Over 1,000 people crew on board the yachts contesting each Rolex Sydney Hobart; they come from many countries of the world and from many different professions. In the 2016 edition of the race, crew from 22 nations competed, and there were 12 international yachts entered.
- UBOX crew member before the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart
- Divisional winners at the dockside presentation
- Tony 'Glarke' Cable - 51 Hobarts - and the crew of Duende
The head of the crew is the skipper and often the skipper also owns the yacht. Other posititions on board include the helmsperson, navigator, tactician, trimmers and foredeck person or for'ard hand.
Each yacht carries between six (the minimum) and 24 crew members, the average across the fleet being 10-11.
An outcome of the stormy 1998 race is that at least 50 per cent of all crew members, including the skipper, must have completed a Sea Safety Survival Course. The course involves a number of exercises such as deploying a life raft, righting it when it capsizes and knowing what to do inside a life raft at sea if the yacht has to be abandoned. Other exercises include the use of safety equipment, weather and emergency procedures.
In the bygone era, ocean yacht racing was a largely male sport, but nowadays most yachts carry mixed crews. Indeed, as a very social sport, sailing encourages men, women and families to participate. Several yachts in the Rolex Sydney Hobart will be crewed by families, fathers and their sons and daughters, brothers and husbands and wives.
The minimum age to compete in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is 18 years of age. In 2006, Will Ryan turned 18 just three days before undertaking his first Hobart aboard Graeme Wood's Wot's Next. Jim Delegat's son, James Delegat, was the youngest competitor in the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart, and won the race overall on Giacomo.
There is no upper age limit, in fact in 2008 two octogenarian sailors, John Walker, at 86 the oldest skipper ever to race to Hobart, and eighty-one-year-old Syd Fischer. Walker retired after the 2008 race having completed 25 Hobarts, whilst Fischer topped Walker's record in 2015, when he competed at the age of 88 aboard his super maxi Ragamuffin 100.
In the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2007, Victorian yachtsman Lou Abrahams and Sydney yachtsman Tony Cable equalled the record for the most Hobarts for an individual, 44, set by the late Tasmanian yachtsman John Bennetto. In 2008, Tony Cable undertook his historic 45th Hobart race to create a new record for the most number of Hobarts by an individual. Cable then broke his own record in 2011 when he sailed his 46th Hobart on Duende, a TP52 owned by Damian Parkes. In 2015, Tony Cable sailed his 50th Hobart race on Duende, a milestone which he then bettered in 2016, making it a total 51 races.
Adrienne Cahalan became the first woman to compete in 25 Sydney Hobart Races in the history of the race in 2016. She has navigated Wild Oats XI to five line honours victories, including two trebles – line honours, overall and race record. In total, Cahalan has six Hobart line honours and two overall Hobart wins to her name.
In 2016, Bradshaw Kellett set a record of being the youngest to race in 25 consecutive Sydney Hobarts. Brad did his first Sydney Hobart at the age of 16, and due to the compulsory minimum age of 18, his record will never be broken.
Another record that was set in 2016, is the father and son combination of Bruce and Drew Taylor, who have done 25 Sydney Hobart Yacht Races together, in the same crew.