|SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA-(26-12-2004) Sixty years ago today, a fleet of nine wooden yachts, their sails made of cotton, their rigging galvanized wire, and most of them without radio communications set sail in the inaugural Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Today, at 1.10pm, a state-of-the-art fleet of ocean racers, the latest ones built of carbon fibre, with masts, booms and even sails made of similar material, will set sail on the 60th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
As was the case in 1945, a large fleet of spectator craft will be on the Harbour to farewell the fleet, while many will watch the colourful event from the headlands. The fleet, of course, will be much larger – 116 boats, including several from overseas - will line up for the two-line start north of Shark Island, and so will the spectatators – with up to 3000 craft expected on the water and up to 400,000 people watching from ashore.
Again, like the 1945 race, the fleet can expect freshening north-easterly breezes as the boats sail down the New South Wales South Coast this afternoon and tonight, reaching 20-25 knots overnight ahead of a south-westerly change on Monday, when winds will strengthen to 25-30 knots, possibly reaching 40 knots offshore.
However, while seas will rise the Bureau of Meteorology’s forecast is that they will be between 3 and 4 metres on a low swell.
After a cloudy Christmas Day, Boxing Day in Sydney will be warm and sunny with light south-east to easterly breezes forecast for the start which will freshen and back to the north-east at 13-18 knots during this afternoon. Tonight, the northerly winds will increase to 20-30 knots along the Illawarra Coast ahead of Monday’s change.
The Port of Sydney is closed from 9am to 4pm and an exclusion zone for the race start will apply from 11am to 2pm, marked clearly by yellow buoys. A fleet of 40 control boats will help marshal the spectator fleet.
At 11.45am, competitors from early races, including two boats from the first race, will take part in a Parade of Sail.