The serious countdown to the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has officially begun, with the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge taking place on Sydney Harbour today.
The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge is traditionally one of the busier days on the Harbour for spectator vessels. This year the 15 or so entrants, ranging in size from 100 foot super maxis to 50 foot grand prix racers can expect less traffic around them, but a ton of on board action.
“It’ll be an exciting race,” said Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards yesterday as he and Wild Oats XI’s race crew were preparing to don wet weather gear and complete a practice run around the 14 nautical mile SOLAS Big Boat Challenge track, which today takes them two and a half times around Sydney Harbour to the finish off the Opera House.
For the sailing novices on Anthony Bell’s 100 foot INVESTEC LOYAL, today’s challenge will provide some insight into what might be around the corner come Boxing Day. Olympic wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley, Roosters five-eighth Anthony Minichiello and Channel 9’s Karl Stefanovic will taste plenty of salt water and better understand the rigours of ocean racing when they join rugby legends and past participants, Phil Waugh and Phil Kearns, and the rest of the professional race crew for today’s SOLAS Big Boat Challenge. Former racing great and record breaking winner Neville Crichton will also join Anthony Bell’s loyal for SOLAS big boat race.
Peter Millard, co-owner of the 98 foot Lahana arrived back on a flight from the US yesterday and when told of today’s forecast, said, “Then we definitely need to go out training today.”
Two of Lahana’s 21-strong crew have flown in from Europe and a handful more have arrived from interstate to take part in the annual Harbour spectacle, with the largest yachts in town preparing for the 12.30pm start off Steele Point, Vaucluse.
“It’ll be good to have testing conditions today, but we won’t be taking any risks that might put a speed bump in our Rolex Sydney Hobart preparations,” said Millard. “We want to see a lot of pressure today and for the great race. We’re hoping for a southerly all the way to Hobart.”
Making her Australian debut in the race will be Victorian Rob Hanna’s recent acquisition, theTP52 Shogun. Hanna purchased the near-new former Audi Azzurra from Europe, where it has been successfully competing on the MedCup circuit. Hanna’s main intention is to beat the other Australian ownedTP52’s at major events, including Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan, which is also contesting the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge.
List of Entries
|5980||FUTURE SHOCK||Craig||Ellis||Elliott 57||1.3500|
|SYD100||INVESTEC LOYAL||Anthony||Bell||Elliott 100||1.911|
|10081||LAHANA||Millard/||Honan||Bakewell White 30m||1.683|
|AUS60000||LOKI||Stephen||Ainsworth||Reichel Pugh 63||1.517|
|SM11||SCARLET RUNNER||Robert||Date||RP 52||1.363|
|NOR2||SOUTHERN EXCELLENCE||Andrew||Wenham||Volvo 60||1.3200|
|SM24||TERRA FIRMA||Nicholas||Bartels||Cookson 50||1.327|
|10001||WILD OATS XI||Robert||Oatley||Reichel Pugh 100||1.954|
|M10||WILD THING||Grant||Wharington||Jones 98 Maxi||1.805|
To view the course maps go to http://www.cyca.com.au/editorial.asp?key=760
By Lisa Ratcliff/CYCA media