The Rolex Sydney Hobart race is underway, featuring an international fleet of 88 yachts, setting off at 13:00 local time in perfect conditions.
The sight of competing yachts setting sail full force under spinnaker on the passage through Sydney Heads, against a shoreline packed with spectators, set the scene for one of the most memorable race starts in recent years.
The race fleet includes four 100 foot Maxis – CQS, Perpetual LOYAL, Scallywag and Wild Oats XI – all harbouring winning ambition. “We are excited by the forecast and that records may be challenged,” said John Markos, Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), organisers of the event.
Perpetual LOYAL was first to clear Sydney Heads gaining a psychological advantage over her rivals, with Beau Geste and Scallywag in hot pursuit. Fourth to pass the Heads was eight-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI after an unusually slow start.
With heavy conditions forecast, Wild Oats XI is carrying extra weight with a record number of 22 crew onboard. “All four Maxis are going to have their moments,” said captain Mark Richards. “We don’t know the history of CQS as she is new with a radical design.
The Scallywag team has done a lot of yachting this year, their teamwork is good, and they are a different animal to what we have raced against in the last few editions. Perpetual LOYAL are a great team with more talent onboard this year.”
PERPETUAL LOYAL was the first of the four 100-ft Maxis to pass Sydney Heads. Owner/captain Anthony Bell was in a buoyant frame of mind as he prepared for the start. “I think one of the Maxis will break the race record. A lot will come down to what happens when we reach the Tasman coast but a time just inside the current race record is likely.”
Ludde Ingvall on CQS has already won line honours twice, the last time being twelve years ago on the original version of his current yacht. His much revamped CQS has generated much intrigue this year and, after a difficult start she is now playing catch up as the fleet race down the New South Wales coast of the Tasman Sea.
The current race record stands at 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds, set by Wild Oats XI in 2012.
Andrew Saies, owner of the 40 foot Two True, who won the Rolex Sydney Hobart in 2009 also makes his return after several years out. He said, “The weather forecast points to a great sail, but perhaps not ideal for our size of boat. To win this race you need a set of particular conditions to come together for your boat to win. It’s extremely hard to win this race.”
At the other end of the scale, yachts as small as 30 feet are aiming for personal records, while the mainly Swedish-crewed Matador is competing for the first time. “It has taken a year of preparation and a great challenge getting everything sorted. This is a legendary race and one we’ve read about so many times. It’s my dream to take part.” revealed owner Jonas Grander.
Rolex has been Title Sponsor of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race since 2002. Video highlights will be available throughout the competition on the Rolex Yachting YouTube channel.
Video: Start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2016https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTwmoSuzEVw
Rolex and Yachting
Rolex has always been associated with activities motivated by passion, excellence, precision and team spirit and has been associated with the elite world of sailing since the late 1950s. Today, Rolex is Title Sponsor of 15 major international events, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup.