Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

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Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
Sydney to hobart yacht race route.PNG
Map of the Sydney–Hobart Yacht Race route
First held1945
StartSydney, Australia
FinishHobart, Australia
Competitors102 (2017)
ChampionIchi Ban (on handicap)
LDV Comanche (line honours)
Most titlesFreya ; Love & War (3) (on handicap)
Wild Oats XI (9) (line honours)
TV partner(s)Seven Network
InfoTrack leads the fleet through Sydney Heads and south to Hobart in ideal, if smoky conditions at the start of the 75th Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in 2019

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is an annual event hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, New South Wales, on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart, Tasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).[1] The race is run in conjunction with the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, and is widely considered to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world.[2]

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 2019 race was the 75th edition.

Australia's foremost offshore sailing prize is the Tattersall's Cup, awarded to the ultimate winner of the handicap competitions based on the length, shape, weight and sail dimensions of the yacht. Much public attention however, focuses on the race for "line honours" – the first boat across the finishing line, typically the newest and largest Maxi yacht in the fleet.

In 2017, LDV Comanche set a new race record finishing in 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds, beating Perpetual Loyal's record of 1 day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds, set the previous year.[3] Wild Oats XI, who crossed the line first, received a 1-hour penalty for her role in a near-miss collision at the beginning of the race and disregard of the starboard rule, handing LDV Comanche line honours.[4] Wild Oats XI completed the course in an unofficial record time of 1 day, 08 hours, 48 minutes and 50 seconds.

Wild Oats XI has won line honours on 9 separate occasions (2005–2008, 2010, 2012–2014, 2018) and is the first boat to have claimed the treble – race record, line honours and overall winner.[5]


Investec Loyal about to win the 2011 Sydney to Hobart

Bass Strait, and the waters of the Pacific Ocean immediately to its east, are renowned for their high winds and difficult seas. Although the race mostly takes place in the Tasman Sea, the shallowness of Bass Strait and the proximity to the race course means that the fleet is very much under the influence of the Strait as they transit from the mainland to Flinders Island. 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 Flinders Island.

The inaugural race in 1945 had nine starters. John Illingworth's 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 United States to be broken by the German yacht Morning Glory in 1996, and then only by a dramatic 29 minutes, as she tacked up the Derwent River against the clock. 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 18 hr 40 min 10 sec.

Winning times for line honours from 1945 to 2019

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.[6] 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. In 2008, Wild Oats XI broke Morna's long-standing record of three titles in a row, by completing a four-in-a-row, the first yacht to achieve that remarkable achievement.[7] 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.

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, The Proving Ground.[8] A coronial enquiry into the race was critical of both the race management at the time and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.[9]

In 1999 the race record was broken by Nokia, a water-ballasted Volvo Ocean 60 (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.[10]

Sydney to Hobart entrants moored up at Rushcutters Bay, 25 December 2004

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.[11] 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 1982 Condor of Burmuda won the Sydney to Hobart (1981) which was the closest ever finish, winning by just seven seconds against Apollo IIIduring a gruelling match race up the River Derwent.

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.[12] 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.[6] 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.[6]

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, died on 23 September 2007 aged 92. His yacht, Wayfarer, still holds the record for the slowest elapsed time. One of two surviving sailors from the original race – Geoffrey Ruggles from the Wayfarer crew, died in July 2019,[13] leaving John Gordon from the Horizon crew.[14][unreliable source?]

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.[7] 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.[7]

Hobart's Constitution Dock is the arrival point for the fleet after they have completed the race, and usually witnesses scenes of celebration by many yachtsmen during the new year festivities.

On 3 November 2008 at the close of entries, 113 yachts had nominated for entry with only one other 90-foot maxi (Skandia) to challenge Wild Oats XI and stop it creating history by winning four consecutive line honours titles and becoming the only yacht to do so. Wild Oats XI achieved this and Bob Steel won his second Tattersalls Cup with Quest, the second yacht with the same name to win the handicap title.[7][15]

The 2009 fleet comprised 99 starters. In the 2008 race, Wild Oats XI had equalled Morna/Kurrewa IV 's record of three consecutive line honours victories, which Morna achieved in 1946, 1947 and 1948, and was attempting to pass the record in its own right in 2009.

In the event however, Neville Crichton's New Zealand entry Alpha Romeo II passed Wild Oats XI early on and never relinquished her lead, finishing in an elapsed time of 2 days, 9 hours, 2 minutes and 10 seconds. Wild Oats XI came in second and United Kingdom-based ICAP Leopard came in third.

