The race was initially planned to be a cruise by Peter Luke and some friends who had formed a club for those who enjoyed cruising as opposed to racing, however when a visiting British Royal Navy Officer, Captain John Illingworth, suggested it be made a race, the event was born. The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race has grown over the decades, since the inaugural race in 1945, to become one of the top three offshore yacht races in the world and it now attracts maxi yachts from all around the globe. The 2004 race marked the 60th running of the event. The current race record was set in 2005 by Wild Oats XI, which crossed the line in a time of 1 day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds. www.abc.net.au
The longest surviving skipper from the inaugural race, Peter Luke, who contributed to the formation of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and the establishment of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, passed away on 23 September 2007 aged 92, the last of the original sailors who pioneered this event. His yacht, Wayfarer, still holds the record for the slowest elapsed time.
The inaugural race in 1945 had nine starters. Rani, built in Speers Point, New South Wales was the winner, taking six days, 14 hours and 22 minutes. Race records for the fastest (elapsed) time dropped rapidly. However, it took 21 years for the 1975 record by Kialoa from the USA to be broken by the German yacht Morning Glory in 1996, and then only by 29 minutes. In 1999 Denmark's Nokia sailed the course in one day, 19 hours, 48 minutes and two seconds, a record which stood until 2005 when Wild Oats XI won line and handicap honours in 1 day 18h 40 m 10s.
There have been some notable achievements by yachts over the years. Sydney yacht, Morna, won the second, third and fourth races (1946 - 1948) and then, under new owners Frank and John Livingston from Victoria, took a further four titles as Kurrewa IV in 1954, 1956, 1957 and 1960. Other yachts to win three or more titles are Astor (1961, 1963 and 1964)and Bumblebee IV firstly in 1979 and then again in 1988 and 1990 as Ragamuffin. When Wild Oats XI won back-to-back titles in 2006, it was the first yacht to do so since Astor in the 1960s. Wild Oats XI claimed its third consecutive line honours title in the 2007 race, re-writing history by being only the second yacht after Rani in the inaugural 1945 race to win line and handicap honours and break the race record in the same year (2005) and then only the second yacht after Morna to win three line honours titles in a row. For the handicap race the highly respected Halvorsen brothers' Freya won three titles back-to-back (the only yacht in history to do so) between 1963 and 1965. Although not consecutive, Love & War equalled Freya's three titles by winning its third in 2006 to add to its 1974 and 1978 titles.
Sailors who have achieved outstanding commitment to the race are represented most of all by John Bennetto (dec), Lou Abrahams and Tony Cable who, after the 2007 race, had each sailed 44 races. Skippers Frank and John Livingston won four line honours titles while Claude Plowman, Peter Warner, S.A "Huey" Long, Jim Kilroy and Bob Bell have each won three. Trygve and Magnus Halvorsen have won four handicap honours titles while a number of skippers have won two handicap titles.
Rolex has been the naming rights sponsor of the race since 2002, and since then the race has been known as the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. It will continue to have the naming rights until 2010.
Bass Strait, and the waters of the Pacific Ocean immediately to its east, are renowned for their high winds and difficult seas. Even though the race is held in the Australian summer, "southerly buster" storms often make the Sydney-Hobart race cold, bumpy, and very challenging for the crew. It is typical for a considerable number of yachts to retire, often at Eden on the New South Wales south coast, the last sheltered harbour before the Bass Strait crossing.
The 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race was marred by tragedy when, during an exceptionally strong storm (which had similar strength winds to a lower-category hurricane), five boats sank and six people died. Of the 115 boats that started, only 44 made it to Hobart. As a result, the crew eligibility rules were tightened, requiring a higher minimum age and experience. G. Bruce Knecht wrote a book about this race called "The Proving Ground". (ISBN-10: 0316499552) A coronial enquiry into the race was critical of both the race management at the time and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
In 1999 the race record was broken by Nokia, a water-ballasted VO60 yacht. She sailed the course in 1 day, 19 hours, 48 minutes and 2 seconds. Brindabella reached Hobart just under one hour later (1 day, 20 hours, 46 minutes, 33 seconds) and Wild Thing was a close third (1 day, 21 hours, 13 minutes, 37 seconds). The previous Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race record had been set by Morning Glory (2 days, 14 hours, 7 minutes, 10 seconds) in 1996.
