Rolex Big Boat Racing Series (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )_0220

Rolex Big Boat Racing Series (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )


A year after the contest for the 34th America’s Cup, world-class sailing is still alive and well on San Francisco Bay. In fact, for the last four days (Thursday, September 11 through Sunday, September 14), the 50th Anniversary edition of the Rolex Big Boat Series has hosted hundreds of sailors on 99 teams, rotating onto three strategically-placed race circles that triangulated the constant wind and tide challenges of the largest Pacific estuary in the Americas. Having developed stadium sailing long before the America’s Cup made it a local colloquialism, the St. Francis Yacht Club ensured fast fun for spectators as well as competitors by designing each day’s second race (always sailed in a blustering afternoon breeze) to finish within cheering distance of the clubhouse’s famous second-story race deck that commands attention east to Alcatraz Island and west to a sun-drenched, or alternately fog-enshrouded, Golden Gate Bridge.

After all was sailed and done, victors were named in ten classes (ORR, HPR, BAMA/Multihull, J/70, J/105, J/111, J/120, Melges 24, Express 37, Farr 40), and six prestigious St. Francis Yacht Club trophies and seven Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner timepieces were awarded.

Perhaps most appreciative of the Rolex and the trophy (the Richard Rheem Perpetual) he had earned was Alex Roepers (New York, N.Y.) in the Farr 40 class. Like the other 14 Farr 40 teams here, his Plenty is preparing for the class’s World Championships in October, also to be hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club. Plenty, which won the Farr 40 North Americans in May, finished with a point score of 13, a whopping 24 points ahead of 2013 Farr 40 World Champion Enfant Terrible, skippered by Italy’s Alberto Rossi. “There is a lot of improvement, still, that we can make,” said the native Dutchman, who secured the Farr 40 circuit championship title with his performance here as well, “but clearly we are on a trajectory and a mission to do really well at the Worlds.” Having last sailed on the Bay here in 1996, Roepers said it was all he remembered it to be. “It is one of the most spectacular venues in the world. The breeze is so “on,” the vistas are incredible, and with the organization of the St. Francis Yacht Club, this is an absolutely outstanding event.”

Farr 40 Class Manager Geoff Stagg said that when seven more Farr 40s join the fleet in October, the cumulative talents onboard will be mind boggling: “You can see it on the water already – the experience of the crews here, with several of the tacticians coming from the last America’s Cup (case in point: Terry Hutchinson aboard Plenty and Ray Davies aboard Wolfgang Schaefer’s Struntje Light). They spent a year or more here learning the Bay inside-out, so they know it better than any local.”

After a mediocre start in the HPR class’s first race, Whiplash improved steadily and stayed consistently in the top three for the remainder of the week, a performance skipper Donald Payan (Hillsborough, Calif.) attributes to the strength of his team. “One of the big reasons I race this boat is because of these guys,” said Payan, gesturing towards his team. “They work so hard at getting the most out of this boat, and we’re going faster than ever before. The boat is great, and I really enjoy racing in HPR, as the competition was really tough this week.” Whiplash took home the City of San Francisco Trophy and the Rolex watch for its performance.

The oldest trophy for this 50-year-old event is the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy, and it was awarded, along with the Rolex, to the winner of ORR, Wayne Koide’s (San Enselmo, Calif.) Sydney 36 Encore, which led its class from day one.

Dorian McKelvy’s (Portola Valley, Calif.) Madmen looked to be the favorite in the J/111 class for the Atlantic Perpetual Trophy and the Rolex, but after two days of leading, the team succumbed to Rob Theis’s (Los Altos, Calif.) Aeolus, which wound up only one point ahead of Madmen in the final standings.

Kame Richards’ (Alameda, Calif.) Golden Moon, a perennial favorite in the Express 37 Class, did not disappoint this year, winning six out of seven races to claim the Keefe-Kilborn Perpetual Trophy and a Rolex watch.

The J/105s made up the largest fleet this year, and Bruce Stone’s (San Francisco) Arbitrage held the lead every day, earning the team the Commodore’s Cup plus the Rolex watch. “This is the toughest fleet in the country I think,” said Stone, who missed winning last year by a narrow margin. “We felt that the courses were really interesting compared to the past, and St. Francis Yacht Club did a really excellent job,” he said. “For us, it was all about keeping the boat moving with all the lulls and gusts and changing of conditions and tides.”

In J/120s, a tight race between David Halliwill’s (New York N.Y.) Peregrine and Barry Lewis’s (Atherton, Calif.) Chance tilted to Peregrine’s favor for the Rolex watch that was awarded in that class.

Don Jesberg’s (Belvedere, Calif.) Viva and Any Costello’s (Point Richmond, Calif.) Double Trouble topped the scoreboard all week in the Melges 24 and J/70 Class, respectively.

