Early Weather Predictions for Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

Published on December 18th, 2015

Any thoughts of a post-Christmas sleigh ride for the supermaxi yachts contesting the 628nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race are decreasing as the December 26 start time on Sydney Harbor approaches.

A preliminary weather prognosis from acclaimed yachting meteorologist, Roger Badham, indicates that while the fleet of 109 will initially make a fast run south from Sydney, their progress will be slowed dramatically when a cold and powerful southerly change confronts them within hours of the start. It is then likely that the winds will be “on the nose” – from the south – well into the next day.

Badham’s current forecast predicts that a strong southerly change averaging around 30 knots will hit the fleet during the afternoon on Boxing Day and persist – though getting lighter – through until the big boats exit Bass Strait the following day. There is also a possibility conditions will be influenced by a tropical cyclone which is expected to form over Gulf of Carpentaria waters on Dec 23.

The forecast pleases Wild Oats XI’s skipper, Mark Richards. “We’ll take what comes with the weather,” Richards said, “but we certainly won’t mind going upwind against our opposition. All the numbers are telling us Wild Oats XI is now faster both upwind and down, so we’ll look forward to being alongside the likes of Comanche, Perpetual Loyal, Ragamuffin and Rambler 88 to see how we go. That will be our first real test, and I’m confident we will acquit ourselves well.”

Wild Oats XI, which has competed in every Rolex Sydney Hobart Race since 2005, is recognised as the most successful yacht in the 71-year history of the event. The 30-metre yacht, owned by Bob and Sandy Oatley, has just been relaunched following dramatic modifications which cut 2 meters off the stern so as to add a new, longer bow section.

While Wild Oats XI remains one of the favourites for line honours, her chances of taking the double of line and handicap honours for a record third time seem remote. Badham’s current weather prognosis suggests that conditions will favour the smaller yachts in the race to be first on handicap.

Richards’ final comment was: “It looks like a typical Hobart race”.

Source: Rob Mundle, Wild Oats XI Media Manager

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Background: The 71st edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starts December 26 in Sydney Harbor, taking an entry list of 111 boats along the 628 nautical mile course to Hobart that is often described as the most grueling long ocean race in the world.


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