The Sydney to Hobart 2010 by Patrick 'Tenpin' Bollen - Ludde Ingvall’s 90-footer YuuZoo heading for Hobart, 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart.

From the Houses of Parliament to the boardrooms of global enterprise, the stages of theatre and screen, the arenas of sport, the offices of commerce and industry, professional, business and the many trades … the men and women who compete in the great Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race come from an array of backgrounds.
People like the late former UK Prime Minister, Edward Heath, News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch and son Lachlan, Oracle Corporation co-founder Larry Ellison and Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom, the late Graham ‘Shirley’ Strachan of Skyhooks fame, rugby greats Phil Kearns and Phil Waugh, yachting legends Syd Fischer and Lou Abrahams, and disabled sailors Brett Pierce and Kirk Watson.
They also come from a diverse spectrum of socio economic groups. But they all have one thing in common – they thrive on the sheer pleasure, pure joy, discomfort and sometimes the uncertainty of the challenge and adventure of competing in what is widely regarded as the toughest ocean race on the planet.
So after a life of ocean conquests perhaps the most famous name of all is going to step up to the mark for the first time.
Regarded as sailing royalty, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston will join the crew of Titania of Cowes, a beautiful Swan 68 owned by Englishman and clubmate Richard Dodds for his inaugural taste of what this notorious course can dish up.
Between 14 June 1968 and 22 April 1969, Knox-Johnston created seafaring history becoming the first person to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world in a scruffy little yacht named Suhaili winning the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race.
Knox-Johnston twice won the Two Handed Round Britain Race. Firstly with Les Williams in 1970 and in 1974 with Gerry Boxall.
In 1977 he co-skippered Heath’s Condor (Condor of Bermuda, 1982 Hobart line honours winner) to victory in the Whitbread Round World Race and in 1994 with the late Sir Peter Blake won the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe completing the passage in 74 days 22 hours 18 minutes.
Knighted in 1995 Knox-Johnston completed his second solo circumnavigation of the world in 2007 with Saga Insurance. He was 68.
Wild Oats XI  Bob Oatley/Mark Richards.Now aged 71 he is going to tackle the toughest of them all. To a man so seasoned and well credentialed as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston the Hobart might just be a walk in the park or should that be, just another day at the office.
“The Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race is seen as one of the world’s great classic yacht races but how can you discuss it intelligently unless you have completed it,” said Knox-Johnston.
Ninety nine entries have been received by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
“This is encouraging and I am delighted with the standard and quality of this years fleet,” said CYCA Commodore Garry Linacre.
Five super maxis will contest the race for line honours but the overall winner could come from any number of highly competitive starters.
“I think it will be a terrific event,” he added.
The big guns including the current record holder Wild Oats XI (Bob Oatley/Mark Richards); Yuuzoo (Ludde Ingvall); 2003 line honours winner, Wild Thing (Grant Wharington); Investec Loyal (Sean Langman) and Lahana (Peter Millard/John Honan) will all be hoping for ideal conditions in order to break the race record.
Wild Oats XI seems like a natural choice to win line honours though nothing should ever be taken for granted in the Sydney to Hobart. Almost anything can happen and it usually does.
Richards is quietly confident Wild Oats XI can win line honours again and, if the weather is right, the five-year race record of 1d 18h 14m 10s will tumble.
Ran leads Investec Loyal, YuuZoo and Lahana at the turning mark before heading out of Sydney Harbour, 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart.“We’ll see what happens,” said Richo. “It’s always a lottery. We’ll be in good shape on Boxing Day and we’re looking forward to a competitive tussle.”
So you think picking the handicap winner is easy. About as easy as picking the winner of the Melbourne Cup.
It’s not until Boxing Day that anyone can really measure the calibre of the fleet. As the yachts head south everything is determined by the weather, the forecasts and the outlook.
This year’s fleet presents some very handy competitors indeed.
The best include Syd Fischer’s TP52 Ragamuffin, Living Doll (Michael Hiatt), Shogun (Robert Hanna) and Wedgetail (Bill Wild).
The most recognised name in Australian yachting, Fischer is consistent and always at the front of the fleet.
David Pescud, the founder of Sailors with Disabilities recently took delivery of his latest yacht called Wot Eva. Formerly the TP52 Wot Yot.
“The boat was donated to Sailors with Disabilities by Graeme Wood. I am humbled by this extremely generous gesture. He is an amazing guy. I can only say that it’s truly wonderful to experience men like Graeme who have compassion for his countrymen especially those with disabilities who want to experience the sport of sailing and competing on the water,” Pescud said.