In 2004 only 59 yachts completed the course of the 116 who set out from Sydney. Storms hit the race. The super maxi Skandia capsized after losing her keel.
In 2005, Wild Oats XI became the first boat since Rani to win the "treble," taking Line Honours, winning the Corrected Handicap (IRC), and breaking the course record. (1d 18h 40 m 10s, over 1hr off of Nokia's record.)
In 2006, 78 boats started the race, including entrants from the United Kingdom, Canada, The Netherlands, Italy, New Zealand, every Australian state and the Australian Capital Territory. The race started on schedule at 13:00 Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time Wild Oats XI, owned by Bob Oatley and skippered by Mark Richards, crossed the finish line at 21:52 on 28 December 2006 to take line honours with an elapsed time of 2 days, 8 hours, 52 minutes and 33 seconds. Wild Oats XI became the first yacht to win the race in consecutive years since 1964 and only the sixth yacht to achieve this since the race's inception. Love & War, owned by Peter Kurts and skippered by Lindsay May, won the race overall (IRC Handicap) in a corrected time of 3 days, 22 hours 2 minutes and 37 seconds. Love & War became only the second yacht to win the race three times (1974, 1978 and 2006). The yacht Freya won the race in three consecutive years between 1963 and 1965. Gillawa from the Australian Capital Territory, skippered by David Kent, was the sixty-ninth and last boat to complete the 2006 race, making it the third consecutive year that the yacht was last in the fleet.
By the November 2007 race entry deadline, 90 yachts had nominated for entry including four 90-foot maxis, three of them wanting to prevent Wild Oats XI creating history and winning three line honours titles in a row. A little over a week prior to the race, New Zealand maxi Maximus withdrew after cracking its keel. Three-time and 2006 handicap winner, Love & War, was not one of the applications for entry and may have raced her last Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in 2006. Wild Oats XI went on to create history by winning its third consecutive line honours title and becoming only the second yacht to do so. Rosebud (USA) won the race on corrected time. John Walker became the oldest skipper in the history of the race at age 85 and Phillip's Foote Witchdoctor bettered its own record and set a mark of 27 races as the most by a yacht.
Much public attention focuses on the race for "line honours" - the first boat across the finishing line, typically the newest and largest "maxi" in the fleet. There is also a handicap competition, a race for what is regarded as Australia's foremost offshore sailing prize the Tattersalls Cup. The exact rules for the handicap trophy have changed over the years. In general, each boat's time is adjusted on the expected speed of the boat based on its size and other characteristics. The International Offshore Rules were superseded by the International Measurement System (IMS), and the International Rule Club 2000 (IRC) For 1991, 1992 & 1993 races, the winners of the IOR and IMS categories were both declared Overall winners during the transition from IOR to IMS. However, the Tattersalls Cup was awarded only to the Overall IOR winner during this period. Since 1994 there has been only one Overall winner, from 1994 to 2003 being decided using IMS, but from the 2004 onwards the Overall winner of the Tattersalls Cup has been decided using IRC, with IMS dropped altogether as a handicap system In theory, this should make for an even competition between yachts of all sizes, however in practice often only the newest and most advanced boats (regardless of size) can sail fast relative to their rating. In addition, in a race of the length of the Sydney-Hobart weather conditions after the maxi yachts have finished can often determine whether they will win on handicap - if the winds become more favourable after they finish, they will lose on handicap, if they become less favourable they will win.
