage forced her retirement. Christian Beck's InfoTrack completes the field of contenders.

Navigators on the frontrunners were forecasting a 48-hour finish time which is some way off the race record of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds. Iain Murray, tactician/strategist on Wild Oats XI was braced for a complex race. "It's not going to be the windiest. It will be strategically challenging with a number of races within the race." A relatively fast passage south during the first evening was forecast before the leaders face the prospect of overcoming challenging lighter patches during the second day.

"To have the five 100-footers here for this race is great. The stakes are really high - everyone has recruited the best offshore sailors in the world," explained Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford.

Overall victory: An open field

Over the past decade, seven yachts measuring 52-ft and under have claimed the Tattersall's Cup and Rolex timepiece, rewards for the race's most sought-after prize outright victory on handicap. On the docks of race organisers Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) this morning, the prospect of this being a 'smaller boat' race was gaining traction. Bruce Taylor, owner/skipper of the 40-ft Chutzpah, preparing for his 38th Rolex Sydney Hobart, predicted a different contest to last year's downwind sleigh ride south.

"The conditions are highly variable which is the absolute antithesis to last year which was highly predictable. The forecast is changing by the minute. From our point of view it will be a matter of negotiating the calm conditions off Tasmania. It will be one of those races where it won't be over until it's over."

"The big boats will run out of air down the New South Wales coast," concurred Bryan Northcote, navigator on the S&S 39 Mark Twain, "meaning the back end of the fleet has a real chance this year."

Although no crew has retained the Tattersall's Cup since 1965, Matt Allen, owner of last year's winner, the Botin 52 Ichi Ban, is intent on challenging that statistic and has reason to be confident. "We know a lot more about our boat than this time last year and are more comfortable with our sail set up," explained Allen. "We're looking forward to the challenge of attempting to go back-to-back. Trying to beat all of the boats in your size range is the first priority." This group alone is highly-competitive comprising the likes of Teasing Machine, Privateer and nine TP52s. "I don't see a significant gap between the 50-ft boats unless there is a change in the current weather forecast," admitted Teasing Machine owner Eric de Turckheim, one of the contenders who has the incentive of becoming the 14th overseas winner of the race.

For the international fleet comprising more than 1,050 sailors from some 30 different countries, a compelling 628-nautical mile contest lies ahead. An edition which will demand precision in navigation, synergy in teamwork and tactical guile, all qualities which have made Rolex a natural partner of the race since 2002.

Find out more at www.rolexsydneyhobart.com

Related Articles

Fourth-largest fleet for 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart
Looking at 164 yachts on the start lines on Boxing Day The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) is pleased to announce that the fourth-largest fleet in the history of the race will take part in the 75th running of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Posted on 27 Nov
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race prized ideals
A rigorous examination of courage, skill and stamina Over the past three-quarters of a century, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has developed a rich heritage and a revered status as one of the world's toughest ocean racing contests. Posted on 23 Nov
Wild Oats XI clearing hurdles for Hobart
Supermaxi repairs underway in preparation for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2019 A lightning fast and very professional response by the highly experienced crew aboard the supermaxi Wild Oats XI when its mast failed at the weekend saved the yacht from the likelihood of considerably more damage. Posted on 12 Nov
170 yachts to start historic 2019 RSHYR
Entry for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has closed Entry for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has closed and organisers at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) are thrilled to announce 170 yachts from Australia and overseas will take part in their 75th race Posted on 28 Oct
Huge 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet
One week until close of entries A total of 157 entries have been received one week out from close of entries for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - and, in addition to a smattering of international entrants, nearly half the field is made up of yachts representing Australian states Posted on 18 Oct
Tasmanians launch 75th Rolex Sydney Hobart
80 days from the start of the historic 75th race Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman, past winners of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and key supporters from across the country have officially launched the 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (RYCT) in Hobart Posted on 7 Oct
100 days to 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
The historic 75th race to Hobart is building to be the biggest race in years Today marks 100 days to the historic 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - the 75th 628-nautical-mile race to Constitution Dock in Hobart, Tasmania. Posted on 17 Sep
Tried and tested versus newcomers
An eclectic fleet in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race When the 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starts, an eclectic fleet of tried and tested yachts will line up against newcomers for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's (CYCA) 75th running of the race. Posted on 8 Aug
75th Rolex Sydney Hobart reaches 100 entrants!
Insomnia, a JV42 from Pittwater in NSW becomes the 100th yacht to enter The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) is pleased to announce a milestone 100th yacht has already entered this year's 75th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, with the receipt of Marcus Grimes' entry for Insomnia, a JV42 from Pittwater in NSW. Posted on 11 Jul
Fleet builds for historic 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart
75 entries for the 75th year - and the race is still wide open! A mix of newcomers and race-winning veterans headline a 75-strong fleet already entered in the 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the historic 75th staging of the iconic Australian sporting event. Posted on 31 May
Naiad 660x82px_SuperyachtPandB 2019 Autumn Sale - FooterGul 2019 Carrier FOOTER