The starting cannon will be fired again on Boxing Day for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s (CYCA) 2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The world-renowned 628-nautical-mile blue water classic will go ahead after a lengthy period of consultation with state governments, health authorities and other key stakeholders. The opening of Tasmania’s borders to New South Wales travellers this coming Friday 6 November has made the race a reality.
CYCA Commodore Noel Cornish AM was delighted to confirm that the event would be going ahead:
“We are thrilled to have so many yachts participating this year, particularly given the general uncertainty and necessary restrictions placed on many sporting events in Australia over the past six months. The size of the fleet has exceeded all our expectations and is a tremendous show of support for the race. We are excited that we can host the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in this challenging year.
“Whilst 2020 has been a very difficult year for all Australians due to the impact of COVID-19, we feel that it is important for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and the sailing world to help support the various governments' goals to assist economic recovery and help communities return to some sense of normality within strict health and safety guidelines.
“We would like to sincerely thank the Governments of New South Wales and Tasmania, their associated health, police and maritime departments, events and tourism authorities, local councils and all our media and corporate partners for their continued support.”
Entries officially closed last Thursday 29 October with 100 boats looking to head south.
Unfortunately, representation from many international competitors has not been possible this year due to ongoing global restrictions. The CYCA’s thoughts are with the offshore sailing community around the globe and the club looks forward to welcoming all sailors, families and support crews back in 2021.
An array of returning yachts are amongst likely contenders for the Tattersall Cup which honours the overall winner on handicap, including previous winners Ichi Ban (2017 and 2019), Alive (2018) and Quest (2008 and also 2015 as Balance). Competition from a sizeable fleet of other yachts in the 50- to 70-foot range will be strong.
Should this year’s conditions favour smaller yachts, the likes of Solveig (overall winner in 1954), and Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race winners Chutzpah (2018) and White Bay Azzurro (2017 as Komatsu Azzurro), will give the bigger boats a strong nudge for podium placings.
The super maxis, InfoTrack (line honours 2016 as Perpetual Loyal) and Black Jack (2009 as Alfa Romeo) will do battle for line honours to claim the John H Illingworth Challenge Cup.
Importantly, there are an impressive number of yachts entered to compete in the newly introduced Two-Handed division of the Rolex Sydney Hobart, with a perpetual trophy being introduced to honour the division’s overall winner.
This year will also celebrate the 75th year of participation by women sailors in the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Female crews will be significantly represented across all divisions, including six skippers: Wendy Tuck (Speedwell), Tiare Tomaszewski (Maris), Annie Lawrence (Solveig), Sibby Ilzhofer (Dare Devil), Genevieve Warlow (Dodgeball) and Jiang Hui Lin (Min River).
The safety, health and well-being of all participants, families and broader communities has always been the major focus for the CYCA and its race partner, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
A number of significant changes will be made to the event this year. More focus will be on enhanced digital coverage of the race and all team briefings will be undertaken online. The social events and parties usually held at the CYCA in the lead up to the race in December will not be taking place this year and there will be restrictions imposed across the clubhouse and marina, spectator fleets and gatherings at public vantage spots for the race start on 26 December. The Hobart Race Village and its associated festivities will be restructured in line with the best practice recommendations from authorities with the village and marina closed to the general public.
New guidelines and regulations regarding COVID-19 safety, tracking and social distancing are being constantly reviewed and appropriate measures will be strictly adhered to as required.