The start of the 2000 Telstra Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is a unique sailing event - the only annual long ocean race in the world to start within an enclosed harbour.
As has been the custom since 1945, the entire fleet in this 56th ocean classic - the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has received 82 final entries - will set sail together at the same time, 1300 hours (02.00 UTC), December 26from a single line on Sydney Harbour.
The forecast for a light west to south-westerly breeze in the morning that could give the fleet its first spinnaker run to Sydney Heads before they head out into the open waters of the Tasman Sea and turn right for the island State of Tasmania, 630 nautical miles to the south. Later in the afternoon, a freshening north-easterly seabreeze is forecast and that will give the fleet a fast spinnaker run down the coast, aided by a three knot southerly current. Ahead of them on Wednesday is a south-westerly change with winds of 15 to 25 knots, stronger in Bass Strait, with very cold southerlies in Tasmanian waters. It was snowing on Hobart's Mount Wellington this morning!
The first maxi yachts should arrive on the evening of Thursday, December 28, or from the early hours onwards on Friday, December 29, depending on wind strength and direction throughout the long race. To break Nokia's remarkable record of 1 day 19 hours 48 minutes 02 seconds, the first boat will have to cross the Finish Line on Thursday morning, December 28, before 08:48.02 hours local time.