Australia's richest horse race has been run and won and now another summer sporting icon is on the radar with the close of applications for entry marking the start of the countdown to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
A fleet of 100 has been nominated for the great ocean classic, every Australian state represented and international applications received from the USA, UK, France, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
New South Wales is fielding the largest state based entry, followed by Victoria. Tasmania is sponsoring its largest local contingent since the 50th anniversary race back in 1994 with eight entries.
For the 2010 race, 102 yachts were nominated, with a final fleet of 87 on the start line and 69 crossing the finish line in Hobart's Derwent River in time for New Year's Eve.
CYCA Commodore Garry Linacre said today, "This year's race has attracted a great group of yachts with an exciting mix of brand new, newly acquired and well established yachts that will provide strong competition for line honours and through the divisions.
"The race for the elusive Tattersall's Cup for overall honours will again be absorbing."
Like the Melbourne Cup, Australia's premier yacht race has a long and colourful history. Unlike the Cup, there's no multi-million prize pool on offer - only the honour of completing the tough 628 nautical mile course and the chance to be recorded in the race annuals for the outright win.
This year's armada will bring countless stories and statistics to the Sydney Harbour start line, with yachts ranging in size from 9.01 to 30.48 metres and almost 80 years separating the eldest boat from the newest carbon fibre creation, AFR Midnight Rambler, launched in September.
Competitors are equally diverse; world famous solo sailor Jessica Watson one of a number of 18 year-olds preparing for their maiden Rolex Sydney Hobart. At the other end of the scale, race elder Syd Fischer will at 84 contest his 43rd blue water classic, once again as skipper of his grand prix TP52 Ragamuffin.
Bob Oatley's 100ft super maxi and race record holder, Wild Oats XI, is being groomed for a potential sixth line honours win. A second 100 footer, Anthony Bell's Investec Loyal, has also been under the knife and will attempt to bring an end to Wild Oats' remarkable line honours reign.
The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will start at 13:00 local time on 26 December, from Sydney Harbour. This year's race marks the 67th edition of the ocean classic and, for the first time, the culmination of the CYCA's Blue Water Pointscore series.
This year's fleet will be officially announced by Commodore Linacre at the CYCA on Tuesday 22 November.
Those applicants who satisfy eligibility criteria will now be invited to lodge an entry form at the CYCA sailing office by the due date, Friday 2 December.