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. Traditionally, crews of yachts celebrate on New Year's Eve at Constitution Dock in Hobart, with the Customs House Hotel a favourite venue for Sydney–Hobart yachtsmen.

The 2020 race was cancelled due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in Sydney's north. The Cruising Yacht Club said it was "unrealistic" to proceed with the race after the Tasmanian government declared Greater Sydney a "medium risk" zone, requiring all participants to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Tasmania. It will be the first time the race is not conducted in its 76-year history.[16]

Panorama of the 2007 Sydney–Hobart Yacht Race.

"Holy Grail"[edit]

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 less than two days for the first time – the "Holy Grail" of the Sydney–Hobart race, a completion of the course in a time under the 40 hr mark became a possibility. Many of the skippers competing in the Sydney-Hobart race in the 21st century have expressed a desire to be the first to record a time under the once thought of as impossible mark of 40 hrs. In 2017, the race record was set by LDV Comanche to one day, 9 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds.[17]

Women's involvement[edit]

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 in that 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[18] and was Australian Yachtswoman of the Year for 2004–05. In 2005 she was part of the crew for the winning Wild Oats.

In 2011, Jessica Watson, known for her solo unassisted sail around the world at age 16, skippered the Sydney Hobart yacht race with a crew of six other young Australians and three Britons all aged 21 or under, making them the youngest ever to compete in the blue water classic.

In 2018, skippered by Stacey Jackson, Ocean Respect Racing (on Wild Oats X) became the first fully professional all women's crew to compete in the Sydney Hobart.[19]

In total, over a thousand women have taken part in the race.[20]


The crew of 2005 winner Wild Oats XI.

The exact rules for the Tattersails Cup 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 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.[21] 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 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 yacht designer has been the New Zealand designer Bruce Farr, who has designed 15 overall winners.

Winners and fleet sizes[edit]


Year Line honours Elapsed time
Handicap winner Corrected time
fleet size
at start

