A showdown between the organizers of the Volvo Ocean Race and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has resulted in the club agreeing to the VOR yachts having their own independent start line for the Sydney to Hobart Race.
The 630-mile classic, starting December 26, is the first half of the third leg of the VOR. After a three-hour pit stop in Hobart, the eight VOR yachts will then head back out onto the Tasman Sea and head for Auckland.
It was agreed from the outset that the VOR yachts would have their own start line 200 meters in front of the Sydney to Hobart yachts. But just weeks ago the club proposed that the maxis racing to Hobart would join them.
In what was described as a fiery meeting between the VOR officials and the club, the VOR came out the winner. They understandably didnt want anyone sharing their start. The last thing needed was for a VOR yacht to be damaged in a collision with a non-VOR entry. The presence of the maxis would also dilute the impact of the Volvo boats and create confusion for television audiences.
The CYCA has announced a fleet of 76 for this years 57th staging of the Hobart race. It includes the eight VOR yachts, but is still five down from last year, partly because of the uncertainty over the fate of the event following news that it had not secured a naming rights sponsor. The club has now underwritten the event and the associated live television coverage because of a guarantee that a long-term naming rights sponsor would emerge next year.
In the dash for line honors in the Hobart race, Ludde Ingvalls 80-foot Swedish maxi Nicorette has every chance of making it back-to-back wins. She looks like the form boat among the maxis. Much interest will, however, center on the recently modified local big boats, Brindabella (George Snow) and Grundig (Sean Langman). Both have been lengthened and had new keels fitted. The evergreen Brindabella also has a new bow profile.
On handicap in the IMS division, Kevan Pearces Farr 47 SAP Ausmaid could also come away with two wins in a row. The strongest challenges are expected to come from former winner Sting (Terry Mullens), Ragamuffin (Syd Fischer), and the new Farr 52 Hollywood Boulevard (Ray Roberts).