Tom Seibel’s (Redwood City, Calif.) MOD70 Orion made a strong rebound from its third-place finish last year, winning the Multihull Class, which was introduced to the event two years ago. To make sense of how fast the 70-foot trimaran was flying, Orion’s Navigator Peter Isler explained, “Johnny Heineken was keeping pace with us the whole day.” (Heineken, a Kiteboard Courseracing World Champion is seen almost daily, kitefoiling on the Bay.)

Isler, an America’s Cup veteran and California native who grew up racing on San Francisco Bay, added, “I don’t go back 50 years, but I go back a long time with the Rolex Big Boat Series, and when people ask me ‘Where is the best place you’ve ever sailed,’ San Francisco always comes to mind. I love the tradition of racing and of St. Francis, and of course we’ve been on a non-traditional boat the last few years, but that is cool, too!”

Full details on the 2014 Rolex Big Boat Series, including a link to entries can be found at Find us on Facebook at Rolex Big Boat Series, and follow on Twitter @bigboatseries. For daily video recaps by T2PTV, visit
Rolex Big Boat Series
September 11-14, 2014

Place, Yacht Name, Type, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points

HPR (HPR – 7 Boats)
1. Whiplash, MC 38, Donald Payan, Hillsborough, CA, USA – 4, 2, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2; 18
2. Hamachi, J/125, Greg Slyngstad, Sammamish, WA, USA – 5, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3; 19
3. Beecom, TP 52, Anatole Masfen, Auckland, NZL – 6, 8/DNF, 4, 1, 1, 1, 1; 22

J/70 (One Design – 13 Boats)
1. Double Trouble, Andy Costello, Point Richmond, CA, USA – 8, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2; 17
2. Perfect Wife, Chris Andersen, Pt. Richmond, CA, USA – 5, 3, 6, 2, 4, 7, 4; 31
3. 1FA, Geoff McDonald, San Francisco, CA, USA – 7, 7, 1, 8, 3, 3, 3; 32

J/105 (One Design – 19 Boats)
1. Arbitrage, Bruce Stone, San Francisco, CA, USA – 1, 3, 2, 1, 1/RDG, 5, 4; 17
2. Blackhawk, Scooter Simmons, Tiburon, CA, USA – 5, 1, 3, 5, 5, 1, 1; 21
3. Godot, Phillip Laby, San Francisco, CA, USA – 2, 2, 1, 8, 1, 10, 3; 27

J/111 (One Design – 7 Boats)
1. Aeolus, Rob Theis, Los Altos, CA, USA – 6, 3, 2, 4, 1, 1, 3; 20
2. Madmen, Dorian McKelvy, Portola Valley, CA, USA – 2, 1, 3, 1, 5, 8, 1; 21
3. Big BLAST!, Roland Vandermeer, Hillsborough, CA, USA – 5, 2, 1, 3, 6/SCP, 2, 4; 23

J/120 (One Design – 7 Boats)
1. Peregrine, David Halliwill, New York, NY, USA – 4, 1, 4, 1, 2, 1, 1; 14
2. Chance, Barry Lewis, Atherton, CA, USA – 2, 2, 3, 2, 5, 2, 3; 19
3. Julian, Yasuhide Kobayashi, Tokyo, JPN – 1, 6, 5, 3, 1, 4, 4; 24

Melges 24 (One Design – 9 Boats)
1. Viva, Don Jesberg, Belvedere, CA, USA – 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 10/DNS; 16
2. Nothing Ventured, Duane Yoslov, Corte Madera, CA, USA – 7, 4, 3, 3, 5, 2, 1; 25
3. Insolent Minx, Zhenya Kirueshkin-Stepanoff, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA – 2, 2, 2, 2, 6, 5, 10/DNS; 29

Farr 40 (One Design – 15 Boats)
1. Plenty, Alex Roepers, New York, NY, USA – 2, 1, 3, 1, 1, 1, 1, 3; 13
2. Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi, Ancona, ITA – 4, 2, 8, 13, 2, 2, 4, 2; 37
3. Groovederci, John Demourkas, Santa Barbara, CA, USA – 5, 4, 2, 2, 10, 5, 10, 1; 39

Express 37 (One Design – 7 Boats)
1. Golden Moon, Kame Richards, Alameda, CA, USA – 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2; 8
2. Expeditious, Bartz Schneider, Crystal Bay, NV, USA – 3, 2, 3, 2, 2, 2, 1; 15
3. Elan, Jack Peurach, San Francisco, CA, USA – 7, 4, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4; 26

