Applications for entry will be accepted until 1700 Wednesday 9 November, allowing for as many yachts as possible to join a fleet whose size has already exceeded the expectations of organizers.
'To have such a big fleet the year after the 60th Anniversary and a tough race is very pleasing and we understand there are a few boats who are still to enter,' said CYCA Commodore Geoff LAVIS.
'The enthusiasm for the race never wanes and it continues to attract yachts of all sizes and styles, as well as sailors from around the country and around the world.
'To date we have entries from Britain, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, four entries from New Zealand plus representation from New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT.'
If the weather plays its part, the big boats could sight the Hobart finish line in record time. The line honours time to beat is 1 day, 19 hours, 48 minutes and 2 seconds set by Nokia in 1999.
The two brand new maxis, Neville CRICHTON's Alfa Romeo and Bob OATLEY's soon to be launched Wild Oats XI will join three former contenders returning to the fray. AAPT, which crossed the Hobart finish line second last year; Konica Minolta, which elected to pull out last year following some structural damage; and Skandia, which was also forced to retire last year after a keel system failure have entered again.
However, it is often the smaller boats who take the true victory of the race - Overall Winner. With so many different yachts competing in the race, the CYCA uses the International Rule Club (IRC) time correction system, with boats competing in different divisions according to their size and/or potential speed.
There are many yachts in this year's fleet with the potential to claim the Tattersalls Trophy for Overall Winner. Among them are Yendys, Chieftain representing Ireland, Dekadence from Victoria, Loki which finished third overall in the IRC Division at Hamilton Island and Quest which has a previous first and second overall in this race.
International entrants to watch include Britaim's Open 60 Hugo Boss, skippered by Alex THOMPSON, a major new talent in international yachting. THOMPSON first made news in the 1998-1999 Clipper Race when, at the age of 24, he became the youngest skipper ever to win a round the world race. Two years later, he took line honours in the Round Britain and Ireland Race. Following a second place in the 2002 Transat Jacques Vabre, THOMPSON came in a close third in the 2003 Defi Atlantique, establishing yet another record in the process. This time was a new world speed record for solo monohulls, covering 468 miles in a 24 hour period at an average boat speed of 19.5 knots. For this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, THOMPSON will be joined by local Australian and fellow Vendee Globe 2004-5 competitor Nick MALONEY, Olympic silver medallist Simon HISCOCKS, Hobart-born Team New Zealand sailmaker Dick PARKER and renowned navigator and meteorologist Chris TIBBS.
The appeal of the race continues for many in the fleet who return year after year. Among those with a continuing passion for the race are Lou ABRAHAMS on Challenge who will sail his 43rd Sydney Hobart and Tony CABLE who will chalk up his 42nd trip on Philip FOOTE's Witchdoctor, which is undertaking its 25th Sydney Hobart to equal Mark TWAIN's record.
The classic yacht Berrimilla, only 10.1 metres long, has entered every race since the 50th anniversary in 1994 and will be back this year to complete a full year's sailing adventure. After finishing sixth in their division last year, Alex WHITWORTH and Peter CROZIER left Hobart and sailed via the Falkland Islands to Britain where they took part in the 2005 Rolex Fastnet Race. They finished eighth in IRC Class 3 and were awarded the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Seamanship Trophy for an outstanding act of seamanship. They are currently making their way home and will have just a few weeks to prepare the boat before they line up for Berrimilla's 15th Rolex Sydney Hobart.
John WALKER, skipper of Impeccable will be celebrating his 22nd Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and at the youthful age of 83 again looks to be the most senior competitor in the fleet. At 23 years of age, the skipper of New Zealand's Nevenka is the youngest this year.
More than a million people are again expected to watch the race start on and around Sydney Harbour or via television. The start will be broadcast live by the Seven Network, including a preview from 1300 before the race begins at 1320.
'The race is an Australian tradition which has become world-renowned and attracts the interest of people worldwide who check its progress on television or via the official website's Yacht-Tracker, which experienced 1.8 million unique visitors in 2004,' said CYCA Commodore Geoff LAVIS.
The Rolex Trophy - One Design Series from 10-12 December and the Rolex Trophy- Rating Series from 15-18 December will again be the lead-up events to the 61st Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
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