Stand by for what could be a clash of over-the-top speed demons racing to Hobart this year. On December 26, while those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are returning gifts and taking relatives to the airport, some of the fastest monohulls in the world will begin a 627-mile sprint from Sydney to Hobart, Tasmania.
The course starts in Sydney Harbour, heads down the East Coast of Australia, across the eastern part of Bass Strait, then down the Tasmanian East Coast. After rounding Tasman Island, the fleet sails 30 miles across Storm Bay and then 11 miles up the Derwent River to finish off Battery Point in Hobart.
In 1945, the first line honors winner, 39-foot Rani, took six and a half days to reach Hobart. In 1999, the former Whitbread 60 Nokia took one day, nineteen hours to cover the course. The conventionally-ballasted Brindabella, then 72 feet long, finished just under an hour later.
Boats to watch this year:
Grundig, a heavily modified Open 60 with three tons of water ballast and a new, six-foot scoop. Last-minute measurement difficulties may take this rocketship out of the running.
A freshly lengthened Brindabella, now 80 feet, and sporting a new keel. Owner George Snow has been looking forward to the match-up with Grundig.
Australian Skandia (ex-Wild Thing), a no-holds-barred, water-ballasted, 86-foot maxi. Wild Thing is the only boat thats been able to beat Nicorette this year.
Nicorette, an 80-foot water-ballasted maxi that took line honors last year, beating next finisher, Wild Thing , by 4 hours.
Bumblebee V, a Sydney Yachts-built IMS 62-footer, sporting a brand-new keel and just off a victory in the British Trophy regatta.
From Seattle YC, Richard Robbins Perry 68 cruiser/racer Ikon, built this year in New Zealand.
And dont forget the Volvo 60s, the Sydney-Hobart is part of their next leg. After a three and a half hour layover in Hobart, theyll continue on to Auckland. Given the proper conditions, the 60s could well beat Nokias record run.