SF Bay ORR (ToT – 10 Boats)
1. Encore, Sydney 36, Wayne Koide, San Anselmo, CA, USA – 1, 1, 2, 4, 3, 3, 1; 15
2. BustinLoose, Sydney 38, Jeff Pulford, Salinas, CA, USA – 2, 3, 3, 1, 4, 2, 4; 19
3. Tupelo Honey, Elan 40, Gerard Sheridan, San Francisco, CA, USA – 4, 4, 1, 3, 2, 4, 2; 20

Multihull (BAMA) (ToT – 5 Boats)
1. Orion, MOD70 , Tom Siebel, Redwood City, CA, USA – 4, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1; 10
2. SmartRecruiters, Extreme 40, Jerome Ternynck, San Francisco, CA, USA – 1, 3, 2, 3, 2, 2, 2; 15
3. Shadow, ProSail 40, Peter Stoneberg, Tiburon, CA, USA – 3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 3, 3; 19

 Past New York Yacht Club Commodore Charles Townsend’s FIDELIO took first place in Classics Class 2 for Part I of Race Week FIDELIO, Sail Number: 351, Owner/Skipper: Charles Townsend, Class: Classic Rating Formula - Class 2, Yacht Type: S&S 39, Home Port: Middletown, RI, USA (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

Past New York Yacht Club Commodore Charles Townsend’s FIDELIO took first place in Classics Class 2 for Part I of Race Week
FIDELIO, Sail Number: 351, Owner/Skipper: Charles Townsend, Class: Classic Rating Formula – Class 2, Yacht Type: S&S 39, Home Port: Middletown, RI, USA
(Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

After sailing in fresh breezes Saturday, 26 pristine classic yachts, divided into four classes, were faced with challenging 20-25 knot winds on Sunday that determined their overall positions in Part I of New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex. The biennial event, in its ninth edition, is known for its split format whereby IRC, PHRF and One-Design Racing sailors will get their shot at the action during Part II, scheduled for this Wednesday through Saturday (July 16-19).

Wrapping up Part I with impressive first-place finishes across the board were Gunther Buerman’s (Newport, R.I.) New Zealand (KZ-3) in 12 Metre Class and past New York Yacht Club Commodore Charles Townsend’s (Middletown, R.I.) Sparkman & Stephens 39 Fidelio in Classics Class 2 (Spinnaker).

“I think that this was the breeziest two-day regatta that we’ve participated in, at least in a long time, but Fidelio likes the heavier winds, so this was our weekend,” said Townsend, adding that all classes on both days raced north of Newport’s Pell Bridge on Narragansett Bay. “I think the lighter-air boats were struggling more during this regatta, and the heavier-air boats were struggling less; however, all of us struggle when it gets over 20 knots like it did today!  For the final race of the day, Fidelio was really on her ear; seldom does she heel over like that.”

The S-Class, the oldest one-design class still actively racing and sailing in its original boats, certainly felt the power of the wind today, as five of the eight boats competing either did not finish or did not compete in the second and final race. “It was an interesting weekend with lots of ups and downs,” said Walter Bopp (Greenwich, Conn.) who luckily experienced more “ups.” His Mischief won the class overall, despite starting prematurely (and restarting) in two of the four series races.  “Today was quite rough in terms of wind, but we worked as a team and hung in there,” said Bopp. “This is a great event to compete in. The New York Yacht Club Race Committee really runs some first-class racing.”

Due to today’s brisk conditions, the Race Committee was able to make a seat-of-the-pants decision to send the Classics Class 1 (Non-Spinnaker) on an 18-mile course around Prudence Island. (The class had yesterday sailed two Navigator Courses, using government marks, while the others raced around-the-buoys.) Jed Pearsall’s (Newport, R.I.) 50-foot P Class Sloop Chips took first place in the race and claimed overall victory in the class, as well. “We have never raced around Prudence Island before, so I think it was good, because nobody had a home-court advantage,” said Pearsall, a Race Week veteran. “What was great was that our entire fleet was so close in distance throughout the entire race. It made the competition really exciting; we have had a fantastic day and a fantastic weekend.”

For results and photos, visit Nightly videos produced by are available on the website and at after each day of racing. For more information, contact NYYC Racing Director Brad Dellenbaugh at or (401) 845-9633. “Like” us on the NYYC Regattas Facebook page and use official event hashtag #NYYCRaceWeek when posting on social media platforms.
12 Metres LAURA, VICTORY and INTREPID during Part I of Race Week LAURA, Sail Number: KZ5, Owner/Skipper: Kip Curren, Class: Classics - One Design, Yacht Type: 12 Metre, Home Port: Warwick, RI, USA VICTORY 83, Sail Number: K 22, Owner/Skipper: Dennis Williams, Class: Classics - One Design, Yacht Type: 12 Metre, Home Port: Hobe Sound, FL, USA INTREPID, Sail Number: US 22, Owner/Skipper: Jack Curtin, Class: Classics - One Design, Yacht Type: 12 Metre, (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

