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A competitive fleet set for the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

by RSHYR Media 23 Nov 2023 13:39 PST 26 December 2023
Callaghan, Henry, Haynes, Winning Jr., Williams, Hall gather behind the Rolex Sydney Hobart trophies © Andrea Francolini

A diverse fleet, including multiple former winners, will take on the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on Boxing Day.

One hundred and thirteen boats are entered for the 78th running of Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's (CYCA) famous race, which begins on Sydney Harbour at 1 PM on Tuesday 26 December.

There are 10 international entrants: from New Zealand (Allegresse, Caro and Niksen), Hong Kong (Antipodes and SHK Scallywag), New Caledonia (Eye Candy), USA (Lenny), France (Teasing Machine), Germany (Rockall 8), and Ireland (Cinnamon Girl).

Australia is represented across all six states, with New South Wales home to 60 entries, while Queensland fields 18, Victoria 15, Tasmania 7, Western Australia 2, and South Australia 1.

Four 100-foot maxis will likely vie for Line Honours this year - four-time winner Andoo Comanche which took Line Honours in 2022 and holds the race record of 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, and 24 seconds as LDV Comanche for Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant (2017), Law Connect, which placed second last year and won the John H Illingworth Challenge Cup as first across the line back in 2016 as Perpetual LOYAL, SHK Scallywag, and Wild Thing 100, the recently modified Botin 80 Stefan Racing.

On his competition, Andoo Comanche skipper John Winning Jr. said, "Scallywag [didn't race last year] is an unknown quantity, but I believe Witty [David Witt] has the boat in the best shape ever. Law Connect broke the record in 2016 [as Perpetual LOYAL] so they have a phenomenal boat."

"Grant Wharington's Wild Thing is another unknown. Wharo is working around the clock to get the boat finished. He is a determined man so I'm sure he will have the boat ready to go."

Sam Haynes and the crew of his TP52 Celestial are back to defend the coveted Tattersall Cup awarded in 2022 as Overall winner under IRC on corrected time.

On whether he can win the race again or not, Haynes said "TP52s seem to fit the race, then you need skilled sailors with the personalities to match. You need confidence too and I'm going to put my best foot forward".

The competition for the major prize will be hotly contested this year with eight mini maxis and nine TP52s and other 52-foot racers as well as a range of smaller boats across all divisions, including two-handed, that could be up for the challenge if conditions favour them.

Five other past Overall winners are racing this year:

  • Alive (2018)
  • Bumblebee V (2001)
  • Love & War (1974, 1978, 2006), one of only three yachts to have won Overall on three separate occasions (Freya, Love & War, and Ichi Ban)
  • Christina, winner of the 1946 Sydney Hobart
  • Wild Oats/Wild Rose, won in 1993 and 2014 respectively

Twenty Two-Handed entries are competing. Rupert Henry returns as the 2022 Two-Handed Division winner with his Lombard 34 Mistral.

Henry describes sailing Hobart two-handed, "We only manage around 4 hours max of sleep each. We know when each other needs to crash so we do it then."

"I don't prefer two-handed sailing, but I'm just enjoying trying to reach my full potential with just two people racing it."

Jules Hall, who won the inaugural Two-Handed Division in 2021 with Jan Scholten on Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth, will be campaigning the J/99 fully-crewed this year and has put together a strong team comprised of CYCA's Youth Sailing Academy sailors - a mix of both experienced and first-timers.

Once again, there will be a large number of women sailors competing.

Lisa Callaghan, who owns the Sydney 38 Mondo with Stephen Teudt, returns to the race in 2023 with unfinished business after retiring Mondo last year with a broken gooseneck.

Of the 113 entrants, seven were only built this year and 33 were constructed before 2000. The oldest entrant is Ena Ladd's Christina, built in 1932. She is returning after 77 years having done just the one race in 1946.

One of the older boats, Robert Williams' 1960-built Sylph VI, makes a return to the Sydney Hobart for the first time in 51 years after having competed five times back in the 1960s and early '70s.

From the four 100-foot maxis through to the three 30-footers - Currawong, Niksen and Gun Runner, the fleet will take the line on Boxing Day to add another chapter to the race's rich history. They will join the 6,407 boats that have competed since 1945 when nine boats took on the challenge to race to Hobart from Sydney Harbour.

CYCA Commodore, Arthur Lane, took the opportunity to thank Rolex, Race Finishing Partner the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania and the event's many partners for their continued support.

The Boxing Day start of the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and live-and-on-demand on the 7Plus app.

Internationally, the race will be available through YouTube on CYCATV or on Facebook Rolex Sydney Hobart page.

For the full list of entries and more information about the race, visit rolexsydneyhobart.com.

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