It’s official – the Clipper Race is returning to contest the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race for a third time.

Entries for the 73rd edition of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (RSHYR) officially closed at 1700 Sydney time (0600 UTC) today, with all twelve Clipper 70s now included in the start list. And one person in particular couldn’t be happier that the Clipper Race will again be taking part in the legendary Bluewater Classic.

“The Sydney Hobart means everything,” says Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck.

“It means a whole year of preparing, it means summer, it means Christmas, it means fast tough racing in every sort of condition for 630 nautical miles.”

The Australian adds: “The best bit about Sydney Hobart is the start and the finish. I think it’s the same with every single yacht race but I’m looking forward to seeing all the other Skippers there because I don’t think they realise just what sort of finish it is there. The Taste of Tasmania is on in Hobart, you go past the wharf there where everyone is having lunch and cheering. I don’t think they realise just how big a finish this race is. It’s just incredible.”

IMAGE: Wendy Tuck during race start of the 2015 RSHYR.

The 2017 RSHYR will be an extra special one for Wendy. Incredibly, it will be the eleventh time she has taken part in her ‘local’ race, and it will be the first since she was added to the RSHYR Honour Board for completing ten Hobarts.

Wendy will also return as the reigning champion in the Clipper Division. As the first Australian female skipper in the Clipper Race’s history, she Skippered her Da Nang – Viet Nam team to victory in the Clipper Division of the 2015 RSHYR, which doubled as Race 5 of the All-Australian Leg 4. She was also the first female Skipper across the line, which saw her awarded the Jane Tate Memorial Trophy after arriving at Hobart’s Constitution Dock.

After crewing on Bravo in last year’s RSHYR, Wendy says: “I’m looking forward to skippering again. And I’m also looking forward to just having the whole Clipper Race fleet there because it is just such a big spectacle leaving and starting and finishing so looking forward to the whole thing.”

Given her past experience and success, Wendy does look the like the Skipper to beat but the Sydney sailing isn’t getting carried away with all the pre-race talk, saying: “I try and forget about the win in 2015 because I don’t like putting the extra pressure on myself. The pressure is coming from everyone else.

“But Unicef Skipper Bob Beggs and Chris Kobusch, who’s the skipper of Qingdao, have done the race as well so I’m not the only one who has done it.”

Chris took part in the 71st Sydney Hobart in 2015 and is looking forward to having another go at the Bluewater Classic this December.

“It was good fun,” says Chris.

“I was the navigator on board, in competition with Sir Robin on the other Clipper 68 so it was very interesting.

“We managed to catch them up to Hobart and then they sailed away from us and I think they beat us by an hour, and hour and a half or so. It was a close race though.”

What really stands out in the Qingdao Skipper’s memory is the welcome into Hobart, saying: “Arriving in Hobart is absolutely mad. There are so many boats, so many people.

“Last time we arrived in the middle of the night and the pontoon was full of people cheering for us. It was fantastic.”

The Clipper Race teams will have a lot to live up to in this year’s edition of the RSHYR. In 2015, 24 yachts, including former winners Wild Oats XI and Perpetual Loyal, were forced to retire in the wild conditions. However, all twelve Clipper Race yachts made it to Hobart, with Da Nang – Viet Nam and GREAT Britain finishing in the top ten in Division 2.

The 73rd RSHYR, which doubles as Race 5 in the Clipper 2017-18 Race, starts on Boxing Day. After ringing in the New Year in Hobart, the fleet will depart for the final race of the All Australian Leg 4 to the Whitsundays on Friday 5 January.

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