12 Metres LAURA, VICTORY and INTREPID during Part I of Race Week
LAURA, Sail Number: KZ5, Owner/Skipper: Kip Curren, Class: Classics – One Design, Yacht Type: 12 Metre, Home Port: Warwick, RI, USA VICTORY 83, Sail Number: K 22, Owner/Skipper: Dennis Williams, Class: Classics – One Design, Yacht Type: 12 Metre, Home Port: Hobe Sound, FL, USA INTREPID, Sail Number: US 22, Owner/Skipper: Jack Curtin, Class: Classics – One Design, Yacht Type: 12 Metre, (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

(Top-three Results Follow)
Place, Yacht Name, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points
Classics – Class 1 (non-spinnaker) (CRF – 5 Boats)
1. Chips, Jed Pearsall , USA – 1, 3, 1, ; 5
2. Angelita, Skelsey / Croll , USA – 2, 1, 2, ; 5
3. Black Watch, Trevor Fetter , USA – 3, 2, 6/DNF, ; 11
Classics – Class 2 (spinnaker) (CRF – 7 Boats)
1. Fidelio, Charles Townsend , USA – 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 4
2. Belle, Jonathan Loughborough , USA – 3, 2, 2, 3, ; 10
3. Vixen (spin), Andrew Norris , USA – 5, 5, 3, 2, ; 15
12 Metres (One Design – 5 Boats)
1. New Zealand (GP), Gunther Buerman , USA – 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 4
2. Victory 83, Dennis Williams , USA – 2, 2, 5, 4, ; 13
3. KZ5 Laura (GP), Kip Curren , USA – 6/OCS, 3, 4, 2, ; 15
Herreshoff S Class (One Design – 8 Boats)
1. Mischief, Walter Bopp , USA – 5, 2, 2, 2, ; 11
2. OSPREY, Michael McCaffrey , USA – 2, 3, 1, 9/DNF, ; 15
3. Aquila, Geoffrey Davis , USA – 3, 1, 3, 9/DNF, ; 16

Photos of the New York Yacht Club Race Week Classic Racing by Rolex/Daniel Forster

New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex 2014

LINE HONOURS WINNER WILD OATS XI  Crew on the rail (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

LINE HONOURS WINNER WILD OATS XI Crew on the rail (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

While not the record-setting pace, Wild Oats XI still made her indelible mark in the record books, taking the line honours win at the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Close reaching up the Derwent River, the 100-footer crossed the finish line off Battery Point in Hobart, at 7:07pm local time (AEDT). Wild Oats’ elapsed time of 2 days, 6 hours, 7 minutes, 27 seconds gave sWild Oats XIkipper Mark Richards and crew their seventh line honours win, which ties the record held by the yacht Morna/Kurrewa IV.

Thousands of spectators lined the shore and docks of Constitution Dock and neighboring piers on a beautiful summer’s evening to cheer Wild Oats XI as their crew tied up to the dock. Stepping ashore, a tired looking Mark Richards said, “It was all hard…a lot of testing conditions, a lot of light air and mentally very draining. We had a bit of everything that was the great thing about it.



Greatest thrill of my
Bob Oatley – Wild Oats XI owner

“This is one of the best wins you could probably have. There’s a lot of new competition and a lot of anxiety, no one hadany idea how we were going to go against each other. To sail away from these guys throughout the race was pretty amazing.” Wild Oats XI owner, Australian winemaker Bob Oatley, joined Richards ashore and exclaimed, “Greatest thrill of my life…seven!”

Following was a dockside presentation where skipper Mark Richards and owner Bob Oatley were presented with the JJ Illingworth Trophy and a Rolex timepiece as the first yacht to finish.

WILD OATS XI, Sail No: 10001, Bow No: XI, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards, Design: Reichel Pugh 30 Mtr, LOA (m): 30.5, State: NSW off Tasman Island

WILD OATS XI, Sail No: 10001, Bow No: XI, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards, Design: Reichel Pugh 30 Mtr, LOA (m): 30.5, State: NSW off Tasman Island

The Reichel/Pugh-designed boat, built in 2005, showed itself as still competitive in this year’s race, up against the toughest fleet ever assembled – which included 100-footers Perpetual Loyal and Ragamuffin 100, Volvo 70s Giacomo and Black Jack, and the newly launched 80-footer, Beau Geste. Richards said “To see a nearly nine-year old boat like this perform against the greatest and latest ocean racing boats in the world is pretty impressive.”

