Raising interest in ocean racing
Published on July 14th, 2021
As the Northern Hemisphere completes its turn at the sailing season, and transitions to end-of-year holiday pastimes, the sun shifts to the Southern Hemisphere when the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on Boxing Day takes center stage.
Eager to roar again after the pandemic-induced cancellations in 2020, the national federation for Australia, Australian Sailing, has sharpened the focus for teams riding on 60+ foot yachts. Titled the Australian Maxi Championship, the inaugural series in 2021 will be December 3-7 out of Sydney Harbour.
With 157 entrants for the 2019 Sydney Hobart, it is the maxis that attract the greatest attention on the 628nm course, and now the Australian Maxi Championship will offer four races featuring Maxis (80-100 foot), Mini Maxis (60-79 foot), and Racer Cruisers (60 foot+).
Hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the inaugural Australian Maxi Championship looks to provide additional valuable racing for Maxis and Racer Cruisers in the build-up to the offshore test to Hobart.
“There will be great racing pedigree across the three divisions for the 2021 series, such as nine-time Rolex Sydney Hobart Line Honours winner Wild Oats XI,” said Noel Cornish AM, CYCA Commodore. “We look forward to working with Australian Sailing and the fleet to lay a solid foundation for what will be an entertaining series for years to come.”
David Griffith AM, CYCA Director and owner of the JV 62 Whisper, believes the series will have a positive impact on the future of sailing in Australia.
“The Australian Maxi Championship is a fantastic initiative of Australian Sailing and the CYCA,” Griffith said. “As most major yachting centres in the world hold such events, it is timely for Sydney to host one for our big boats that will gather together just before the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
“The spectacle of these big boats will be instrumental in raising interest in ocean racing and will inspire young sailors to aim to be part of this scene.”
Peter Harburg, owner of the RP100 Black Jack, expects the Australian Maxi Championship to bring together a world class fleet.
“The Black Jack crew has always been keen to test itself against the world’s best and had gone to Europe in 2020 to compete in a number of key events for Maxi yachts,” Harburg said.
“Sadly, these were not to be and on returning to Australia, many of the disappointments and frustrations of race cancellations continued.
“We are very much looking forward to the opportunity to get back on the water later this year and to be involved in the inaugural Australian Maxi Championship series.
“Australia has the greatest fleet of 100-footers in the world, as well as countless other great Maxis across the various classes, and the opportunity to race against these crews, as well as other renowned international competitors, in the lead-up to one of the greatest offshore races, the Rolex Sydney Hobart, is truly exciting.”
The Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore Cabbage Tree Island Race will open the series on December 3, with Races 2 and 3 on December 6 providing passage courses starting and finishing in Sydney Harbour. These two races will be conducted near the coastline to provide an exciting spectacle for crowds along the coast.
The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on December 7, which had in the past given the 100-footers a stage, will round out the series for the Maxi and Mini Maxi divisions, while the Racer Cruisers will take on another passage race.
For information on the Australian Maxi Championship, click here.