One of the world’s most important long distance regattas (going for 63 consecutive years now), is held in the coasts of Sydney, Australia.
This 628 mile long test is one of the sport’s most important icons in Australia during the summer, reaching a crowd that can be compared to the “Australian Open” since no other nautical challenge reaches the coverage points like every 26th of De- cember on the “Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race”.
This competition is considered in the sport of sailing as an extreme test of navigation, since the weather conditions this race assembles are very complicated to the south on the Tasmanian Sea and through the Bass Narrows.
The importance of this test is noticing the weather’s ability of suddenly changing into the worst and harshest conditions, without any notice. There are many cases in this regatta where some of the boats have to withdraw from the race due to substantial damage, like the Super Maxi “Skandia" when loosing its keel.
This event has been celebrated since 1945, and on this past December they had their 64th celebration, an event with the participation of boats from countries like Australia, Holland and New Zealand. The awaited “Tattersall’s Cup" given to the boat with the best compensated time. This edition also marked the 10 years since the tragic regatta in ’98 where 6 crew members lost their lives.
For this reason rules were reinforced this year, and it is required that at least half of the crew and the leader must have completed a Category 1 Regatta, and at least two crew members have to be certified in first aid.
Previous to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, the “Cruising Yacht Club of Australia”, organized a series of regattas as preparations, from a total of seven races, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race is the only one that scores double point for the general ranking.
The summer of regattas in Australia starts with the “Rolex Trophy One Design Series” a race for the “One Design” class, starting on Friday December 12 and ended on January 1st 2009.
It is known that the 628 miles from the regatta are defined as one of the most complex events in the world. This great challenge for al sailors starts on the port of Sydney, sailing to the Tasmanian Sea, and going down to southeast Australia sailing next to the Bass Narrows (dividing Australia and Tasmania), so it reaches the Tasmanian east coast.
In the island of Tasmania the sailors go deep into the Storm Bay where they set their course for the Der- went River to finish in the historical port of Hobart City.
During this whole regatta, some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes are crossed even when the contestants are 10 or 40 miles out in the open sea.
One of the most difficult parts of the regatta in when the boats are in the Bass Narrows, since the water there is not too deep and winds can be very strong, this is why navigation at this point becomes very tactical, aside from the fact that during the whole race, it is very difficult to see your opponents.
The winner of this edition in the Line Honours category was the “Wild Oats XI”, with a total time of 1 day, 20 hours, 34 minutes and 14 seconds, fol- lowed by the “Skandia” and in third place came the “Ichi Ban”. In the IRC category, the winner was the “Quest”, and for the PHS and One Design categories the winners were the “Telcoinabox Merit” and the “Morris Finance Cinquante” for each race.
Text: José María Lorenzo ± Photo: Cortesía Sydney Hobart Yacht Race:©Rolex