Australia’s most famous ocean race, the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, has gained even greater international status with the announcement today of a long-term sponsorship agreement with Rolex, the renowned international watch-maker.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's 58th annual race down the Australian East Coast, across Bass Strait to the island State of Tasmania, will be the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The Rolex sponsorship extends to include the 60th Sydney Hobart Race in 2004, another significant milestone in the history of the CYCA and its annual ocean classic.
The partnership with Rolex will give even greater international status and exposure to the event, with the likelihood of a significant increase in Australian and overseas entries.
In fact, the CYCA has already had a number of enquiries from overseas; both from owners planning to bring their boats to Australia and others keen to charter competitive racing boats for the 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
In Sydney, prominent owner Neville Crichton is building a new 87-foot maxi yacht with the specific aim of winning Line Honours in this year's race, an event he describes as among the toughest ocean racing challenges in the world.
The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, starting on Boxing Day, 26 December 2002, will be linked to other great offshore races and regattas, as Rolex is already the major sponsor of yachting events around the world.
These include the Giraglia Rolex Cup from St Tropez, France, to Genoa, Italy; the Rolex IMS Offshore World Championship in Capri, Italy; the Rolex Fastnet Race in England, to be held next year; the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo, Sardinia; the Rolex Commodore's Cup in England; the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship in the USA.
In association with the International Sailing Federation, Rolex sponsors the prestigious ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards, the 2001 winners being solo ocean racer Ellen MacArthur (female) and Olympic gold medallist and five times World champion in the Laser dinghy class, Robert Scheidt.
Rolex will present two of their magnificent chronometers to the winners of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Announcing the signing of four-year contract with Rolex, the Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club, Mr Hans Sommer, said the sponsorship not only assured the future of the Sydney Hobart Race but gave the ocean race new international status.
"The decision of Rolex to sponsor the Sydney Hobart Race ranks it with other great yachting events, such as the Rolex Fastnet Race, and the added international exposure should attract many overseas entrants this year and in future years.
"The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races in 2002 and 2003 will be significant events leading up to the CYCA's 60th Sydney Hobart Race in 2004, with the Club and Rolex already planning for that milestone in ocean racing history," Commodore Sommer added.
Commodore Sommer said that while the 2002 Sydney Hobart Race was successfully organised and run despite the lack of a naming rights sponsor, the funding from the Rolex sponsorship would enable the CYCA to go ahead with innovative concepts that would further enhance the race for competitors and continue to lift its international status in ocean yacht racing.
The 630 nautical mile Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, is expected to attract even more international entries than it did last year when the fleet drew 14 yachts from overseas, including the eight boats in the Volvo Ocean Race.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia already has had enquiries about the 2002 race from yacht owners in Great Britain, France, Hungary, Sweden, New Zealand and the USA. With the America's Cup regatta being held in Auckland from October 2002 through to March 2003, many super yachts are expected to be in Australasian waters next summer, with several yachts likely to include the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race in their program.
Notice of Race for the 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is expected to be available from the CYCA in early April.