The largest fleet in a decade has been nominated for the 60th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, with applications to enter the 628 nautical mile ocean classic being lodged for 120 yachts from all Australian states and overseas.
There are ten international entries from New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Hong Kong and the USA.
This is the tenth largest fleet in the past 59 races, with the biggest being 371 boats in the 50th anniversary race in 1994.
From a technical aspect, it will be the most advanced ocean race of 2004 in the world, with at least four of the big boats fitted with canting keels and with at least a dozen grand prix racers launched within the past two years.
The 60th Rolex Sydney Hobart Race will climax a Summer of Sail in Sydney with a record fleet also expected for the lead-up Rolex Trophy in mid December. The Rolex Trophy includes the first eight races of the Rolex Challenge teams series.
The Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Martin James, announced the fleet today at an official launch at the Rushcutters Bay clubhouse on the southern shores of Sydney Harbour from where the 60th anniversary race will start at 1pm on Boxing Day, December 26.
"The fleet, in size and quality, measures up to the best we have seen. It has only been exceeded nine times, for the 50th race in 1994 and during the heyday of ocean racing in the 1980s,"
said Commodore Martin JAMES.
"The fleet epitomises what the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race is all about, a race for boats big and small, old and new. It represents a broad cross-section of ocean racing in Australia.
"We have the super maxis that fought out line honours last year back again, Skandia and Konica Minolta, and a yet-to-be-launched new 90-foot Nicorette, and some of the best IRC grand prix racers including a new Beneteau 44.7 for last year's Overall winner Michael Spies, again called First National Real Estate.
"Then there is that beautiful classic timber yacht Love and War which owner Peter Kurts has already skippered to two Overall victories in this race.
"The young and old are not just the boats - Peter Kurts recently turned 80, while John Walker who recently won the Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race with Impeccable, is 81.