at finish
1945 United Kingdom Rani 6/14:22 United Kingdom Rani 4/09:38 9 8
1946 New South Wales Morna 5/02:53:33 New South Wales Christina 4/11:53:27 19 11
1947 New South Wales Morna 5/03:03:54 Tasmania Westward 4/00:24:56 28 21
1948 New South Wales Morna 4/05:01:21 Tasmania Westward 3/07:45:48 18 13
1949 New South Wales Waltzing Matilda 5/10:33:10 New South Wales Trade Winds 3/23:39:43 15 13
1950 New South Wales Margaret Rintoul 5/05:28:35 South Australia Nerida 3/20:17:13 16 14
1951 New South Wales Margaret Rintoul 4/02:29:01 New South Wales Struen Marie 2/19:48:26 14 12
1952 New South Wales Nocturne 6/02:34:47 South Australia Ingrid 4/09:56:18 17 17
1953 New South Wales Solveig IV 5/07:12:50 New South Wales Ripple 3/16:12:12 24 20
1954 Victoria (Australia) Kurrewa IV (formerly Morna) 5:06:09:47 New South Wales Solveig IV 3/17:58:01 17 15
1955 New South Wales Even 4/18:13:14 New South Wales Moonbi 3/09:21:05 17 16
1956 Victoria (Australia) Kurrewa IV (formerly Morna) 4:04:31:44 New South Wales Solo 3/08:33:52 28 26
1957 Victoria (Australia) Kurrewa IV (formerly Morna) 3:18:30:39 New South Wales Anitra V 3/00:55:37 20 18
1958 New South Wales Solo 5/02:32:52 New South Wales Siandra 3/13:46:35 22 19
1959 New South Wales Solo 4/13:33:12 New South Wales Cherana 3/08:33:02 30 24
1960 Victoria (Australia) Kurrewa IV (formerly Morna) 4:08:11:15 New South Wales Siandra 3/07:48:04 32 30
1961 New South Wales Astor 4/04:42:11 New South Wales Rival 3/03:57:31 35 33
1962 United States Ondine 3/03:49:16 New South Wales Solo 2/12:45:14 42 40
1963 New South Wales Astor 4/10:53:00 New South Wales Freya 3/06:03:17 44 34
1964 New South Wales Astor 3/20:05:05 New South Wales Freya 3/05:58:14 38 31
1965 South Africa Stormvogel 3/20:30:09 New South Wales Freya 3/10:03:26 53 49
1966 New Zealand Fidelis 4/08:39:43 New South Wales Cadence 4/02:46:24 46 44
1967 France Pen Duick III 4/04:10:31 New Zealand Rainbow II 3/16:39:15 66 59
1968 United States Ondine II 4/03:20:02 New South Wales Koomooloo 3/13:38:52 67 54
1969 United Kingdom Crusade 3/15:07:40 United Kingdom Morning Cloud 3/04:25:57 79 75
1970 New Zealand Buccaneer 3/14:06:12 New South Wales Pacha 3/10:07:39 61 47
1971 United States Kialoa II 3/12:46:21 New Zealand PathFinder 3/03:14:34 79 76
1972 United States American Eagle 3/04:42:39 United States American Eagle 3/02:15:59 79 75
1973 New South Wales Helsal 3/01:32:09 Hong Kong Ceil III 2/17:28:28 92 92
1974 United States Ondine III 3/13:51:56 New South Wales Love & War 3/13:25:02 63 58
1975 United States Kialoa III 2/14:36:56 Western Australia Rampage 2/13:16:56 102 99
1976 New South Wales Ballyhoo 3/07:59:26 New South Wales Piccolo 3/07:45:07 85 70
1977 United States Kialoa III 3/10:14:09 United States Kialoa III 3/13:58:10 131 72
1978 New South Wales Apollo 4/02:23:24 New South Wales Love & War 3/12:13:00 97 87
1979 New South Wales Bumblebee IV 3/01:45:52 Tasmania Screw Loose 3/03:31:06 147 142
1980 New Zealand New Zealand 2/18:45:41 New Zealand New Zealand 2/21:13:29 102 93
1981 New South Wales Vengeance 3/22:30:00 New South Wales Zeus II 3/19:25:59 159 144
1982 Bermuda Condor of Bermuda 3/00:59:17 New South Wales Scallywag 2/19:19:16 118 108
1983 Bermuda Condor 3/00:50:29 Victoria (Australia) Challenge II 2/23:07:42 173 158
1984 New Zealand New Zealand 3/11:31:21 New South Wales Indian Pacific 3/07:45:03 151 46
1985 New South Wales Apollo 3/04:32:28 New South Wales Sagacious 3/04:34:37 179 146
1986 Bermuda Condor 2/23:26:25 New South Wales Ex Tension 3/01:14:30 123 106
1987 New South Wales Sovereign 2/21:58:08 New South Wales Sovereign 3/01:58:41 154 146
1988 New South Wales Ragamuffin (formerly Bumblebee IV) 3/15:29:27 Victoria (Australia) Illusion 3/18:20:35 119 81
1989 Western Australia Drumbeat 3/06:21:34 Victoria (Australia) Challenge II 3/02:18:45 126 101
1990 New South Wales Ragamuffin (formerly Bumblebee IV) 2/21:05:33 New South Wales Sagacious V (IOR)
Tasmania Doctor Who (IMS)
105 86
1991 Australian Capital Territory Brindabella 3/11:14:09 New South Wales She's Apples (IMS)
Republic of Ireland Atara (IOR)
99 91
1992 New Zealand New Zealand Endeavour 2/19:19:18 New South Wales Assassin (IMS)
New South Wales Ragamuffin (IOR)
110 102
1993 New South Wales Ninety Seven 4/00:54:11 New South Wales Micropay Cuckoos Nest (IMS)
New South Wales Solbourne Wild Oats (IOR)
104 38
1994 Tasmania Tasmania (formerly New Zealand Endeavour) 2/16:48:04 Germany Raptor (IMS) 2/11:41:00 371 309
1995 United States Sayonara 3/00:53:35 Victoria (Australia) Terra Firma 3/10:22:36 98 92
1996 Germany Morning Glory 2/14:07:10 Victoria (Australia) Ausmaid 2/12:35:59 95 77
1997 Australian Capital Territory Brindabella 2/23:37:12 Hong Kong Beau Geste 2/17:21:27 114 99
1998 United States Sayonara 2/19:03:32 New South Wales AFR Midnight Rambler 2/12:36:23 115 44
1999 Denmark Nokia 1/19:48:02 New South Wales Yendys 1/20:32:53 79 49
2000 Sweden Nicorette II 2/14:02:09 South Australia SAP Ausmaid (formerly Ausmaid) 2/19:13:38 82 58
2001 Sweden Assa Abloy 2/20:46:43 New South Wales Bumblebee V 2/19:13:38 75 57
2002 New Zealand Alfa Romeo I 2/04:58:52 New South Wales Quest 2/19:13:38 57 55
2003 Victoria (Australia) Skandia 2/15:14:06 New South Wales First National Real Estate 3/14:14:17 56 52
2004 New South Wales Nicorette III 2/16:00:44 United Kingdom Aera (IRC) 4/02:52:09 116 59
2005 New South Wales Wild Oats XI 1/18:40:10 New South Wales Wild Oats XI 3/03:54:32 85 80
2006 New South Wales Wild Oats XI 2/08:52:33 New South Wales Love & War 3/22:02:37 78 69
2007 New South Wales Wild Oats XI 1/21:24:32 United States Rosebud 3/09:32:14 82 79
2008 New South Wales Wild Oats XI 1/20:34:14 New South Wales Quest II 2/17:43:32 100 92
2009 New Zealand Alfa Romeo II 2/09:02:10 South Australia Two True 4/07:57:43 100 94
2010 New South Wales Wild Oats XI 2/07:37:20 South Australia Secret Men's Business 3.5 4/01:29:40 87 69
2011 New South Wales Investec Loyal 2/06:14:18 New South Wales Loki 3/22:34:32 88 76
2012 New South Wales Wild Oats XI 1/18:23:12 New South Wales Wild Oats XI 3/10:26:31 76 71
2013 New South Wales Wild Oats XI 2/06:07:27 New South Wales Victoire 3/18:27:43 94 84
2014 New South Wales Wild Oats XI 2/02:30:00 New South Wales Wild Rose (formerly Solbourne Wild Oats) 3/07:04:43 117 103
2015 United States Comanche 2/08:58:30 New South Wales Balance V (formerly Quest II) 4/07:27:13 108 77
2016 New South Wales Perpetual LOYAL 1/13:31:20 New Zealand Giacomo 2/16:13:37 88 83
2017 Australia Comanche 1/09:15:24 New South Wales Ichi Ban 2/12:13:31 102 96
2018[23] New South Wales Wild Oats XI 1/19:07:21 New South Wales Alive 3/06:41:16 85 79
2019[24] Australia Comanche 1/18:30:24 New South Wales Ichi Ban 3/04:11:05 157 154[25]
2020 Race cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.[16]


