Clipper Race founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is ready for the 69th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (RSHYR) which starts on Boxing Day at 1300 local (0200 UTC).
Sir Robin will be aboard one of two Clipper 68s to be based permanently in Sydney at the new Clipper Race Australian training and development hub, which will be racing alongside the 12-strong Clipper 2013-14 Race fleet of Clipper 70s.
“The Rolex Sydney Hobart Race ranks with the Fastnet Race as one of the two great offshore racing classics,” explains Sir Robin, who last took part in the Australian race in 2010.
“When we realised that the approximate Clipper Race schedule would need only slight modifications to include the race, we started talking to the race organisers, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
“Navigationally the race is relatively simple, it’s a more or less straight line from the Sydney Heads to the Corner of Tasmania, and then 40 miles to the finish, but this is only half the story,” continues Sir Robin.
“What will matter are the weather conditions. Will it be a calm race or a strong wind race? The heavier boats do better when the wind is from the South West, but the lighter boats want a reach or a run.
“How will the Clipper Race fleet do? Each boat is given a correction factor which tries to equate its length, weight sail area and other factors, and this is used as a multiplier for the time they take to the finish line.
“It’s a well tried system and means that any of the 95 strong fleet this year can be the winner on handicap, which is what really counts. What we can say is that these new Clipper 70s are making averages above 10 knots, a very respectable speed, and the crews, many of whom have sailed halfway round the world to get here, are no longer novices.
“These Clipper Race crews are the true Corinthians, and they are up against professionals in multi million dollar lightweight sledges.
“But the handicap takes that into account and what counts at the end of the day is experience and the Clipper Race crews have that.
“I am sailing on CV10, one of the previous fleet of 68-footers (formerly Derry-Londonderry during Clipper 11-12 Race) that has sailed down here to provide Clipper Race training for future races from the large number of Australians and people from Asia that join in the Clipper Races these days.
“We don’t have the same reaching and running speed on the new boats, but might hold them if the wind is from the South West. It will be an exciting race to watch.”
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