Over the past 74 years, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has become an icon of Australia's summer sport, ranking in public interest with such national events as the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Open tennis and the Boxing Day cricket test. No regular annual yachting event in the world attracts such huge media coverage than does the start on Sydney Harbour.
- Maluka of Kermandie
- Roger Hickman's farr 43 Wild Rose
- 1966 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Fidelis at the start
An elegant gaff-rigged cutter on which champagne corks are frequently heard to pop; a battered, steel-hulled cutter which has sailed among the icebergs of Antarctica; a stoutly-built, double-ended cutter now cruising the Caribbean; a sloop owned and skippered by a yachtsman who was to become Prime Minister of England; maxi yachts from Australia, America, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany and Denmark; a tiny half tonner from Tasmania with a rather suggestive insignia on its transom.
Then there's been a state-of-the-art ocean racer developed from America's Cup technology, a one-off little sloop from an Aussie designer, the latest design for an IMS ocean racer, a latest design for an IRC ocean racer, a round-the-world 60-footer, the maximum 30m length Reichel/Pugh maxi taking line and handicap honours and setting a new course record, the a classic Sparkman & Stephens 47 winning the Tattersall's Cup for the third time, and a eighth consecutive line honours win, the first time a boat has achieved this feat since 1948.
What do these yachts of widely varying age, size, shape, construction and rig have in common?
They have all achieved a place in Australian and international yachting history by taking line honours or winning overall handicap honours on corrected time in Australia's most famous ocean race, the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart which ranks in world status with the Rolex Fastnet Race in England and the Newport to Bermuda Race in the USA.
The yachts mentioned above Nerida, Solo, Freya, Morning Cloud, Kialoa, New Zealand Endeavour (called Tasmania for the 50th Sydney Hobart in 1994), Ragamuffin, Morning Glory, Screw Loose, Brindabella, Ondine, Sayonara,Terra Firma, AFR Midnight Rambler, Yendys, SAP Ausmaid ,Bumblebee 5, Alfa Romeo, Quest, Nokia, Wild Oats XI, and Love & War are just a few of the great ocean racing yachts which are inscribed on the Sydney Hobart honour roll at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's clubhouse at Rushcutters Bay in Sydney.
The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race Timeline 1945 - 2016 is available here.
The 2006 fleet ranged in size from the 30 foot Maluka, the 1932 built gaff rigged timber boat, through to the one-design Sydney 38s including Another Challenge, Challenge and Star Dean Willcocks, then the grand prix IRC boats in the 45 to 60-foot group, including the two new Reichel/Pugh boats, Yendys and Loki, the Cookson 50s Quantum Racing and Living Doll and the TP52 Wot Yot, which was joined by sistership Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin for the 2007 race.
In 2006 there were three maximum length 30m maxis, Skandia, Wild Oats XI and Maximus and two Volvo 70s, ABN AMRO ONE and Ichi Ban, the latter modified to a Jones 70 prior to Boxing Day. The Volvo 60s CMC Markets Getaway Sailing and DHL also raced south.
The oldest and smallest boat in the fleet was Maluka.
In 2007, four 30m maxis took centre stage. Bob Oatley's Wild Oats XI secured a triple line honours win, after some tough competition from Mike Slade's new ICAP Leopard, which smashed the 2007 Rolex Fastnet Race record earlier that year in August.
Champion Australian maxi Brindabella, line honours winner in 1997, returned to the event under new owner Andrew Short and raced under the name of Toyota Aurion V6.
Roger Sturgeon's STP65 Rosebud, from the USA, was declared the overall winner of the 63rd Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
In 2008, Wild Oats XI claimed a fourth line honours win, with Bob Steel's TP52 Quest declared the overall winner. In a true act of generosity, Steel presented his sailing master, Mike Green, with his Rolex Yacht master timepiece at the official prizegiving of the 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart.
Neville Crichton's Alfa Romeo from New Zealand, won the protracted line honours clash of the eight super maxis in the 65th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, ending the four-year dominance of Wild Oats XI, the race record holder from NSW, owned by Bob Oatley and skippered by Mark Richards.
