The fleet for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 69th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which starts on December 26, has been bolstered early with the addition of the 12 brand new Clipper 70 yachts racing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Having started the 40,000 nautical mile Clipper race on September 1, from London, the Clipper fleet will arrive in Sydney from Albany, Western Australia, on the fourth of its eight leg race.
In announcing the Clipper fleet was to take part in CYCA’s world-famous race, Commodore Howard Piggott commented: “We are very pleased the Clipper fleet will be joining our race to Hobart this year. The Clipper 70’s and the crews that sail them will create great interest and dimension to our race.”
Amongst the Clipper fleet will be a number of Australian crew members and two Australian skippers who have sailed the Rolex Sydney Hobart previously. Sydney-based Chris Hollis (33) has taken part twice: “I love racing and getting other people excited about it. I’m extremely passionate about it,” he said.
“I competed as a bowman in my first Hobart race, so to lead my crew on the new Clipper 70 will be phenomenal,” Hollis added.
Damian Parnham (48) is the other skipper, having sailed the Hobart aboard Brindabella, the 1991 Hobart line honours victor, in the past. “I’m really looking forward to take on the Sydney Hobart on a Clipper 70. While I don’t think winning at any cost is the focus, I hope to raise the team to a competitive level so we can have a good crack,” he said.
This will be a first Rolex Sydney Hobart for the Clipper fleet and its 12 brand new identical Clipper 70 yachts, but not so for the race’s originator, Sir Robin Knox Johnston, who competed in the 2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart aboard Titania of Cowes.
“The timing was perfect and the opportunity irresistible,” said Sir Robin, the first person to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world, between 1968 and 1969, and who started the biennial Clipper race to offer amateurs from all walks of life the opportunity of experiencing the thrill of ocean racing and a circumnavigation of the planet.
“The Clipper sailors will have sailed halfway around the world to participate in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, one of the world's great classic ocean races. It will give these amateur crews a chance to test themselves against some tough opposition outside the Clipper Race,” he said.
Other notable entries received so far include Nikata, a British Swan 82 to be skippered by Tom Brewer, and past CYCA Commodore, Matt Allen, with race his brand new Carkeek 60, Ichi Ban, due to be launched in October.
Philip Childs is again bringing his Farr 49, Knee Deep, all the way from Western Australia. The former Yendys won the 1999 Rolex Sydney Hobart for original owner, Geoff Ross.
Rod Jones’ has entered the revamped Heaven Can Wait, now known as Audi Sunshine Coast. In his second offshore outing, the Queenslander won Division 1 of the CYCA’s 2013 Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, held at the end of July.
Once again, the boat to beat for line honours will be Bob Oatley‘s super maxi Wild Oats XI, skippered by Mark Richards. The reigning race record holder has taken line honours in six of the last eight Hobart races, including four consecutive victories from 2005, when it broke the record.
The CYCA is predicting a fleet of approximately 80 yachts for the 628 nautical mile race on Boxing Day at 1pm AEDT.
The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and the Australia Network throughout the Asia Pacific Region, and webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7.
By Di Pearson, Rolex Sydney Hobart media