Multiple former winners, international entrants and a record number of two-handed competitors headline a strong contingent of 120 boats entered for the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Entries closed on Friday 28 October for the 77th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart, with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the race organiser, welcoming a truly international fleet for the first time since 2019.
Four 100-foot maxis will lead the battle for Line Honours. John Winning Jr has chartered the VPLP 100 Andoo Comanche, which has won Line Honours on three occasions, including a current race record in 2017 for Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant.
Mark Bradford will skipper Peter Harburg’s Reichel/Pugh 100 Black Jack, the 2021 Line Honours winner. Hamilton Island Wild Oats, which holds the record for most Line Honours wins (9), returns to the race for the first time since 2019, with Mark Richards again at the helm of the Oatley family’s Reichel/Pugh 100, formerly named Wild Oats XI.
Christian Beck’s Juan-K 100 LawConnect – a Line Honours winner for Anthony Bell as Perpetual LOYAL in 2016 – will look to go one better, having finished second over the line last year.
A highly competitive field of mini maxis features the 2018 Tattersall Cup winner, Alive, as well as Moneypenny, No Limit, Stefan Racing, URM Group, Whisper and Willow.
Duncan Hine, who skippered Philip Turner’s Reichel/Pugh 66 Alive to the overall win four years ago, says the Tasmanian boat is ready to reclaim one of ocean racing’s most coveted trophies.
"We’re going great guns really," Hine said. "The boat is going well and all of our maintenance seems to be up to date.
"We’ve got a good crew. We get along well and that’s how we run the boat. We want to enjoy the sailing.
"It’s not all about the outcome, because the outcome comes down to the weather, provided you’ve sailed it well."
Boats will travel from around the world to take on the 628 nautical mile race, including from Germany (Orione), Great Britain (Sunrise), Hungary (Cassiopeia 68), New Caledonia (Eye Candy and Poulpito), New Zealand (Caro) and USA (Warrior Won).
Caro and Warrior Won are part of what will be a highly-anticipated tussle between the 52-footers, including Matt Allen’s Botin 52 Ichi Ban, which won a record-equalling third Tattersall Cup in 2021, and another former winner, Craig Neil’s TP52 Quest (winner as Quest in 2008 and Balance in 2015).
Other 52s to watch include Sam Haynes’ TP52 Celestial (second overall in 2021), Gweilo, KOA, Maritimo, Patrice, Smuggler and Zen.
The Farr 43 Wild Oats, overall winner for Roger Hickman in 2014 as Wild Rose, will be skippered by Brett Eagle.
Chutzpah, Midnight Rambler, Sail Exchange and White Bay 6 Azzurro are some of the strong contenders in the 30-40-foot range.
Sean Langman’s 9-metre Ranger Maluka, skippered by his son Peter, is the smallest boat in the fleet. She is one of six boats under 10-metres in length.
Following a successful introduction to the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart, the Two-Handed Division has grown to 22 boats for this year’s race.
Two-handed entrants will this year be able to compete for the Tattersall Cup.
Carlos Aydos’ S&S 34 Crux (co-skippered by Peter Grayson) was one of the standout competitors in 2021, finishing second in the Two-Handed Division.
Crux is in good form, recently finishing fourth overall behind Andoo Comanche, URM Group and Moneypenny in the Tollgate Islands Race.
"It’s really cool to see we have increased the number of two-handers," Aydos said. "I’d love to see the two-handed fleet continue to grow.
"It’s a lot less hectic for us this year. Last year there was so much preparation to get the boat ready. It was our first Hobart together, so we had so many boxes to tick and equipment to buy.
"This year we are able to focus a lot more on the racing side of the things rather than preparation.
"Peter and I have stayed together as a team so we know each other well. We don’t need to talk to teach other too much; we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
"This year has been nice in that regard – we’re feeling more comfortable with the boat and with each other."
Tasmanians Rob Gough and John Saul were the first two-handed competitors to finish the Rolex Sydney Hobart, on Gough’s Akilaria RC2 Sidewinder (now entered fully-crewed by Louis Ryckmans as Yeah Baby). Gough and Saul are back in the fleet but this time on Rob’s Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300 Kraken.
Kraken is one of five Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300s racing two-handed, alongside Hip-Nautic, Sun Fast Racing, Transcendence Crento and Tumbleweed.
Kathy Veel and Bridget Canham will race together on the Currawong 30 Currawong, while Campbell Geeves and Wendy Tuck are again teaming up on Speedwell.
The 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race begins in Sydney Harbour at 1pm (AEDT) on Monday 26 December.
To view the full list of entrants, visit the Yachts page.