Alfa Romeo finished the race in 2 days 9 hours 2 minutes 10 seconds but it was a South Australian yacht Two True, a brand new Beneteau First 40, owned by orthopaedic surgeon Andrew Saies, that won the race overall. Before being declared the winner, Saies had to wait a nail-biting 24 hours, and survive a protest hearing relating to an incident on Sydney Harbour at the start of the 628 nautical mile race. Once the international jury dismissed the protest, Saies' Two True was declared the overall winner.
The 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart race will be remembered by competitors as: "the most benign and mentally frustrating Hobart," to date, largely due to the light to moderate winds experienced by the fleet of 100 yachts. It will also be remembered as the year the race organisers, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia extended the length overall from 98 feet (30m) to 100 feet (30.48m); and ran an ORCi division as a test of the rule.
The 66th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was the most physically demanding since 2004, which had 56 boats retire, overcome by the conditions. The 2010 fleet withstood battering headwinds and gale-force conditions down the NSW coast and through the notorious Bass Strait.
A fleet of 87 started the 628 nautical mile race, but 69 crossed the finish line, with 18 yachts retiring, mostly bashed about by the southerly buster on the second day. Andrew Lawrence's Jazz Player was the first casualty on the first night at sea after she tore her mainsail.
Mid-southerly on the second day, Rolex photographer Carlo Borlenghi reported from a helicopter: "There are yachts with triple-reefs, some with storm headsails, and others racing bare-poles (no sails). In a decade of covering the race I've never seen seas like those."
Although all arrived in Hobart relatively unscathed, the race was not without incident. The first occurred just inside South Head shortly after the start when Grant Wharington's Wild Thing was involved in a collision with a media boat, but suffered no visible damage.
Ludde Ingvall's YuuZoo lost two crewmen overboard within five hours of the start, but recovered them quickly.
During the southerly winds on December 27, Peter Rodgers, reported a crew with a head injury aboard She, who was taken to Ulladulla and a waiting ambulance. He was later released from hospital.
A Dodo crewman broke his arm and was transferred to Eden and taken to hospital, while 25-race veteran Bacardi, a sturdy 32 year-old Peterson 44, dropped her rig off the NSW south coast.
Commenting on the race conditions Ran encountered this time, as opposed to 2009, Zennstrom said, "I think I have now definitely seen what the race is all about. It was tough crossing Bass Strait; 35 knots of wind and big seas. The whole experience has been fantastic."
Wild Oats XI ultimately won line honours for the fifth time after a fast ride up the Derwent. She crossed the finish line at 8.37pm in the time of two days, seven hours, 37 minutes, 20 seconds, well outside her 2005 record of 1day 18hr 40min 10sec.
South Australian Geoff Boettcher and his Secret Men's Business 3.5 crew were crowned the overall race winners and were the recipients of the Tattersall's Cup and Rolex yacht Master time-piece. Boettcher's win follows the 2009 win of fellow South Australian Andrew Saies (Two True), who disappointingly retired from this race with engine problems.
A spellbinding 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race boiled over, when two super maxis battled for line honours all the way to Hobart, and created one of the closest finishes ever - ending in shock for one and drama for the other.
Favourite for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's yearly 628 nautical mile race, Bob Oatley's Wild Oats XI, skippered by Mark Richards, has only been beaten once before (by Alfa Romeo in 2009) and she missed out on the hoped for sixth victory this time.
Instead, the victory went to Investec Loyal, whose owner Anthony Bell had to fight a second battle in the protest room to hold onto the J.H. Illingworth Trophy.
Eighty eight yachts left Sydney Harbour in the predicted north-easterly sea breeze. Wild Oats XI, which had a problem with its primary winch, narrowly led Investec Loyal out of Sydney Heads, with Peter Millard and John Honan's Lahana and Stephen Ainsworth's Loki next.
