In some countries Boxing Day, December 26th is celebrated as the day when servants and tradespeople would receive gifts, the Christmas box. Other countries which follow Catholic tradition know this day as St. Stephen’s day, dedicated to the first Christian martyr; which follows the God, as his day follows Christmas.
In terms of sailing, Boxing Day is a synonym for one of the toughest navigation regattas in the world. It is a sailing race from Sydney to Hobart which will celebrate its 70th anniversary this year. As the name suggests, the race starts in Sydney, Australia while the finish has always been in Hobart, Tasmania. Sailors have to survive the troubled waters of Tasman Sea, Bass Strait and, after successfully passing the Storm Bay, steer their boats up the Derwent River to the historic port city of Hobart.
The course is 628 nautical miles long. The first edition held in 1945 had nine starters, among which the yacht Rani was the winner with the result of six days, 14 hours and 22 minutes. Current record holder is the Wild Oats XI with 1 day 18 hours 23 minutes and 12 seconds elapsed time; who won the last 7 out of nine Sydney to Hobart editions…
The race is being fought for the so called Tattersall’s Cup, the prize for the winner with handicapped time while the fastest yacht is being awarded with the Line Honours. This year’s edition has gathered an impressive fleet of 117 international yachts while the start began with 15 – 18 knots of southeasterly breeze.
The real challenge for the legendary Wild Oats XI is the Comanche. It is a brand new 100 feet long supermaxi owned by Jim Clark, the founder of Netscape. Clark’s plan is not only to win the major offshore regattas but to break records at Rolex Sydney Hobart, Rolex Transatlantic, Rolex Fastnet and Rolex Middle Sea Races. His dream is coming true so far but the race started less than 10 hours ago, so anything is possible.
From my point of view, everyone who finishes the race deserves respect. As I browsed the starting list I noticed some yacht types familiar to me from less demanding races than Sydney to Hobart. Names such as Beneteau, Salona, Hanse, Jeanneau, Moody; which are more appropriate to see in charter agency catalog or on the starting list of some ‘quiet’ inshore regatta.
See you soon with the report about the course and the finish of the anniversary edition of Rolex Sydney to Hobart.
I wish you a calm sea, a fine wind and a strong mast!