A bridge too far for Sydney Hobart Race

Published on November 2nd, 2020

While sailing is an equipment sport, competition must remain a test of sailing ability. While the sport already finds amateurs competing against professionals, it was a bridge too far for humans to be competing against computers at the helm.

So as the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) continues planning for the 2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the debate has been settled on how to best introduce a new division of boats and sailors to the 76th edition.

After witnessing the worldwide increase in popularity of two-handed sailing, culminating in the inclusion of two-handed sailing in the Paris 2024 Olympics, the CYCA decided that the inclusion of at Two-Handed division would be a great progression for the 628 nm course.

However, the inclusion of the new division, and the way in which the teams compete, brings a new complexity of sophisticated sailing technology with the use of autopilot units.

The CYCA acknowledges further understanding needs to be gained to appreciate the full capacity and range of technology available to two-handed competitors, and how these are accommodated within different handicap rating systems.

“With hindsight, because of our enthusiasm in embracing two-handed sailing, we may have acted too quickly allowing two-handed boats to be eligible to compete for one of sailing’s most prestigious trophies, the Tattersall Cup,” said Commodore Noel Cornish, referring to the overall title.

As such, the CYCA has amended the 2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Notice of Race to reflect that two-handed entrants will be scored within their own handicap category divisions and not be eligible to compete against fully crewed boats in divisions or for the overall race win.

Instead, the CYCA will initiate a new perpetual trophy for the IRC Two-Handed overall winner.

“The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is steeped in history and tradition and inclusion of a two-handed division is a progressive step forward for the Club,” said the Commodore.

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