Published: Thursday, 26 November 2015

One of the sailing world’s blue ribbon races celebrates its 71st edition this year. The start of the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart, organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) in conjunction with the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, will commence December 26.

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The race start is the single most viewed sailing event on the globe as hundreds of thousands of people watch from the shores of Sydney Harbour, live on television and over the internet.

The international fleet faces an offshore race stretching 628 nautical miles and finishing at the historic port city of Hobart, Tasmania.

Rolex has sponsored the competition since 2002 and the Rolex Sydney Hobart is an integral part of its triumvirate of 600nm offshore classics also comprising the Rolex Fastnet Race (celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2015) and the Rolex Middle Sea Race (dating back to 1968).

The values of sportsmanship, adventure, determination, courage and discovery set these offshore races apart from other yacht racing events, and reflect a rigorous sporting ethos that resonates with Rolex’s outstanding reputation for superior quality and performance.

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The organising club, the CYCA, has developed into Australia’s leading exponent of ocean racing and now has some 2,700 members.

Throughout the years the race has attracted politicians, business tycoons, sporting legends and the elite of sailing talent.

Last year’s fastest boat and winner of line honours was Australian Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI, the 100-ft racing yacht skippered by Mark Richards. In 2012, Wild Oats XI made history by securing the triple-crown for a second time: finishing first, she narrowly beat her own race record and set a new benchmark of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds, while also claiming the Tattersall’s Cup as overall race winner.

Although the race record was not broken in 2014, Wild Oats XI made history by securing a record eighth line honours victory, surpassing the number of victories achieved by Morna (later Kurrewa IV) in the 1960s.

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For most of the fleet, the main target remains overall victory on handicap and the coveted Tattersall’s Cup.