2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – 76 Years In The Making

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is an icon of summer sports, as no other annual yachting event in the world attracts so much media coverage.

The race is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and starts in Sydney, New South Wales on Boxing Day before finishing in Hobart, Tasmania. The distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km). The Tattersall Cup is awarded to the overall winner of handicap competitions based on the shape, length, weight and sail dimensions of the yacht. However, most attention is placed on the race for “line honours”  – the first boat to cross the finish line.

The race was originally planned to be a cruise by Peter Luke and his friends who together formed a club for those that enjoyed cruising over racing. However, a visiting British Royal Navy Officer, Captain John Illingworth, suggested the event be made a race and the rest is history. The Sydney Hobart Race has grown since the inaugural race and has become one of the top three offshore yacht races in the world.

Setting Records

The very first running of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race took place in 1945. There were nine starters and the winner was John Illingworth’s Rani, built in Speers Point, New South Wales. Rani completed the race in six days, 14 hours, and 22 minutes.

Following the inaugural race, records for the fastest time began to drop rapidly. Despite this, it took 21 years for the 1975 record set by Kialoa from the United States to be broken by Morning Glory from Germany in 1996 – only by a razor-close 29 minutes.

The Sydney to Hobart Race Record was crushed by Nokia in 1999, igniting renewed aspirations for the “Holy Grail” of the Sydney Hobart Race, a time under 40 hrs. With a time of one day, 19 hours, 48 minutes, Nokia was the first to complete the race in under two days. Accompanied by several other boats that finished under two days, skippers sought to become the first to finish under 40 hrs, earning the Holy Grail of the race.

The once thought impossible feat was eventually achieved in 2016 by Perpetual LOYAL, with a time of one day, 13 hours and 31 minutes, or 37 hours. However, this new record did not last long as the Holy Grail was achieved again by Comanche in 2017 with a time of one day, 9 hours and 15 minutes, or (33 hours).


Notable Achievements

The race has had no shortage of notable achievements over the years. Morna, from Sydney, was the first repeat winner after claiming victory in the second, third, and fourth races (1946-1948).

Kurrewa IV, under owners Frank and John Livingston from Victoria became the first to win four titles claiming victory in 1954, 1956, 1957, and 1960.

Other yachts to win three or more titles include:

  • Astor: 1961, 1963, and 1964
  • Bumblebee IV: 1979 and then as Ragamuffin in 1988 and 1990
  • Wild Oats XI: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018

Wild Oats XI set history with its third consecutive win in 2007 as it was the first yacht since Rani in the inaugural race to win line and handicap honors while breaking the race record in the same year.

In fact, 2007 was an eventful year. By the November race entry deadline, 90 yachts had nominated for entry. This included four 90-foot maxis, three of whom entered with the intention of preventing Wild Oats XI from making history and winning three line honours titles in a row. This was to no avail. Wild Oats VI came out victorious making history in the process.

Wild Oats VI was poised to make history again in 2008 as only one of the 113 nominated yachts was another 90-foot maxi. This came to pass and Wild Oats VI became the only yacht to win four consecutive line honours titles.

Women’s Participation

The active involvement of women has been a commendable positive since the race’s inception. In 1946, Jane Tate was the first woman to participate with her boat Active. She’s honoured by the Jane Tate Memorial Trophy which is awarded each year to the first female skipper to finish the race.

The first all-women crew sailed in 1975 with the boat Barbarian. Since 1946, over a thousand women have taken place in the race.

Track The 2020 Sydney To Hobart Race

Are you excited for the 2020 Sydney Hobart Race? Corleone Marinas certainly is — following the successful 75th running in 2019, this year’s event is sure to be another to remember. There will be a celebration for 75 years of women’s participation and two-handed sailing is being introduced ahead of its inclusion in the 2024 Olympic Games.

Reigning Tattersall Cup winner Ichi Ban is likely to return while the status of reigning line honours winner Comanche is uncertain after being sold. Sailing’s most desirable prize is up for grabs and can be claimed by anyone.

Online entry is now available on the official website. Entries close at 1700 hours on 29 October. You can follow the event with the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race Tracker.

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