Take notes on Sydney Hobart 2021 >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News


Following the cancellation of 2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 77th edition of this Australian Boxing Day classic released its Notice of race for the 628 nm course. Here are some important points:

• The 2020 race was supposed to be the 76th edition, but as it was canceled, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia saw no reason to try this edition again. So in 2021 it’s the 77th edition.

• Of the notable 600nm races, the Sydney Hobart remains the only one to restrict participation in monohulls. No multihulls allowed.

• All crew members must be a minimum of 18 years old.

• The 2020 race was to include a doubles division for the first time. This will be tried again in 2021.

Two of the leading perpetual trophies, Overall winner and Line honors, will be reserved for boats with full crew. Two-player boats will have separate line and division rewards.

This last point was not without drama as the shorthanded sailors sought to be fully included, as evidenced by other races. The debate raged, even including litigation, but the point made by CYCA apparently relates to the performance advantage gained from autopilots.

Autopilots are not mentioned in the Notice of Race, and it is the technical advances in this equipment that have put pressure on how or if it should be regulated.

With sufficient investment, an autopilot now exceeds human capabilities, so for those participating in the two-handed division their boats are significantly lighter due to less crew compared to full-crew entries, with an increase rating that recognizes less stability, although the two- handed entrants remain short-staffed for maneuvering and endurance.

But with the trophy question decided for 2021, the focus will then be on which two-handed entrants have the elite autopilot gear, and how that will contribute to their divisional standings in Hobart. Standing…

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