“Wot Eva is a terrific boat. Totally opposite to my previous yacht. She was like a V8 Commodore, this boat is Formula 1.
“My crew of 14 to Hobart include seven disabled lads. We expect to do well and hope to be competitive with Ragamuffin, Living Doll and Wedgetail. As always it will be a great test of skill and seamanship.”
The most exciting contest will be a thrilling showdown between Niklas Zennstrom’s Ran, Alan Brierty’s Limit and the best performer Australia this year, Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki.
Loki and Limit are Reichel Pugh design 63-foot near sisterships while Ran is a Judel Vrojilk 72 Bruce Farr design.
Ran recently won the Mini Maxi World Championships in Sardinia and last year won the Fastnet Race while Loki this year hasn’t put a foot wrong winning Hamilton Island Race Week, the Cabbage Tree Island Race, the Gold Coast Race and most recently the Flinders Island Race in record time.
“This is going to be the best Hobart contest in a long time,” said Loki helmsman Gordon Maguire. Last year’s IRC winner Two True  (Andrew Saies) from South Australia.“Three great boats all capable of causing an upset. The Ran program is the most professional campaign outside of the America’s Cup. They have an unlimited budget and you can bet Zennstrom and his crew including Tim Powell, Steve Hayles and Adrian Stead aren’t coming all this way to finish second.
“If they have an Achilles heel it will be the weather. They don’t have Bass Strait experience in bad conditions.
“Limit is also a highly competitive operation. Brierty and his crew including Gavin Brady and the well regarded Kiwi Chris Dickson will be throwing everything at this race in order to beat us and Ran on corrected time. I am looking forward to terrific contest,” Maguire said.
From the biggest to the smallest the contest is much the same. The only difference being the time it takes to get to Constitution Dock.
Niklas Zennstrom’s Vrojilk 72  Ran recently won the Mini Maxi World Championships in Sardinia and last year won the Fastnet Race.Middle Harbour yachtsman Gordon Ketelby will be sailing his eighth Hobart this year with his Sydney 38, Zen.
“I do this race every two years. Each time I finish I swear I’ll never do it again but the Hobart has a certain attraction. Whatever the attraction, it continues to bring many of us back each year,” Ketelby said.
“It’s a tough event. A race for tough people. Certainly not one for the faint hearted. I am looking forward to a competitive race particularly with the legendary Victorian yachtsman Lou Abrahams and Another Challenge. I think we have the boat and the crew who can win particularly in division.”
Abrahams has twice won the Hobart. In 1983 with Challenge and again in 1989 with Ultimate Challenge.
Other Sydney 38s heading for Constitution Dock include Steven Proud’s Swish, Eleni (Tony Levett), Shining Sea (Andrew Corletto), Obsession and from Melbourne, Mille Sabords.
Past winners and familiar faces are making a return for another stint at the world’s toughest ocean passage race including the little Laurie Davidson design 34 footer Illusion, winner of the 1988 race. Andrew Wenham has mustered together a very keen crew aboard the Volvo 60 Southern Excellence and Ron and Craig Ellis are returning to the fray with the downhill slider, Future Shock.
Alan Brierty’s former Limit, a Corby 49 now called Vamp owned by CYCA Commodore Garry Linnacre and past Commodore David Fuller will be raced to Battery Point by a Russian team led by Russian Dragon Class champion Mikhail Muratov.
Muratov will co-skipper Vamp with two-time winner of the great race south, Roger Hickman (in 1993 with Wild Oats and 2000 with Sap Ausmaid).
Last year’s winner Two True (Andrew Saies) from South Australia has entered in a bid to repeat his 2009 performance and defend his title.
The 66th sailing of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race has attracted a strong international entry with crews from the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France, Hong Kong and Russia lining up on Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day to challenge the demanding and often gruelling 628 nautical mile course to the apple isle’s quaint and beautiful capital city on the banks of the Derwent River at the foot of the precipitous grandeur of Mount Wellington.
Interestingly there are no entries this year from New Zealand. A first for a very long time. What’s goin on Kiwi?
All that’s left now is days of practice, preparation and training. Gear, sail and rigging checks, navigation and tactics planning.
Safe passage to all. Let the race begin.

Correction

Thank you to Barry Stach, Commodore, Darwin Sailing Club who points out that third place getter in Hamilton Island Race Week’s Cruising Division 2 was Mango Madness skippered by Bo Wharton and representing the DARWIN Sailing Club (not Derwent). It is the third time he has competed at this regatta and his most successful to date.       Patrick Bollen.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2010 List of entries