Ian Burns, Wild Oats’ strategist recalled a key part of the race, “The first night proved to be a huge parking lot for us and a lot of boats cleverly maneuvered through that, and really gave us quite a hard time to catch up. Luckily we had quite light conditions, which I don’t think suits them (Perpetual Loyal) anywhere near as well as us. We were able to chip away slowly, you know a 1/10th of a mile at a time.  Just after we got past them we came into a really light zone of wind and we managed to keep going – and they got parked up in the same zone and lost a huge amount of distance there.

“It started off (first day) if you were in front, you sort of lost to the guys behind you; but the second half of the race, once you got in front you got richer and richer, the wind got stronger, and more shift to you. We were able to leverage that pretty heavily and make some steady gains right through the whole race right down to Tasman.”

Perpetual LOYAL (Photo by Rolex /  Daniel Forster)

Perpetual LOYAL (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal was second across the finish line with a time of 2 days, 9 hours, 19 minutes, 56 seconds. Bell is familiar with the front of the fleet – the skipper took line honours in the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race on his previous boat Investec Loyal. That boat, now in the hands of Syd Fischer as Ragamuffin 100, was on track to be third over the finish line, givingWild Oats and Loyal a run for their money.

Ragamuffin 100  ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Ragamuffin 100 ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

When the bulk of the race fleet reached Bass Strait earlier today, the notorious body of water proved somewhat benign, with a 20 – 25 knot northeasterly providing perfect downwind sailing conditions. But the threat of the approaching low pressure that is forecast to bring a 30 – 40 knot southwesterly has the boats pushing to get as far south, as fast as possible.

Overnight tonight, a closely grouped pack of bigger boats are due to finish including Black Jack, Beau Geste, Giacomo, and Wild Thing.

The race for overall handicap winner is still up for play. With the changing weather conditions, competitor’s chances have been reshuffled. At 10pm local time AEDT, Bruce Taylor’s Caprice 40, Chutzpah was leading IRC overall on handicap.

Ninety boats are still racing – today Wilparina retired for unknown reasons, while Canute retired with rudder bearing problems.


Leg 4, Race 6, Day 1 During the Sydney Hobart 2013

Leg 4, Race 6, Day 1 During the Sydney Hobart 2013 (Photo courtesy Clipper Round the World Race)

With just four miles separating the top five Clipper Race teams as they pass the halfway mark, tensions are reaching summer boiling point. The race leader and fleet positions change frequently and podium positions are anything but predictable as Race 6 continues its thrilling progress.
In a dramatic morning’s racing, GREAT Britain (44th overall in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race)moved up four fleet positions to take over the Race 6 lead momentarily from Henri Lloyd (42ndoverall) who has just now regained its front spot.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire (45th overall) has made terrific gains this morning and whilst writing this report has now moved into third (50th overall) with Old Pulteney (51st overall) who had led the fleet for the previous 36 hours, now fourth.
Providing his take on the race so far, Deputy Race Director Mark Light said: “The fleet has left the sunshine shores of South East Australia and passed Cape Green, entering the notorious Bass Strait. This stretch of water can be ferocious, like a raging animal baring its teeth. At the moment it is more akin to a small kitten asleep in the sunshine, but the latest weather forecasts are showing things are going to change.
“Coming up to the approximately the halfway mark in this iconic race is where things will start to get very tactical as the yachts race to get across Bass Strait as quickly as possible to avoid the worst of the conditions and begin to negotiate the tricky East Tasmanian Coast while at the same time trying not to wake the weather animal asleep in the corner.
“The fleet is incredibly compact still so the next 36 hours are going to make for some very nail biting watching. Race Tracker viewers following at home will be glued to their screens I am sure.”
Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who is racing aboard Clipper 68, CV10 is keeping up with the Clipper 70s which he helped to design, currently sitting in 55th place overall in approximately the middle of the Clipper Race fleet.All positions reported as at the time of writing and are changing frequently. Check the Clipper Race tracker for the latest positions. It is updating every 10 minutes during this race.
To read all the skipper reports, CLICK HERE

To follow the Clipper Race 6 tracker, CLICK HERE

To follow the Clipper Race yachts in the overall Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race standings, CLICK HERE.


Rolex Sydney Hobart Start 2013 by Daniel Forster

Rolex Sydney Hobart Start 2013 (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

The low pressure system that brought rain to the Sydney area yesterday moved out to sea, providing picture perfect conditions today – a 15-18 knot southeasterly, sunshine and blue skies – for the 94-boat fleet starting the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

Boxing Day spectators lined the Sydney shoreline, and pleasure boats, ferries and all manner of craft jockeyed for a place outside the harbour’s exclusion zone, to watch the 94-boat fleet, go off at the 1:00pm (AEDT) starter’s cannon. The size and speed of the top end of this year’s fleet required a change to three staggered start lines.

