A diverse and competitive fleet will chase history in the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, headlined by the battle for the Tattersall Cup and the introduction of the Two-Handed Division.
Six Australian states and territories are represented in the fleet of 106 boats (NSW, Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and ACT), along with three international entries (Black Jack – Monaco; Maverick 49 – Guernsey; SHK Scallywag 100 – Hong Kong).
Matt Allen’s Botin 52 Ichi Ban is hoping to become only the third boat to win the Tattersall Cup (awarded to the overall winner on handicap) three times, having won the 2017 and 2019 editions of the race. Simon Kurts’ S&S 47 Love & War is one of the two boats on that elite list (Freya is the other) and will be one to watch if the breeze is strong and blowing from different directions.
Speaking at the Official Media Launch for the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart, Allen said: “We have a chance of going back-to-back, but we will put that out of our minds – we’re pretty superstitious!
“You need all the moons to align [to win the Tattersall Cup]. You need a terrific boat, a terrific crew, but you also need luck down Storm Bay and the Derwent River.”
The TP52s will again be expected to challenge for overall honours, with Matt Donald and Chris Townsend’s Gweilo (second to Ichi Ban in 2019) one of the form boats. Craig Neil has his sights on victory with Quest, a two-time overall winner (as Quest in 2008 for Bob Steel and Balance in 2015 for Paul Clitheroe), while Michael Pritchard’s Cookson 50 Oskana (overall winner under the name Victoire in 2013) could certainly be in contention.
Conditions may favour some of the smaller yachts, with the likes of Bruce Taylor’s Caprice 40 Chutzpah, Ed Psaltis’ Sydney 36 Midnight Rambler (Psaltis won the 1998 Sydney Hobart on his Hick 35 AFR Midnight Rambler) and Shane Kearns’ S&S34 White Bay 6 Azzurro in the mix.
The first ever champions of the Two-Handed Division will be crowned, with separate Line Honours and Overall trophies for the inaugural winners.
Rupert Henry’s custom-built Eora, a Lombard Class 40 he will sail with co-skipper Greg O’Shea, will head into the race as favourite, but faces pressure from the likes of the J/99s Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth (Jules Hall/Jan Scholten) and Rum Rebellion (Shane Connelly/Graeme Dunlop), Hip-Nautic (Jean-Pierre Ravanat/John Tanton), Maverick (Rod Smallman/Leeton Hulley), Salt Shaker (Peter Franki/Drew Jones), and Speedwell (Campbell Geeves/Wendy Tuck).
Jen Linkova will race her Radford 12.2 Flat White with co-skipper Jason Cummings and is excited by the challenge of racing to Hobart two-handed.
“I saw the boat and I just fell in love, because she’s really beautiful,” Linkova said.
“I can’t even say what I don’t like about her… except for the price!”
When asked if owning a boat is like a marriage, Linkova quipped: “I think it would be much tougher to separate [from the boat]!
Three super maxis will lead the charge for Line Honours victory in the 76th edition of the race: Peter Harburg’s Reichel/Pugh 100 Black Jack (Line Honours winner as Alfa Romeo in 2009), Christian Beck’s Juan-K 100 LawConnect (Line Honours winner as Perpetual LOYAL in 2016, when she broke the race record) and Seng Huang Lee’s Dovell 100 SHK Scallywag 100.
“I always watched the Sydney Hobart on TV as a kid and it was always a dream for me to one day race in it,” Beck said.
“Once I did my first race, I decided I wanted to try to win it. We’re on the right trajectory.”
They will face stern competition from the 60-80 foot yachts, including Philip Turner’s Reichel/Pugh 66 Alive (the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winner), Sean Langman’s Reichel/Pugh 69 Moneypenny, David Gotze’s Reichel/Pugh 63 No Limit, the Grant Wharington-led Botin 80 Stefan Racing, Anthony Johnston’s Reichel/Pugh 72 URM, David Griffith’s JV62 Whisper and Jim Cooney’s Volvo 70 Willow.
“We are delighted to see such a strong fleet for the return of this Great Race,” said Noel Cornish AM, Commodore of the race organiser, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
“Planning for the race has been a truly collaborative effort as we adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring we can conduct the race in compliance with any restrictions outlined by the NSW and Tasmanian State Governments.
“We look forward to adding another chapter to the Sydney Hobart’s long and proud history.”
The oldest boat in the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart will be Annie Lawrence’s Halvorsen 36 Solveig, a Line Honours and Overall winner of the race, built in 1950.
The Army Sailing Club’s Jarkan 925 Gun Runner is the smallest boat in the fleet at just 9.2 metres. Skipper Murray Stewart will lead a crew of eight sailors, including up to four novices.
The Boxing Day start of the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and live-and-on-demand on the 7Plus app.