Line forms for Sydney Hobart Race

Published on August 11th, 2017

The early roll call for Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race already finds international contenders for the 73rd running of the 628 nm blue water classic.

American Joseph Mele returns for his second tilt at the Tattersall’s Cup after his inaugural event on his Swan 44 Triple Lindy, named tongue-in-cheek for Rodney Dangerfield’s famous dive in the movie ‘Back to School’. Mele will be racing his latest acquisition, a Cookson 50 previously named Akatea, which is now receiving a new bowsprit, mast, rigging and sails in New Zealand.

Christopher Sheehan and Warrior Won, an Xp 44, will be newcomers on the December 26 start line, but her all-American crew are seasoned ocean racers who won the 2016 Newport to Bermuda race St. David’s Lighthouse Division from 110 entries.

“It was an extraordinary feeling to be the third boat to finish behind Comanche (she broke the race record) and High Noon,” said Sheehan of the Bermuda race.

“Growing up in the north-east of the US, one is exposed to numerous classic ocean races every summer through the media and yacht club chatter,” the American said of the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart.

“I have long admired Australian sailors,” Sheehan continued. “At 25 I spent 14 months of solo global travel in Australia in 1990. I fell in love with the country and knew I wanted to return some day to partake in the historic, beautiful Sydney Hobart.”

Two-time America’s Cup challenger, Vincenzo Onorato, looks forward to putting to test his previous success in to his first race to Hobart. From 1993, the Italian shipping magnate has branded his team and boats ‘Mascalzone Latino’, a name recognised in sailing circles worldwide, particularly through 2003 and 2007 America’s Cup challenges.

With an enduring crew, Onorato has won six world titles and European championships across the Mumm 30, Farr 40 (three Worlds wins) and Melges 32 classes, coupled with victories at major regattas.

The Italian’s maiden Sydney Hobart will be aboard Mascalzone Latino, the Cookson 50 with which he won the 2016 and 2017 Rolex Middle Sea Race and 2017 ORC World Championship Class A. If successful, October’s Volvo Hong Kong to Vietnam Race will make it a hat trick.

Karl Kwok, owner of the Botin 80 Beau Geste, says he would not miss the 73rd Rolex Sydney Hobart “for anything. It will be 20 years since I won the 1997 race (with Beau Geste, a new Farr 47), so I will be there,” the Hong Kong retail giant confirmed.

Scallywag, the former Ragamuffin purchased by Hong Kong’s Seng Huang Lee last year, is the first super maxi to sign up. This despite Lee and his skipper, David Witt, currently being tied up with Lee’s 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race entry, inclusive of competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race this week.

“We couldn’t miss the Hobart,” said Witt. SH (Lee) has done a lot of modifications to the 100-footer such is his passion for the race. Actually, it’s becoming an obsession like mine.”

Decorated French sailor Lionel Pean returns for his fifth Sydney Hobart, last here for the 50th with Kyote French Line when they placed second in Division. This time he brings the VOR70 named SFS, a sistership to last year’s overall winner Giacomo. Ark323, a TP52 owned by Ting Lee and from Noah’s Sailing Club in China, returns for her third race.

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