The bigger boats, on the forward-most line, set their giant code zero headsails and were quickly off on a starboard reach: while 100-footers Wild Oats XI and Perpetual Loyal were drag-racing in front, just behind were Beau Geste, Ragamuffin, and Wild Thing along with the Volvo 70s, Black Jack and Giacomo. The 80-foot Beau Geste, with the pedal down, rounded the turning mark second, behind Wild Oats XI.

Maxis at Sydney Hobart Start by Carlo Borlenghi

Maxis at Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2013 Start (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The south-southeasterly breeze, combined with the spectator fleet wash, outside of the race exclusion zone, caused a washing machine-like chop, but that will pale with what is predicted for the fleet further down the 628-nautical mile race track.

The forecast is for lighter winds tonight and tomorrow, before a north-northeasterly fills in, providing ideal downwind conditions. For tacticians on the bigger, faster boats how they manage this transition will be key. For now they will endeavour to get as far south, as fast as they can.

Behind them, the smaller boats will be facing westerly gale-force winds predicted for late Saturday night (60 hours after the start) in Bass Strait and down to Tasman Island. Adding to these punishing conditions will be a westerly swell upwards of ten meters.

But the race more often than not, serves up tough conditions. Prior to the start, many of the skippers and crews, chalked up the forecast as fairly typical. Roger Hickman, skipper of Wild Rose, is a race veteran, having started in 35 races, and completed 33 of them.  Hickman said, “It is what it is. Tonight should be quiet, tomorrow quiet and then I believe we’re going to get a real pasting in Bass Strait, fresh to frightening, gale-force winds, but that’s the way it is.

The experience, the talent and the sea
miles that are in this race are astounding
Roger Hickman, skipper of Wild Rose

Hickman acknowledged that the boats and crew were up to the task, adding, “There’s a great fleet of boats here, but what’s more important is the crew. Every one of these magnificent boats is full of competitive, competent, solid yachtsmen. The experience, the talent and the sea miles that are in this race are astounding.”

Brendan Garner, on the Beneteau 45, Senna, will be racing for the first time as skipper, having done the race five races before. Garner said, “It’s going to be a complicated race; there’s going to be a lot of gear changes. We’ve done a fair bit of work with our sail systems and set-ups, so we’re quite comfortable with that. Overall we’re not too fussed with the forecast, we’re quite happy with it.”

A successful Etchells-class sailor, Garner commented on the change up from one-design to offshore and said, “You’re out there for a long time, you have to be mentally and physically prepared. It’s a race of endurance.”

Crowds at Sydney Hobaret 2013 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Crowds at Sydney Hobaret 2013 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

By late afternoon, many of the bigger boats had headed offshore looking for more favorable breeze; the front-runners were 15-25 nautical miles east of Kiama, making 15-16 knots of speed upwind.


Current status of the race will be available on the online tracker at:


From Saturday, 28 December

Arrival of the first boats in Hobart

Wednesday, 1 January
11:00 Final prize giving, Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (RYCT)

Sydney Hobart Start by Daniel Forster

Sydney Hobart Start (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Wild Oats XI near finish (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Robert Oatley’s Wild Oats XI was announced this morning as the Overall Winner of the 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart. It had become clear overnight that none of the yachts still at sea could better the corrected time established by the 30.48m (100 foot) maxi skippered by Mark Richards. Wild Oats XI has repeated its historic performance of 2005, when it secured the treble of Line Honours, Overall Winner and Race Record.


Aside from Rani, in the very first race, Wild Oats XI is the only yacht ever to have achieved this impressive display of dominance. She has now done it twice. Bob Oatley was understandably impressed: “The main aim was the fastest time. To get the handicap too was fantastic, a real bonus. Getting the record trip was really the icing on the cake.”

By 15:00 AEDT on 29 December, 13 yachts had finished the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart including two of the international entries: KLC Bengal from Japan and Ambersail from Lithuania. Last year’s winner, Loki, has so far come closest to unseating Wild Oats XI. Finishing last night at just before 21:00 even she was two hours adrift on corrected time. Black Jack, which arrived an hour before Loki, lies in third overall. Chris Bull’s Jazz holds fourth.

Victorian yacht Calm had appeared to have the best opportunity of the yachts destined to arrive before dawn today. Needing to finish before 01:31, she was behind schedule yesterday afternoon. Owner Jason Van der Slot believed they would pick up pace but had not counted on stalling close to the finish: “We parked for two hours off Tasman Island and for an hour in the Derwent. We were aiming to finish in time to win and up to Tasman Island we were on track. It had all gone according to plan until then.” She eventually finished at 06:06 this morning and holds fifth place.

Five yachts have retired so far and, for the 58 yachts still racing, a difficult evening lies ahead. In the lee of northeastern Tasmania there is a substantial wind shadow. From midway down the eastern seaboard to Tasman Island spindrift is flying off 3 metre waves in a 26 – 36 knot west-southwesterly. These conditions are forecast to prevail through much of 30 December too.

