Published: Thursday, 30 March 2017

The 73rd edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), will come back to Australia from December 26 2017-January 1 2018.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Race To Come Back In December 3

(Photos: Daniel Forster / Rolex - Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2016)

The annual 628-nautical miles of race first started in 1945. Rolex has been a partner of the CYCA and Title Sponsor of the race since 2002.

The 628-nautical miles of endeavour, drive and determination which underpin each and every edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will again come to the fore at this year’s staging of one of the world’s most famous, and revered, yacht races.

The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart is one of the most viewed sailing events in the world. On December 26, Australia is in a festive mood. Just when the traditional international test cricket match in Melbourne breaks for lunch, the starting signal for the Rolex Sydney Hobart is fired, with an estimated one million Australians watching live from one of Sydney Harbour’s many vantage points, on television, or from the water itself.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Race To Come Back In December

During the race start, iconic landmarks like the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge pay witness to the action out on the water as a fleet of around one hundred yachts ranging from 100ft cutting-edge Maxis, crewed by elite professional sailing talent, to 30ft family-sailed yachts jostle for space at sea.

While the start is a public occasion, the race can soon become an isolated experience for those competing. The fleet disperses as the sight of dry land fades. Some crews have other yachts for company, while many will sail alone without a competitor in sight.

The racecourse takes the fleet south along the New South Wales coast of the Tasman Sea before crossing the eastern edge of Bass Strait, and continuing down the east coast of Tasmania before the final, sometimes slow, leg up the Derwent River to the historic port of Hobart.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Race To Come Back In December 1

The 1998 edition of the race witnessed severe storms, the sinking of five yachts and the loss of six lives in Bass Strait. Just as the Royal Ocean Racing Club had been in 1979 following the disastrous Fastnet Race, the CYCA’s response was pro-active and insightful. New safety measures and regulations were introduced and their global resonance led to international recognition and adoption.

The arrival of the first yacht is always a significant occasion, of great media and public interest. In the modern era of the race, one yacht – the 100-ft Maxi Wild Oats XI – has dominated line honours, finishing fastest in eight of the last 12 races and twice breaking the race record.

Since claiming line honours ahead of the American Maxi Comanche in 2014, Wild Oats XI has failed to finish the race. A torn mainsail ended her hopes in 2015 and last year keel damage forced her abandonment nearly 24 hours into the race, leaving the door open for Perpetual LOYAL.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Race To Come Back In December 2

The handicap system is a democratic one, ensuring the target of victory is theoretically open to any boat in the fleet. The weather conditions play their part. How crews manage the race collectively, tactically and navigationally is more important. The roll of honour over 70 years of the race demonstrates the rich variety of yachts to have won. Over the past decade alone, 10 different yachts have triumphed, ranging from 40-100ft.

Last year’s winner was the 70ft Giacomo, owned by Jim Delegat. She will not return to defend her title in 2017. The last yacht to win back-to-back races was Freya over 50 years ago.