simple ex-tension

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

For the current edition of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, see: 2007 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (sometimes referred to as the 'Bluewater Classic' in the Australian media) is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, Australia on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart. The race distance is approximately . The race is run in co-operation with the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

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.

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.

Traditionally, crews of yachts celebrate on New Year's Eve at Constitution Dock in Hobart.

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.

Official Race Results - 2006

Holy Grail

With the smashing of the Sydney-Hobart Race Record in 1999 by Nokia, and a host of other super-fast boats, that completed the course in under 2 days for the first time - the Holy Grail of the Sydney-Hobart race, a completion of the course in a time under the 40hr mark became a possibility, rather than an improbability, for the first time. Many of the skippers competing in the Sydney-Hobart race in recent years have expressed a desire to be the first to record a time under the once thought of as impossible mark of 40hrs, and with the right conditions it becomes a tantalisingly close possibility to strive for.


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.

The race is conducted under the Racing Rules of Sailing determined and published by the International Sailing Federation.

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.


The fleet comprises mostly sloops, that is yachts with a single mast on which is hoisted a fore-and-aft rigged mainsail and a single jib or genoa, plus extras such as a spinnaker.

The race has encouraged innovation in yacht design. Between 1945 and 2005, the most successful Boat & ship designers has been the New Zealand designer Bruce Farr, who has designed 15 overall winners.

Winners & Fleet Sizes

Year Line Honours LH (Elapsed) Time
Handicap Winner HW (Corrected) Time
fleet size
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

  • * Denotes new race record time
  • In the years 1990-1993 the winner of each of the IMS and IOR classes were declared the join handicap winners.
  • Kialoa II in 1971 is a different yacht than Kialoa III/Kialoa II which won in 1975 and 1977. The 1975 Kialoa III was modified and, oddly, renamed Kialoa II, which won line honours in 1977.
  • Apollo in 1978 and 1985 were different yachts;
  • New Zealand in 1980 and 1984 were different yachts;
  • Condor of Bermuda (1982) and Condor (1983 and 1986) were different yachts;
  • Brindabella in 1991 and 1997 were different yachts; and
  • Nicorette in 2000 and 2004 were different yachts.

