Four days of shorthanded scramble
Published on December 21st, 2021
The long range weather forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology for the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race anticipates southerlies and possible thunderstorms early after the Boxing Day start, all but erasing hope for a fast course toward the southerly tip of Australia.
With a series of wind transitions expected along the 628 nm course, the forecast will only add to the challenges presented by the new Two-Handed Division. The fleet was to have been contested for the first time last year until COVID-19 led to the race being cancelled.
But a year on, interest in the shorthanded crews has only grown as the division of 18 entries, from the total fleet of 94, will challenge for the inaugural trophy, awarded to the Overall winner on IRC handicap. Among the fleet is the Jeanneau Sun Fast 3200 Hells Bells.
“This is one of the great races of the world. To be able to do it in this [two-handed] category is amazing,” said Queenslander Lincoln Dews, who will sail Hells Bells (owned by his father Geoff) with Andrew Scott, who won the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart with Roger Hickman on Wild Rose.
“To get to Hobart will be amazing; and to be able to get there on a small boat is too,” added Dews. “It’s such a tightly contested field because everyone’s ratings are so close. The boat speeds are so close. There are so many opportunities to make mistakes. To gain places over four days … there is going to be some really exciting and close racing.”
The 628nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be the 76th edition in 2021 with a fleet of 94 boats that include three international entries. One hundred fifty seven teams set off in 2019 for the 75th edition, but since then the 2020 race was cancelled due to the pandemic and uncertainty has hovered this year.
From the start in Sydney Harbour, the fleet sails out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait (which divides the mainland from the island State of Tasmania), then down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to the historic port city of Hobart.