For the 2005 race, the event organisers have removed certain restrictions on the boats. As successful sailing is based on a good power to weight ratio, larger sails are expected to help break race records.
|Year||Line Honours|| LH (Elapsed) Time |
|Handicap Winner|| HW (Corrected) Time |
|2007||Wild Oats XI (NSW)||1:21:24:32||Rosebud (USA)||3:9:32:14||82||79|
|2006||Wild Oats XI (NSW)||2:08:52:33||Love & War (NSW)||3:22:02:37||78||69|
|2005||Wild Oats XI (NSW)||1:18:40:10*||Wild Oats XI (NSW)||3:03:54:32||85||80|
|2004||Nicorette (NSW)||2:16:00:44||Aera (UK)||4:02:52:09||116||59|
|2003||Skandia (Vic)||2:15:14:06||First National Real Estate (NSW)||3:14:14:17||56||52|
|2002||Alfa Romeo (NSW)||2:04:58:52||Quest (NSW)||2:19:13:38||57||55|
|2001||Assa Abloy (Sweden)||2:20:46:43||Bumblebee V (NSW)||2:19:13:38||75||57|
|2000||Nicorette||2:14:02:09||SAP Ausmaid (formerly Ausmaid)(SA)||2:19:13:38||82||58|
|1999||Nokia (Denmark)||1:19:48:02*||Yendys (NSW)||1:20:32:53||79||49|
|1998||Sayonara (USA)||2:19:03:32||AFR Midnight Rambler (NSW)||2:12:36:23||115||44|
|1997||Brindabella (NSW)||2:23:37:12||Beau Geste (Hong Kong)||2:17:21:27||114||99|
|1996||Morning Glory (USA)||2:14:07:10*||Ausmaid (Vic)||2:12:35:59||95||77|
|1995||Sayonara (USA)||3:00:53:35||Terra Firma (Vic)||3:10:22:36||98||92|
|1994||Tasmania (formerly New Zealand Endeavour)(Tas)||2:16:48:04||Raptor (Germany)||2:11:41:00||371||309|
|1993||Ninety Seven (NSW)||4:00:54:11||Micropay Cuckoos Nest (IMS)(NSW) / Solbourne Wild Oats (IOR)(NSW)||3:18:45:10 / 3:20:36:30||104||38|
|1992||New Zealand Endeavour (New Zealand)||2:19:19:18||Assassin (IMS)(NSW) / Ragamuffin (IOR)(NSW)||3:10:50:11 / 2:21:21:4||110||102|
|1991||Brindabella (ACT)||3:11:14:09||She's Apples (IMS)(NSW) / Atara (IOR)(Ireland)||3:15:19:20 / 2:20:5:11||99||91|
|1990||Ragamuffin (formerly Bumblebee IV)||2:21:05:33||Sagacious V (IOR)(NSW) / Doctor Who (IMS)(Tas)||2:19:44:32 / 2:10:6:28||105||86|
|1989||Drumbeat (WA)||3:06:21:34||Ultimate Challenge (Vic)||3:02:18:45||126||101|
|1988||Ragamuffin (formerly Bumblebee IV)(NSW)||3:15:29:27||Illusion (Vic)||3:18:20:35||119||81|
|1987||Sovereign (NSW)||2:21:58:08||Sovereign (NSW)||3:01:58:41||154||146|
|1986||Condor (Bermuda)||2:23:26:25||Ex Tension (NSW)||3:01:14:30||123||106|
|1985||Apollo (NSW)||3:04:32:28||Sagacious (NSW)||3:04:34:37||179||146|
|1984||New Zealand (New Zealand)||3:11:31:21||Indian Pacific (NSW)||3:07:45:03||151||46|
|1983||Condor (Bermuda)||3:00:50:29||Challenge II (Victoria)||2:23:07:42||173||158|
|1982||Condor of Bermuda (Bermuda)||3:00:59:17||Scallywag (NSW)||2:19:19:16||118||108|
|1981||Vengeance (NSW)||3:22:30:00||Zeus II (NSW)||3:19:25:59||159||144|
|1980||New Zealand (New Zealand)||2:18:45:41||New Zealand (New Zealand)||2:21:13:29||102||93|
|1979||Bumblebee IV (NSW)||3:01:45:52||Screw Loose (Tas)||3:03:31:06||147||142|
|1978||Apollo (NSW)||4:02:23:24||Love and War (NSW)||3:12:13:00||97||87|
|1977||Kialoa II (formerly Kialoa III)(USA)||3:10:14:09||Kialoa II (formerly Kialoa III)(USA)||3:13:58:10||131||72|
