Boxing Day in Australia is the perfect excuse to fire up the barbeque, devour leftover Christmas feasts and kick back to watch one of the world’s toughest yacht races.
The 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart will see a 102-strong fleet aiming to make it from Sydney, down Australia’s east coast, across Bass Straight and into Hobart. While a handful will race for line honours, every crew could potentially claim The Tattersall Cup – the coveted prize for the overall victor.
Here are the fast facts about this year’s race:
Start time: 1pm AEDT
Where to watch: If you’re not sitting on the Aussie coastline, switch to Channel 7 at 12:30pm AEDT, or online via the 7LIVE App! or the race website.
You can also follow the yachts positions during the race on YACHT TRACKER.
Race Distance: 628 nautical miles/1,163 kilometres/722 miles. This distance represents what is known as the ‘rhumbline’, the most direct route from Sydney to Hobart.
Of course the rhumbline is not always the best way, so for many yachts, as they tack or gybe their way to Hobart, the course becomes longer than 628 nautical miles.
Route: Sydney Harbour to Castray Esplanade in Hobart. The final checkpoint on the Australian mainland is Green Cape, where all vessels must do a radio check confirming they are about to cross Bass Strait with their radio in working order.
Race time from start to finish: The race record is held by Perpetual LOYAL, in One day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds is the benchmark.
In 2016 Giacomo and Scallywag both also crossed the finish line in under record time.
Who to watch, line honours: Wild Oats XI, Black Jack, InfoTrack and LDV Comanche are the four super maxis and all four are truly in contention this year.
All four big guns have won line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, with Wild Oats XI winning line honours a record eight times.
Who to watch, overall victory: It’s a diverse fleet this year, in which the weather may well determine the winner, although the early forecast favoured the big boats.
Defending champion Giacomo has been sold and renamed Wizard, which should be in the mix, as will TP52s Ichi Ban, Quest, Koa and Rockall. The larger Beau Geste and Wild Oats X have shown strong form too.
Showing just how open the race will be, the 1964 built Kialoa II is in with a chance, as is Mascalzone Latino, oldest boat in the fleet Dorade, Oskana and the 34 foot 35 year-old Komatsu Azzurro.
Our best advice, find a keen sailing boffin and listen to what they have to say!
Odds and ends – Become an expert in 5 minutes!
Size restriction: A vessel cannot be more than 100ft. or less than 30ft.
First female competitor: In 1946 Jane ‘Jenny’ Tate of Hobart raced alongside her husband, Horrie aboard Active. The ‘Jane Tate Memorial Trophy’ is awarded to the first female skipper to finish the race each year.
Dagmar O’Brien also competed in the same year with her husband Dr Brian (‘Mick’) O’Brien aboard Conella. They were forced to retire in Bass Strait.
This year we have 5 female skippers, and Lisa Blair leads an all-female team on board Climate Action Now.
International line honours winners: There have been 26 international line honours winners since the race began in 1945. Comanche (USA) was the last of those in 2015.
Biggest fleet: In the 50th edition of the race in 1994 there were 371 starters, including 24 internationals, 309 finished.
Oldest Yacht in the fleet: Dorade, built in 1929.
Slowest ever: In 1945 Wayfarer completed the race in an elapsed time of 11 days, six hours, 20 minutes (seven days, 19 hours, 43 minutes on corrected time).
Most successful boat designer: Bruce Farr and Farr Associates are credited with more overall winners than any other, a total of 21.
Between 1976 and 2003 he designed 15 winners, with an additional one in 2014. There are a further five wins attributed to ‘Farr Yacht Design’.
Radio Schedules: Each entrant must join three ‘SKEDS’, sailing jargon for ‘Scheduled Radio Check’, each day. They can be listened to through the website.
To ensure each crew stays within range there is the Radio Relay Vessel, ‘JBW’ that shadows the fleet throughout the race and docks in Hobart with the fleet.
How long has Rolex sponsored the race? The association began in 2002, making this year the 16th time they have been involved.