As Christmas rapidly approaches, the sailing community is also counting down the sleeps before Australia’s most iconic offshore race—the Rolex Sydney to Hobart. With the race in its 72nd edition, there’s plenty of things that remain consistent year after year: the media headlines will warn of wild weather; the cameras will be pointed in the direction of Wild Oats as the fleet leaves the harbour; and Hobart pub Customs House will open for a marathon four days, serving hundreds of bottles of rum to thirsty sailors. But here—in no particular order—are a few unique things you need to know about this year’s race;
1. Adrienne Cahalan sailing for her 25-year medallion
Well‑known sailor and navigator Adrienne Cahalan will this year be setting off on her 25th Hobart, a feat that will see her receive the prestigious 25-year medallion, becoming the first female to do so. She will navigate the TP52 Ragamuffin, a boat skippered by Brenton Fischer, grandson of the famous Syd Fischer.
You can read about how Adrienne likes prepares for the big race here.
2. Super-maxi CQS described as the dark horse
CQS, a super-maxi owned by Scandinavian Ludde Ingvall, is being described as the dark horse of this year’s race. Since the boat won the 2004 edition of the race (then called Nicorette) it has been radically redesigned with a new bowsprit, a longer reverse curve bow and a hydrofoil that works in sync with its canting keel. CQS is a contender that promises to keep the pointy end of the fleet on its toes.
3. Close competition among the nine TP52s entered
Some of the closest racing plays out in the middle of the fleet, and this year that competition is shaping up to be particularly tough with nine TP52s entered. As the TPs are designed for speed rather than strength, the crews will have their work cut out just nursing their boats to the finish line if conditions turn nasty. Chinese Whisper, Ichi Ban and last year’s overall race winner Balance are all tipped to do well.
4. Wild Oats XI back again with Bob’s grandson joining the crew
Okay, maybe this one doesn’t need to be listed. Of course, 8-time (line honours) winner Wild Oats will be back again. In preparation for this year’s race, Wild Oats XI has undone major work giving her a new bow, allowing for the removal of the boat’s retractable horizontal wing and saving 300kg in weight. After the passing of Bob Oatley AO, his grandson Daniel, a merchant sailor, will fittingly be joining the crew.
5. Winning Comanche crew jump ship to join Loyal
With last year’s line honours winner Comanche choosing not to return and defend her title, a number of the winning crew members are reported to instead be joining Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal which will again be raising funds for children’s charities.
6. Sean Langman enters the smallest, oldest yacht
Sean Langman is better known for his high speed sailing on maxis, skiffs and most recently a foiling GC32, but he’ll be entering the fleet’s smallest, oldest and mostly likely slowest yacht. Wooden Maluka is 84 years old and just 30ft long, but she’s reportedly been tuned up and fitted with performance sails.
7. 12 international entries join the fleet
This year’s fleet will include 12 international entries from as far afield as Germany, Sweden, Russia and Korea. The Chinese entry UBOX is skippered by Charles Caudrelier who led Dongfeng Race Team to their third place finish in the 2015 Volvo Ocean Race, and is part of a push to develop offshore sailing in China.
8. 76ft luxury yacht Charlotte promises a civilised ride to Hobart
76ft CNB Charlotte is without a doubt the most comfortable boat in the fleet. Kitted out with all the luxuries you’d expect on a small superyacht, the elegant boat will give her crew a very civilised ride to Hobart—a world away from the damp, hard bunks crews will endure on-board the majority of contenders.