North Sails NEWS


Gearing Up for the 75th Edition

Sydney Hobart start 2018, Carlo Borlenghi
📸 Carlo Borlenghi

With more than 160 boats registered and more than 1,000 crew members ready to take on the iconic 628nm offshore sprint from Sydney to Hobart, excitement is now spilling onto the docks as we count down the last few days before the start of the race (December 26, 1:00 pm local time). This race is watched by sailors all over the world, because it’s a true test of ability and perseverance. See how you can follow the race below.

Boats we’re following

Line honours contestants Wild Oats and BlackJack will be going head to head with Scallywag. In the ORC fleet, Matt Allen’s TP52 Ichi Ban took 5th place last year and won overall in 2017, so she’s another contender for the overall regatta win. Expect a battle with Barry Cuneo’s Envy Scooters, which last year was put together in haste and this year will include several young guns in the crew aiming to be the Tattersall Cup winners. Christian Beck’s InfoTrack*, Noel Cornish’s St Jude, Paul Buchholz’s Extasea, and Frederic Puzin’s Daquet (previously Patrice) are all expected to do well in their respective fleets.  Additional clients of interest include Keiran and Elizabeth Mulcahy’s King 40 Soozal. Soozal had a refit in November and will be joined by three additional family members for the race to Hobart. Mark Hipgrave’s short-handed experienced crew onboard Jeanneau SunFast 3600 Mister Lucky shows a lot of potential. Helmed by Deb Fish, her goal is to be the top female to cross the finish line.

Katwinchar, built in 1904, will be the oldest boat ever to compete in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart. Over the last two years, owner Bill Barry-Cotter has rebuilt this 32-footer, and along with his team of Murray Spence, Michael Spie, and Kendal Barry-Cotter, he’s ready to race. We look forward to seeing this Corinthian team cross the finish line in Hobart.

Weather predictions

The last few races have rewarded boats that thrive off the wind. North expert and Sydney local Alby Pratt says, “we’re overdue for an upwind race, so anything can happen!” If the fleet does see tighter sheeting angles, Scallywag, BlackJack, and Quest will all have the chance to extend on the fleet thanks to their North Helix Code Sails.

This year’s race forecasting has been complicated by Sydney’s ring of brush fires, which reduced visibility so much on Sydney Harbour that the Big Boat Challenge was cancelled. Fire alarms have been triggered in homes and buildings downtown, and ferries cancelled. Despite ongoing concerns, the Bureau of Meteorology indicates that conditions for the start should be clear, with a north-northeast wind that builds and shifts south. This will make the start a battle of crewwork—who can pull of the smoothest transitions. There is no way to predict what exactly will be the outcome, but some can hope that conditions may give the smaller yachts in the race a chance to shine.

While once the ‘holy grail’ for racing from Sydney to Hobart was to complete the course in less than two days, this year the record to beat is one day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, and 24 seconds. Along with you, we’ll be tracking the fleet’s progress. Good luck to all!

How to follow

  • Be at the epicenter of the main event. Race villages are set up in Sydney and in Hobart to catch the beginning and the end of the race
  • Australia’s Local Network 7 News will be broadcasting a 90 minute program starting at 12:30 AEST on Boxing Day. Tune in!
  • If you are not in AEST, check for live news announcements at
  • Track the entire fleet, or just one boat. See how fast different teams are sailing and how far they have to go to the finish line using the fleet tracker app.
  • If you’ve got a boat, get out on the water for a front row seat to all the action. Just remember to stay clear of the exclusion zone.
  • Want to participate in the race, but from the comfort of your own home? Compete with Virtual Race! Sign up to compete here.


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