Records and Statistics

  • Inaugural Race Winner, 1945: Rani (line and handicap honours as well as the inaugural race record)
  • Fastest Race: 1 day 18h 40m 10s by Wild Oats XI (NSW) 2005
  • Smallest Fleet: 9 starters, 1945 (first race)
  • Total fleet: 5,058 yachts (80.29 yachts per race)
  • Fleet finishing statistics: Of 5,058 yachts who have started the race since 1945, a total of 4,145 (81.94 have completed and 913 (18.06%) yachts have retired.
  • Highest retirement %: 70% of the fleet in 1984. On average after 62 races, 81.7% of the fleet finishes annually.
  • Smallest Yacht: 27 ft (8.23m) Klinger (NSW) 1978
  • Smallest Yacht Line Honours Winner: 35 ft (10.67m) - Nocturne (NSW) 1952 and Rani (UK) 1945.
  • Largest Fleet: 371 starters, 1994
  • Largest Yachts Entered: Skandia (Vic, AUS, 2003-7), Zana/Konica Minolta (NZ, 2003-2005), Wild Oats XI (NSW, 2005-7), Alfa Romeo (NSW, Aus, 2005), Maximus (NZ, 2006) and City Index Leopard (UK, 2007).
  • Largest Yacht Line Honours Winner: 30 m Skandia, Victoria Australia, 2003 and Wild Oats XI, NSW, Australia, 2005-07
  • Most Line Honours Victories: Morna/Kurrewa IV (Morna was later renamed Kurrewa IV), NSW/Vic, 7 victories
  • Most Line Honours Victories by skipper: Frank and John Livingston (Victoria) Australia, 4 victories
  • Most Handicap Honours Victories: Freya (NSW) and Love & War (NSW), 3 victories each
  • Most Handicap Honours Victories by skipper: Magnus and Trygve Halvorsen (NSW) Australia, 4 victories
  • Oldest competitor: Maluka was built in 1932 and raced in 2006 aged 74. The 9.1 metre yacht was restored by Sean Langman
  • Most races by skipper: 44 John Bennetto (Tas - dec), Lou Abrahams (Vic) and Tony Cable (NSW).
  • Race treble: Race record, Line & Handicap Honours in the same year:
    • 1945, Rani (UK); and
    • 2005, Wild Oats XI (NSW).
  • Double: Line & Handicap Honours in the same year:
    • 1945, Rani (UK);
    • 1972, American Eagle (USA);
    • 1977, Kialoa II (USA);
    • 1980, New Zealand (NZ);
    • 1987, Sovereign (NSW);
    • 2005, Wild Oats XI (NSW);
  • Back-to back Line Honours titles:
    • Morna (NSW) 1946, 1947 and 1948;
    • Margaret Rintoul (NSW) 1950 and 1951;
    • Kurrewa IV (Formerly Morna) Vic 1956 and 1957;
    • Solo (NSW) 1958 and 1959;
    • Astor (NSW) 1963 and 1964; and
    • Wild Oats XI (NSW) 2005, 2006 and 2007.
  • Back-to back Handicap Honours titles:
    • Freya (NSW) 1963, 1964 and 1965;
    • Westward (Tas) 1947 and 1948.
  • Closest Line Honours Race Finish: 7 seconds, 1982; Condor of Bermuda (Bermuda) defeated Apollo (NSW)
  • Closest finish for Handicap Honurs: 1 minute and 43 seconds also in 1982 when Scallyway (NSW, Australia) defeated Audacity (NSW, Australia)
  • Yachts winning Line Honours to be later disqualified: Wild Wave (1953), Nirvana (1983) and Rothmans (1990)
  • Yachts to win Handicap Honurs to be later disqualified: Drake's Prayer (1985)
  • Most Successful Yacht Designer: Bruce Farr (NZ), 15 overall winners
  • First known female sailors: Jane Tate and Dagmar O’Brien (both in 1946). O'Brien's yacht (Connella) retired, thus Tate has the honour of being the first female to complete the event and a trophy is now named in her honour.
  • First all-female crewed Yacht: Barbarian, 1975 (skipper: Vicki Wilman)
  • Most Races for one Woman: 15 by Adrienne Cahalan (AUS); (navigator for 2000 winner Nicorette)
  • Worst Disaster: 1998, 6 sailors died and 5 yachts sunk; 115 yachts started but only 43 finished.
  • Sunken Yachts: Clywd (1993), Adjuster (1993), Winston Churchill (1998), VC Offshore Stand Aside (1998), Sword of Orion (1998), Miintinta (1998), Midnight Special (1998) and Ray White Koomooloo (2006).
  • Yachtsmen to have lost their lives: Mike Bannister (Winston Churchill, 1998), Glyn Charles (Sword of Orion, 1998), Ray Crawford (Billabong, 1988), John Dean (Winston Churchill, 1998), Bruce Guy (Business Post Naiad, 1998), Jim Lawler (Winston Churchill, 1998), Wally Russell (Yahoo II, 1984), John Sarney (Inca, 1973), Phillip Skeggs (Business Post Naiad, 1998), Peter Taylor (BP Flying Colours, 1989) and Hugh (Barry) Vallance (Zilvergeest III, 1975)

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.

Women's involvement

Women first participated in the race in 1946. The first woman to take part was Jane Tate, whose boat Active was the only one to reach Hobart in 1946. Dagmar O'Brien, with boat Connella, also took part this year but retired from the race before finishing. Thus, the Jane Tate Memorial Trophy is awarded each year to the first female skipper to complete the race. In 1975, the first all-women crew sailed, with boat Barbarian. In 1982 or 1983, Sue Bowly put another all-female crew together, but the sails ripped. They repaired the sails on the Navy's sewing machine at Jervis Bay, and carried on to Hobart, but no longer in competition.

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.



External links

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