Wild Oats approaching the Hobart finish for 2012 Line Honors (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

On the morning of 28 December 2012, Wild Oats XI once again stamped her name in the Rolex Sydney Hobart history books. From the moment the start gun fired on Boxing Day the silver wraith seemed intent on condemning her rivals for line honours to the position of also-rans. Wild Oats XI’s finish time of 1 day 18 hours 23 minutes and 12 seconds sliced 16 minutes 58 seconds off her own record. Another commanding performance in a race she has begun to treat as her own.


Without doubt skipper Mark Richard’s crew of thoroughbred racers had some luck, but their race was not without problems. The first night saw the wind drop in the scheduled transition and her opponents close down the lead she had worked to establish during the afternoon. The crew held their nerve and once the northeasterly settled in they were off.

Ragamuffin-Loyal’s endeavours to stay in touch with Wild Oats XI were hampered by a headsail gear failure from which the 100-foot maxi never recovered; Syd Fischer’s equally accomplished crew forced to accept the unwelcome role of bridesmaid. Ragamuffin-Loyal finished almost five hours behind Wild Oats XI. Had the apparent error of starting the race too early been converted to a penalty, her crew’s sense of disappointment would have been complete. Fortunately, the International Jury found that race officials failed to notify Ragamuffin-Loyal after five minutes that they had jumped the start, leaving the crew unaware that they should have returned and restarted.

By 20:30 AEDT only four yachts had completed the 628 nm course. Lahana rounded out the maxi contingent just before 19:00, while Black Jack was the first mini maxi some 40 minutes later. Loki and Ichi Ban will be next home. None have so far been capable of posting a time that knocks Wild Oats XI off the overall podium position. The door may be open for a smaller yacht if the weather obliges. Calm, Jazz, Quest and Shogun look best placed to foil a second triple crown. They need the wind to shift substantially in their favour, something it has singularly failed to do so far.

Wild Oats XI near finish (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

MALUKA OF KERMANDIE the smallest yacht in the fleet by Daniel Forster

MALUKA OF KERMANDIE the smallest yacht in the fleet (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

The 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart got underway in exceptional conditions. The forecast southerly breeze providing the perfect angle for a spinnaker start and run down the harbour. The angle would prove less kind as the yachts exited the Sydney Heads and made their turn towards Hobart, finding the 20 – 25 knots now firmly on the nose. Mark Richards and Wild Oats XI looked to be in no mood to be interrupted in her bid to claim a sixth line honours, blasting off the line and showing Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin Loyal a clean pair of heels before popping out of the Heads comfortably in the lead.

An interesting night lies ahead. The decision how far to head out to sea was the first conundrum facing the crews. So far the bulk of yachts appear firm in the belief that staying inshore, and inside the rhumb line will pay better. Only, one or two boats have shown a determination to head offshore for any length of time. Mike Broughton, navigator on Chris Bull’s Jazz, felt ahead of the start that the fleet would do well to stay inshore for the initial section of the race, certainly until the major swing in wind direction expected during the night. This transition should see the wind back to the northeast and will have the yachts running under spinnaker for an extended period.

Start of the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart
Earlier this morning, Gordon Maguire, tactician on Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki, indicated some of their pre-race routing suggested the bigger yachts could profit enormously from the predicted northeasterly. If it arrives on cue, they could bite a huge chunk out of the course during the hours of darkness and be lying off Green Cape by mid-morning on the second day, 27 December. The small boats, meanwhile, such as race veteran Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose, might only find themselves parallel with Jervis Bay as dawn breaks. The difference in power between segments of the fleet will be all too apparent at this juncture.


Wild Oats XI leads out of Sydney Harbor (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

WILD OATS XI, after the start
At 17:30 AEDT Wild Oats XI was 8 nautical miles north east of Kiama travelling at 12 knots, with some 50 nm under her belt after 4.5 hours of sailing. Any thought of setting a new record seemed to be on hold as navigator Adrienne Cahalan called in to report the wind speed dropping as evening arrives. Ragamuffin Loyal lies within striking distance just astern. Lahana, Ichi Ban and Black Jack round out the top five on the water. Conditions have been wet and hard on crews during these first few hours and the measure of performance differential between front-runners and back markers is clearly demonstrated by Charlie’s Dream. Averaging just 3.4 knots, Peter Lewis and crew were parallel with Botany Bay having knocked a mere 13 nm off the 628nm course distance.