|1976||Ballyhoo (NSW)||3:07:59:26||Piccolo (NSW)||3:07:45:07||85||70|
|1975||Kialoa III (USA)||2:14:36:56*||Rampage (WA)||2:13:16:56||102||99|
|1974||Ondine III (USA)||3:13:51:56||Love and War (NSW)||3:13:25:02||63||58|
|1973||Helsal (NSW)||3:01:32:09||Ceil III (Hong Kong)||2:17:28:28||92||92|
|1972||American Eagle (USA)||3:04:42:39||American Eagle (USA)||3:02:15:59||79||75|
|1971||Kialoa II (USA)||3:12:46:21||PathFinder (New Zealand)||3:03:14:34||79||76|
|1970||Buccaneer (New Zealand)||3:14:06:12||Pacha (NSW)||3:10:07:39||61||47|
|1969||Crusade (UK)||3:15:07:40||Morning Cloud (UK)||3:04:25:57||79||75|
|1968||Ondine II (USA)||4:03:20:02||Koomooloo (NSW)||3:13:38:52||67||54|
|1967||Pen Duick III (France)||4:04:10:31||Rainbow II (New Zealand)||3:16:39:15||66||59|
|1966||Fidelis (New Zealand)||4:08:39:43||Cadence (NSW)||4:02:46:24||46||44|
|1965||Stormvogel (South Africa)||3:20:30:09||Freya (NSW)||3:10:03:26||53||49|
|1964||Astor (NSW)||3:20:05:05||Freya (NSW)||3:05:58:14||38||31|
|1963||Astor (NSW)||4:10:53:00||Freya (NSW)||3:06:03:17||44||34|
|1962||Ondine (USA)||3:03:49:16*||Solo (NSW)||2:12:45:14||42||40|
|1961||Astor (NSW)||4:04:42:11||Rival (NSW)||3:03:57:31||35||33|
|1960||Kurrewa IV (formerly Morna)(Vic)||4:08:11:15||Siandra (NSW)||3:07:48:04||32||30|
|1959||Solo (NSW)||4:13:33:12||Cherana (NSW)||3:08:33:02||30||24|
|1958||Solo (NSW)||5:02:32:52||Siandra (NSW)||3:13:46:35||22||19|
|1957||Kurrewa IV (formerly Morna) (Vic)||3:18:30:39*||Anitra V (NSW)||3:00:55:37||20||18|
|1956||Kurrewa IV (formerly Morna) (Vic)||4:04:31:44||Solo (NSW)||3:08:33:52||28||26|
|1955||Even (NSW)||4:18:13:14||Moonbi (NSW)||3:09:21:05||17||16|
|1954||Kurrewa IV (formerly Morna) (Vic)||5:06:09:47||Solveig IV (NSW)||3:17:58:01||17||15|
|1953||Solveig IV (NSW)||5:07:12:50||Ripple (NSW)||3:16:12:12||24||20|
|1952||Nocturne (NSW)||6:02:34:47||Ingrid (SA)||4:09:56:18||17||17|
|1951||Margaret Rintoul (NSW)||4:02:29:01*||Struen Marie (NSW)||2:19:48:26||14||12|
|1950||Margaret Rintoul (NSW)||5:05:28:35||Nerida (SA)||3:20:17:13||16||14|
|1949||Waltzing Matilda (NSW)||5:10:33:10||Trade Winds (NSW)||3:23:39:43||15||13|
|1948||Morna (NSW)||4:05:01:21*||Westward (Tas)||3:07:45:48||18||13|
|1947||Morna (NSW)||5:03:03:54||Westward (Tas)||4:0:24:56||28||21|
|1946||Morna (NSW)||5:02:53:33*||Christina (NSW)||4:11:53:27||19||11|
|1945||Rani (UK)||6:14:22 (no seconds recorded)*||Rani (UK)||4:9:38 (no seconds recorded)||9||8|
Another Australian offshore race is the Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race run by the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria. Known as the West Coaster, this race arrives in Hobart around the same time as the more famous Sydney-Hobart.
In 2005, 24 women took part, including Adrienne Cahalan, who is famed for her around-the-world sailing, has been nominated several times for World Yachtswoman of the Year and was Australian Yachtswoman of the Year for 2004-05. In 2005 she was part of the crew for the winning Wild Oats.
In total, over a thousand women have taken part in the race.