While the serious racing crews at the front of the pack will be flexing their muscles around the 14-mile Canon Big Boat Challenge course tomorrow, December 12, there will be one crew enjoying the view from astern.
Weighing in at 110 tonnes and with a towering 134-foot mast, 40-foot boom and an on board 'garage' for the tender, the 112-foot Swan, Pacific Freedom (Bill IRELAND), needs a bigger runway than Sydney Harbour to build sufficient speed, so their race plan for Friday is to relax and let the boat's fully automated systems do the hard work.
While this giant cruising boat will represent the luxury end of the fleet, most of the remaining entries are stripped-out racing maxis that will go head to head in a fortnight's time in a less friendly environment.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race line honours contenders Skandia (Grant WHARINGTON), Nicorette (Ludde INGVALL), Grundig (Sean LANGMAN), Brindabella (George SNOW) and three Volvo 60s Andrew Short Marine (Andrew SHORT), Nokia (Gray/Hodder/Sorensen/Zemanek) and Seriously TEN (Woodruff/James/Robinson) are amongst 20 entries received for tomorrow's maxi boat race.
The Canon Big Boat Challenge will mark the first and last opportunity for the much-awaited clash between the brand new 98-foot Victorian super maxi Skandia and the modified 80-footer Nicorette before the Boxing Day start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Both yachts will sail tomorrow with canting keels, a first for this event, as will the yacht that pioneered the concept in Australia, Bob OATLEY'S Wild Oats, and Denis O'NEIL'S Atomic.
Atomic is the Sydney businessman's latest state-of-the-art harbour racer and will be one of the most impressive looking boats in the fleet with its sleek black hull. It was modelled by designers Murray Burns Dovell on the successful America's Cup class yachts and is the only boat in the world to have a canting wing keel.
Olympic sailor Jamie WILMOT and his son Nathan,
who is currently ranked number one in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings for Olympic Classes in the Men's 470, are sure to prove themselves valuable crew aboard David FULLER'S yacht B3 while the highly experienced disabled crew of KAZ (David PESCUD) will be working hard to keep their 52-footer powered up.
The 79-foot Brindabella, a five-time line honours winner in this event, including the first Canon Big Boat Challenge in 1994, is lining up for another crack at the trophy and to be part of a spectacle that skipper George SNOW says: "brings exciting sailing to the people of Sydney."
To mark the 10th anniversary of the Canon Big Boat Challenge, the managing director of Canon Australia, Mr Shuichi TSUKAHARA will fire the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's 19th Century replica cannon from the aft deck of the Jerry Bailey to signal the 12.30pm (local time) start off Point Piper.
From there, the fleet will complete two and a half laps of the southern end of the Sydney Harbour before finishing off the Opera House.
Spectators are encouraged to view the action from the water or the many foreshore vantage points including Bradley's Head, Darling Point, Mrs. Macquarie's Chair and the Opera House.
The forecast for tomorrow is for SW/SE winds of 10/15 knots tending E/NE at 10/15 knots in the afternoon, perfect conditions for the pre-Rolex Sydney Hobart Race maxi showdown.
Yacht Sail No. (Owner/Skipper)
Aftershock 884 (Colin O'NEIL)
Andrew Short Marine NOR 2 (Andrew SHORT)
Atomic SYD 2 (Denis O'NEIL)
B3 67 (David FULLER)
Brindabella C 1 (George SNOW)
Broomstick 8848 (Michael CRANITCH & Ray WALLACE)
Eureka II 6037 (R. J. ROBERTSON)
Grundig A99 (Sean LANGMAN)
Ichi Ban 8880 (Matt ALLEN)
Infinity III 5474 (Martin JAMES)
KAZ 7878 (David PESCUD)
Nicorette SWE 11111 (Ludde INGVALL)
Nokia MH 888 (Mark GRAY / Julie HODDER / Peter SORENSEN / Stan ZEMANEK)
Pacific Freedom (Bill IRELAND)
Seriously TEN 8844 (John WOODRUFF / Eric ROBINSON / Shaun JAMES)
Skandia M10 (Grant WHARINGTON)
Sydney 6070 (Charles CURRAN)
UBS Wild Thing 1014 (Geoff LAVIS)
Wild Oats 7001 (Bob OATLEY)
Spirit AUS 21 (Steffan JACON / Iain MURRAY)