Black Jack charges down the harbor by Daniel Forster

Black Jack charges down the harbor (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart is like few other yacht races. The natural amphitheatre formed by the deep-water harbour offers great viewing potential from the water, at water level from the beaches and coves, and grandstand opportunities from higher ground. Every Sydney-sider has a favourite location, and South Head must be one of the most popular and dramatic. A huge crowd always assembles to watch the fleet barrel down the harbour and make the sharp out into open water. This year’s spectacle was worth the effort involved. After a dreadful Christmas Day, when rain and wind battered Sydney, Boxing Day has been a joy. Blue sky and reasonably warm temperatures brought the locals out in their thousands to cheer the determined and enthusiastic crews off on their compelling adventure.


Crowds on the South End enjoy the spectacle. (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)


Abracadabra 5612 New South Wales Tripp 47
AFR Midnight Rambler 8338 New South Wales Ker 40
Akatea NZL8710 New Zealand Cookson 50
Ambersail LTU1000 Lithuania Volvo 60
Ariel A140 New South Wales Beneteau First 40
Asylum YC10 South Australia Sydney 38
Aurora N3 New South Wales Farr 40 – One Off
Black Jack 52566 Queensland Reichel Pugh 66
Blunderbuss RQ4000 Queensland Beneteau First 40
Brannew 9988 New South Wales Beneteau First 40 Cr
Breakthrough 6834 New South Wales Beneteau First 40
Brindabella 10000 New South Wales Jutson 79
Calm SM5252 Victoria TP52
Carbon Credits 6669 Queensland Beneteau First 45
Celestial-Assistance Dogs 421 New South Wales Rogers 46
Charlie’s Dream RQ1920 Queensland Bluewater 450
Chutzpah R33 Victoria IRC 40
CIC Technology Inca F111 Aust Capital Territory Vickers 41
Copernicus 6689 New South Wales Radford 12
Corporate Initiatives 7407 New South Wales Beneteau First 40.7
Cougar II 5200 Tasmania TP52
Dekadence S20 Victoria DK46
Duende ESP6100 New South Wales JV52
Dump Truck A6 Tasmania Ker 11.3
Enchantress SA346 South Australia Muirhead 11
Eressea 6590 Queensland Hanse 415
Finistere F108 Western Australia Davidson 50
Flying Fish Arctos 7551 New South Wales McIntyre 55
Frantic GBR5211 New South Wales TP52
Geomatic M495 Victoria Hanse 495
Halcyon R75 Victoria Beneteau First 40
Helsal III 262 Tasmania Adams 20
Holdens Secret Mens Business YC3300 South Australia Reichel Pugh 51
Icefire R6572 New South Wales Mummery 45
Ichi Ban AUS 03 New South Wales Jones 70
Illusion 5356 New South Wales Davidson 34
INSX SM5985 Victoria NSX 38
Jazz Player S390 Victoria Bakewell – White 39
Jazz 5299 New South Wales Cookson 50
Kioni 6146 New South Wales Beneteau First 47.7
KLC Bengal 7 JPN4321 Japan Humphreys 54
Lahana 10081 New South Wales 30m Maxi
Living Doll R55 Victoria Farr 55
Local Hero 1236 New South Wales BH 36
Loki AUS 60000 New South Wales Reichel Pugh 63
Love & War 294 New South Wales S & S 47
Luna Sea 8339 New South Wales Hick 35
Lunchtime Legend RQ14 Queensland Beneteau First 40
Maluka of Kermandie A19 Tasmania Ranger
Martela 7075 Tasmania IMX 38
Merit 8679 Queensland Volvo 60
Occasional Coarse Language Too 8008 New South Wales Sydney GTS 43
Ocean Affinity RQ64 Queensland Marten 49
Papillon 6841 New South Wales Archambault 40RC
Patrice Six 360 New South Wales X41
Peugeot Surfrider 7771 New South Wales Beneteau 45
Primitive Cool S777 Victoria Farr 40 Mod
Quest 52002 New South Wales TP 52
Ragamuffin Loyal SYD100 New South Wales Elliott 100
Rikki NZL8008 New Zealand Reichel Pugh 42
Rush B45 Victoria Corel 45
Sailors with disAbilities 6953 New South Wales Nelson Marek 52
She 4924 New South Wales Olsen 40
Shogun 6952 Victoria JV 52
Southern Excellence NOR2 New South Wales Volvo 60
St Jude 6686 New South Wales Sydney 47
This Way Up RF360 Western Australia Sydney 36CR
Toybox 2 MH4 New South Wales XP 44
TSA Management MH60 New South Wales Sydney 38
Tusitala SAM1 Samoa Goss 60
Two True YC400 South Australia Beneteau First 40
Veloce SM602 Victoria Elliott 44CR
Wicked SM4 Victoria Beneteau First 40
Wild Oats XI 10001 New South Wales RP100
Wild Rose 4343 New South Wales Farr 43
Zen 3838 New South Wales Sydney 38