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Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Fleet Building Nicely for St. Stephen's Day Start

18th September 2023
Celestial, the overall winner of the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
Celestial, the overall winner of the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has announced that the 78th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is off to a great start with 66 entrants signed up, just 99 days before the historic race on St. Stephen's Day. This year's fleet promises to be highly competitive with former winners, diverse international entries, and a formidable two-handed division.

Amongst the 66 entrants, six international boats from Germany, Hong Kong, New Caledonia, New Zealand, and the USA have signed up, complementing the rest of the entrants from various states throughout Australia. Sam Hayne's TP52 Celestial, the Overall Winner of the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart, is expected to return to contest for one of the most prestigious trophies in offshore racing - the Tattersall Cup.

The fleet also boasts four 100-foot maxis, including John Winning Jr's Andoo Comanche, four-time winner and race record holder, and Christian Beck's JK 100 LawConnect, runner-up in the past three races and Line Honours winner as Perpetual LOYAL in 2016.

Twenty percent of the fleet will be made up of two-handed entries, with ten entries already received. The Rolex Sydney Hobart will host a varied list of newcomers, including Chris O'Neill's J/99 Blue Planet, Peter Elkington's Young 11 Pacman, and Anthony Hammond's Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600 Maverick.

Arthur Lane, Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, expressed his excitement about the upcoming race and thanked Rolex for its ongoing support of sailing and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, as well as the race's many other partners who make it possible. The Commodore also highlighted the significant global interest in the race and the representation from all across Australia.

Overall, the fleet is shaping up to be worth watching throughout the race, with formidable entries and former winners.

Some of the notable boats competing in the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart are:

  • Andoo Comanche: John Winning Jr’s chartered VPLP/Verdier 100 has won Line Honours four times (2015/2017/2019/2022) and holds the current race record.
  • Alive: Phillip Turner's Reichel Pugh 66 holds the current monohull race record for the Rolex China Sea Race and was the Overall winner of the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
  • LawConnect: Christian Beck’s 100-footer was second over the line in 2022 for the third consecutive time and won Line Honours for Anthony Bell as Perpetual LOYAL in 2016.
  • Love & War: Simon Kurts’ perennial S&S 47 has won the Sydney Hobart race Overall on three occasions (1974/1978/2006) and is always in consideration when the conditions favour smaller boats.
  • Pacman: Peter Elkington’s Young 11 from Queensland was 3rd in the Two-Handed IRC Division in 2022 and 2nd in Division 3 Overall.
  • SHK Scallywag: Sun Hung Kai’s Hong-Kon based maxi was 3rd on Line Honours in 2021.
  • Smuggler: Sebastian Bohm’s TP52 placed 6th Overall in 2021 and 9th in 2022 and won the 2018 Ponant Sydney Noumea Race. One of several TP52s expected to feature.
  • URM Group: Anthony Johnston’s Reichel Pugh 72 recently won the 2023 Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race and finished 3rd in IRC Division 0 in the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart.
Published in Sydney to Hobart Team

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The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is an annual offshore yacht racing event with an increasingly international exposure attracting super maxi yachts and entries from around tne world. It is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, New South Wales on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart, Tasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).

The 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starts in Sydney Harbour at 1pm (AEDT) on Monday 26 December.

This is the 77th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart. The inaugural race was conducted in 1945 and has run every year since, apart from 2020, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

88 boats started the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart, with 50 finishing.

The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - FAQs

The number of Sydney Hobart Yacht Races held by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia since 1945 is 75

6,257 completed the Sydney Hobart Yacht race, 1036 retired or were disqualified)

About 60,061 sailors have competed in the Sydney Hobart Race between 1945 and 2019

Largest fleets: 371 starters in the 50th race in 1994 (309 finished); 154 starters in 1987 (146 finished); 179 starters in 1985 (145 finished); 151 starters in 1984 (46 finished); 173 started in 1983 (128 finished); 159 started in 1981 (143 finished); 147 started in 1979 (142 finished); 157 started in 2019 (154 finished)

116 in 2004 (59 finished); 117 in 2014 (103 finished); 157 in 2019 (154 finished)

Nine starters in the inaugural Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 1945

In 2015 and 2017 there were 27, including the 12 Clipper yachts (11 in 2017). In the record entry of 371 yachts in the 50th in 1994, there were 24 internationals

Rani, Captain John Illingworth RN (UK). Design: Barber 35’ cutter. Line and handicap winner

157 starters, 154 finishers (3 retirements)

IRC Overall: Ichi Ban, a TP52 owned by Matt Allen, NSW. Last year’s line honours winner: Comanche, Verdier Yacht Design and VPLP (FRA) owned by Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant, in 1 day 18 hours, 30 minutes, 24 seconds. Just 1hour 58min 32secs separated the five super maxis at the finish 

1 day 9 hours 15 minutes and 24 seconds, set in 2017 by LDV Comanche after Wild Oats XI was penalised one hour in port/starboard incident for a finish time of 1d 9h 48m 50s

The oldest ever sailor was Syd Fischer (88 years, 2015).

As a baby, Raud O'Brien did his first of some six Sydney Hobarts on his parent's Wraith of Odin (sic). As a veteran at three, Raud broke his arm when he fell off the companionway steps whilst feeding biscuits to the crew on watch Sophie Tasker sailed the 1978 race as a four-year-old on her father’s yacht Siska, which was not an official starter due to not meeting requirements of the CYCA. Sophie raced to Hobart in 1979, 1982 and 1983.

Quite a number of teenage boys and girls have sailed with their fathers and mothers, including Tasmanian Ken Gourlay’s 14-year-old son who sailed on Kismet in 1957. A 12-year-old boy, Travis Foley, sailed in the fatal 1998 race aboard Aspect Computing, which won PHS overall.

In 1978, the Brooker family sailed aboard their yacht Touchwood – parents Doug and Val and their children, Peter (13), Jacqueline (10), Kathryne (8) and Donald (6). Since 1999, the CYCA has set an age limit of 18 for competitors

Jane (‘Jenny’) Tate, from Hobart, sailed with her husband Horrie aboard Active in the 1946 Race, as did Dagmar O’Brien with her husband, Dr Brian (‘Mick’) O’Brien aboard Connella. Unfortunately, Connella was forced to retire in Bass Strait, but Active made it to the finish. The Jane Tate Memorial Trophy is presented each year to the first female skipper to finish the race

In 2019, Bill Barry-Cotter brought Katwinchar, built in 1904, back to the start line. She had competed with a previous owner in 1951. It is believed she is the oldest yacht to compete. According to CYCA life member and historian Alan Campbell, more than 31 yachts built before 1938 have competed in the race, including line honours winners Morna/Kurrewa IV (the same boat, renamed) and Astor, which were built in the 1920s.

Bruce Farr/Farr Yacht Design (NZL/USA) – can claim 20 overall wins from 1976 (with Piccolo) up to and including 2015 (with Balance)

Screw Loose (1979) – LOA 9.2m (30ft); Zeus II (1981) LOA 9.2m

TKlinger, NSW (1978) – LOA 8.23m (27ft)

Wild Oats XI (2012) – LOA 30.48m (100ft). Wild Oats XI had previously held the record in 2005 when she was 30m (98ft)

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