  • Time in bold denotes new race record time.
  • No first place in 1985. Drake's Prayer was disqualified after winning on handicap, but 1985 NOR did not allow for lower placed finishers to move up following a disqualification.
  • In the years 1990–1993 the winner of each of the IMS and IOR classes were declared the joint handicap winners. From 1994 to 2003 the IMS handicap rule was used to determine the overall winner, and from 2004 the IRC rule has been used.
  • The 1975 Kialoa III was a ketch rig which was modified in 1976 and returned as a sloop to win line honors and overall in 1977.
  • Apollo in 1978 and 1985 were different yachts.
  • New Zealand in 1980 and 1984 were different yachts.

Records and statistics[edit]

Wild Oats XI, the 2005–2008, 2010, 2012–2014, 2018 line honours winner, and 2005 and 2012 handicap honours winner about to finish the 2011 Sydney to Hobart
A graph of Sydney Hobart starters and finishers from 1945 to 2018
  • Inaugural Race Winner, 1945: Rani (line and handicap honours as well as the inaugural race record)
  • Fastest Race: 1 day 9h 15m 24s (LDV Comanche, NSW), 2017[26]
  • Total fleet: 5,509 yachts (81.01 yachts per race)
  • Fleet finishing statistics: Of 5,509 yachts who have started the race since 1945, a total of 4,548 (82.56%) have completed and 961 (17.44%) yachts have retired.
  • Highest retirement %: 70% of the fleet in 1984. On average after 62 races, 81.7% of the fleet finishes annually.
  • Largest Fleet: 371 starters, 1994
  • Smallest Fleet: 9 starters, 1945 (first race)
  • 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 Yachts Entered: 100 ft (30.48m) – Wild Oats XI (NSW, 2009–2018), Black Jack (formerly Alfa Romeo) (QLD, 2009, 2017–2018), Scallywag (formerly Investec LOYAL/Ragamuffin 100) (NSW, 2009–2016, 2018), ICAP Leopard (UK, 2009), Rapture (USA, 2009), Wild Thing (VIC, 2013), Infotrack (formerly Perpetual LOYAL) (NSW, 2013–2018), Rio 100 (USA, 2014), Comanche (NSW, 2014–2015, 2017–2018) and CQS (NSW, 2016).
  • Largest Yacht Line Honours Winner: 100 ft (30.48m) – Alfa Romeo (NZ) 2009, Wild Oats XI (NSW) 2010, 2012–14, 2018 Investec LOYAL (NSW) 2011, Comanche (USA) 2015,2017, Perpetual LOYAL (NSW) 2016.
  • Most Line Honours Victories: Wild Oats XI, 9 victories
  • Most Line Honours Victories by skipper: Mark Richards (New South Wales) Australia, 9 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 2008 aged 76. The 9.1-metre yacht was restored by Sean Langman
  • Most races by skipper: 49 Tony Cable (New South Wales), 44 John Bennetto (Tas – dec), Lou Abrahams (Vic).
  • Race treble: Race record, Line & Handicap Honours in the same year:
  • Double: Line & Handicap Honours in the same year:
    • 1945, Rani (UK);
    • 1972, American Eagle (USA);
    • 1977, Kialoa III (USA);
    • 1980, New Zealand (NZ);
    • 1987, Sovereign (NSW);
    • 2005, 2012 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, 2007, 2008.
  • 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 Honours: 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)
  • Oldest Known Competitors:
  • Youngest Known Competitors (Prior to the 1999 age minimum of 18 years):
  • 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), Ray White Koomooloo (2006) and Georgia (2008).
  • 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.