On the morning of December 28, as the leaders charged down the Tasmanian coast, Wild Oats XI regained the lead from Investec Loyal, keeping all connected with the race riveted, as the line honours chase became a match race.
Both yachts ran out of wind and slowed to 2 and 3 knots. Wild Oats XI stopped and Investec Loyal, with the benefit of hindsight, sailed around her adversary.
Bell's boat claimed line honours by 3 minutes 8 seconds, crossing the line at 19.14.18 hours, in the time of 2 days 6hrs 14mins 8sec; the fourth closest finish ever.
As Wild Oats XI crossed the line in second, Mark Richards scattered Gary Ticehurst's ashes, while Gary's wife Teresa laid a wreath from aboard another vessel. The yachting fraternity was still coming to grips with Gary's death while on assignment in his chopper last August. He was of great solace to Hobart crews over 27 years and played a significant role in the rescue of many people in the tragic 1998 race.
On Investec Loyal, the celebrations had started when Anthony Bell was handed a protest lodged against him by the Race Committee, citing RRS 41. In short, it states 'outside help'. The protest was dismissed when the international jury could find no evidence that Investec Loyal had gained any advantage from the information.
Loki won the race overall, "It's the fulfilment of a dream," Ainsworth said of Loki's triumph. "You enter the race every year hoping and give it your best shot every time," he said of winning on his 14th try.
The 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart was a great contest. It may have finished with one boat, Wild Oats XI, scooping all the serious silverware, but to limit the story to that fact would be an injustice to the other 75 yachts that raced. Over and above the remarkable second treble of line honours, overall win and new race record secured by Wild Oats XI, this race will be remembered for the array of conditions experienced and the commitment of the smaller boats to finish despite the wind playing into the hands of the larger boats.
The 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart will long be remembered for its 22 international entries, 15 new boats showcasing the latest in technology, stars from Olympics, America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Races, the Clipper yachts having their first shot and the high level of competition in the 94-strong fleet.
Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI left an indelible print when Mark Richards skippered her to a seventh line honours victory at 19.07.27hrs on December 28, matching the record of the yacht originally known as Morna (from 1946 to 1948) and then Kurrewa IV (1954, 1956,1957 and 1960).
The 94-boat fleet featured five 100 foot maxis, three Volvo 70s, seven former race winners and a seriously competitive lineup across the fleet. Several newly-launched boats came to the race as ‘dark horses’, having not yet competed or in relatively few races, and with veteran crew who had the experience to make them a threat; among these were Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal (ex-Speedboat, Rambler100), Karl Kwok’s Botin 80, Beau Geste; Matt Allen’s Carkeek 60, Ichi Ban, and Jim Delegat’s Volvo 70 Giacomo.
Two yachts with a shared history claimed the main prizes at a memorable 70th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 2014.
Driven by facing her most fearsome opponent in years, Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI made history by claiming a record-breaking eighth line honours victory.
Some 29 hours later, Oatley’s original Wild Oats arrived in Hobart with a corrected time finish that would ensure overall victory and the coveted Tattersall’s Cup trophy.
Oatley’s former boat, the 43-ft Wild Rose, owned and skippered by his friend Roger Hickman, secured her second victory in the race, 21 years after the first.
Paul Clitheroe’s TP52 Balance was declared the overall winner of the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Clitheroe’s major rival for the Tattersall’s Cup, Quikpoint Azzurro gliding over the finish line in Hobart at 07.37.59 hours to claim third place.
The 72nd edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was won in record time. It was the first time that more than one boat had broken the record, with Perpetual LOYAL crossing the line in first, Giacomo second and Scallywag third.
Perpetual LOYAL set a new race record of one day 13 hours 31 minutes and 20 seconds – well ahead of the 1 day 18hrs 23mins 12secs set by Wild Oats XI in 2012.
Volvo 70 Giacomo was second over the line, but finished first overall, taking home the Tattersall's Cup Trophy. The Derwent River shut down after Scallywag finished, and remained almost becalmed for the remainder of the race, as boats trickled through the finish in less than 10 knots of wind.