For the first time in the history of the Canon Big Boat Challenge, state of the art yachts with canting keels will compete in the annual spectacle that brings together the biggest and best of Sydney's visiting and resident million dollar maxi yachts.
Grant WHARINGTON'S brand new 98-footer Skandia will headline the event, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, on Friday December 12. Skandia took line honours in every race of the JPMorgan regatta, sailed off Sydney Heads on the weekend, despite using old sails.
"We were underpowered downwind as we were using old spinnakers…our new ones for the Canon Big Boat Challenge and the Rolex Trophy Series will be 100 square metres bigger,"
Grant said yesterday.
The first yacht with a canting keel in Australia, Bob Oatley's 65-foot Admiral's Cup winner Wild Oats has accepted an invitation to compete, as has Ludde Ingvall with his recently optimised 80-footer Nicorette, and Denis O'Neil with his 52-foot harbour racer Atomic.
"World yachting is moving at a rapid pace and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia recognises that canting keels are a part of today and the future,"
said CYCA Rear Commodore Roger HICKMAN.
"Like Canon, we are willing to embrace state of the art technology that can make yachts faster and more efficient."
This annual preview to the line honours contenders for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has so far attracted a line up of 13 yachts ranging from 52 to 98 feet, with at least another eight or more yachts expected to enter.
In the 50 foot and high rating IRC grand prix racer class, David PESCUD'S KAZ, which completed a successful non-stop circumnavigation of Australia this year with a crew of disabled sailors, has been entered as has Geoff & Pip LAVIS' Inglis 52 UBS Wild Thing, and Atomic.
In the 60-foot class, the renovated round-the-world yacht Broomstick (Michael CRANITCH and Ray WALLACE), the two Sydney 60 Eureka II (Bob ROBERTSON) and Sydney (Charles CURRAN), the Volvo 60 Andrew Short Marine (Andrew SHORT) and the modified 66-footer Grundig (Sean LANGMAN) have been entered.
Australian Admiral's Cup winning skipper Colin O'NEIL has also entered his 60-footer Aftershock for its second attempt at a handicap win in this event.
George SNOW'S Brindabella, which has never missed a Canon Big Boat Challenge and has taken line honours five times, and Nicorette will lead the charge down the harbour for the 80-footers.
"Canon has once again put its name to this clash of the titans and can expect another hard-fought battle amongst those at the big end of town,"
CYCA CEO Joe GODDARD said.
"As well as the canting keels, the other point of difference this year is that the managing director of Canon Australia, Mr Shuichi TSUKAHARA will fire the 19th Century replica cannons, that are used to start the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of this event and Canon's support."
The multi-million dollar fleet will go head-to-head on Sydney Harbour for the 14 nautical mile Canon Big Boat Challenge, which starts north of Shark Island at 12.30pm on Friday December 12 and takes the fleet twice around the harbour before finishing at the Opera House.
Spectators are encouraged to view the action from the water or the many foreshore vantage points including Bradleys Head, Darling Point, Lady Macquarie's Chair and the Opera House.