Sponsors, supporters and prizes[edit]

Rolex has been the naming rights sponsor of the race since 2002.[27] Other sponsors of the race include Appliances Online, Nortel Networks[28] and TasPorts.[29]

It generally costs each of the major contenders for line honors millions of dollars to equip themselves for the race, however there is no prize money. The only award is a Rolex watch from the race sponsor for the fastest and handicap winning yacht captains. Entrants compete for the honor of the title.

The winner under IRC is awarded the Tattersalls Trophy.

In popular culture[edit]

The race features in the 2007 novel The Storm Prophet by Hector Macdonald.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race". About. Archived from the original on 12 July 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  2. ^ "Tough legacy of a Sydney classic". BBC News. 29 December 2001. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Standings – Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2017". Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  4. ^ Vindin, Nick (28 December 2017). "Sydney to Hobart: Comanche wins line honours as protest against Wild Oats XI upheld". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Wild Oats XI wins Sydney to Hobart and sets new race record". The Daily Telegraph. 28 December 2012.
  6. ^ a b c "View Condensed Results". Archived from the original on 19 August 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d "The requested URL was not found on this server". Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  8. ^ Knecht, G. Bruce (2001). The Proving Ground: The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race. Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown, and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-49955-2.
  9. ^ "1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race - Deaths at Sea".
  10. ^ Riviera, Larry. "Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race". Archived from the original on 20 September 2005. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  11. ^ "2004 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race – Nicorette Wins Line Honors".
  12. ^ "Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race". Archived from the original on 20 September 2005. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  13. ^ "Vale Geoff Ruggles - one of two surviving men from first Sydney Hobart Yacht Race". Mysailing. 1 August 2019. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  14. ^ From conversation with Geoffrey Ruggles, 9/1/2013
  15. ^ "Wild Oats XI takes back to back line honours". 28 December 2006. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  16. ^ a b "Sydney to Hobart yacht race cancelled due to NSW coronavirus outbreak". ABC News. 19 December 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  17. ^ "Sydney-Hobart 2016: Perpetual Loyal smashes Wild Oats' race record". CNN.
  18. ^ "Cahalan gets top yachtswoman nod". The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 October 2004.
  19. ^ Clarey, Christopher (25 December 2018). "Libby Greenhalgh Keeps Her Eye on the Weather for Wild Oats X". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Heinrich, Karen (January 2006). "Taking to the sea". The Australian Women's Weekly. p. 230.
  21. ^ "ROLEX SYDNEY HOBART YACHT RACE 2005" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 December 2005. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  22. ^ "ROLEX SYDNEY HOBART YACHT RACE WINNERS - 1945-2005" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 January 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  23. ^ Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2018, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, retrieved 31 December 2018
  24. ^ Comanche claims Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 28 December 2019
  25. ^ Standings Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
  26. ^ "Standings – Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2017". Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  27. ^ "Rolex extends naming rights sponsorship of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race to 2015".
  28. ^ "Offshore's NorTel Sydney to Hoboard Official Race Issue" (PDF). Offshore Magazine. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  29. ^ "Links". Archived from the original on 25 August 2012.

External links[edit]