From the fastest to the slowest, the most successful and the most historic, some key facts from the 72-year history of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the world's most famous southern hemisphere offshore race

1 – The race is organised annually by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) and begins on 26 December.

2 – Australian Bob Oatley’s 100ft Wild Oats IX has won line honours a record eight times (2005-2008, 2010 and 2012-2013) and is going for an ninth line honours win this year.

3 – The first race was in 1945 and came about as a result of the suggestion of British naval officer and keen yachtsman John Illingworth.

4 – Illingworth won the first race in his 35ft double-ended cutter Rani, finishing in 6 days, 14 hours and 22 minutes

5 – The course record is 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds and was set in 2012 by the supermaxi Wild Oats XI .

6 – This year the race for line honours will be contested by three 100ft super maxis: Wild Oats XI, Perpetual Loyal and Ludde Ingvall’s brand new and as yet unproven CQS, a radical looking design by Simonis Voogd/Bakewell-White.

CQS Sydney Hobart Race 2016

CQS Sydney Hobart Race 2016

Read more about the favourites for line honours here

7 – The smallest yacht to win overall on handicap was Screiv Loose in 1979. She was 30ft (9.1m) overall.

8 – The smallest ever fleet was in the first race in 1945, which had just 9 entries.

9 – The largest fleet ever to do the race was in 1994, on the 50th anniversay, when 371 yachts started, and 309 finished.

10 – This year, 90 yachts are taking part.

11 – The slowest elapsed time belongs to the 40ft yawl Wayfarer, which belonged to Peter Luke, a co-founder of the CYCA. In the first race in 1945 he finished in 11 days, 6 hours and 20 minutes.

12 – The 1998 race made global headlines when a hurricane-force storm tore across the fleet. Five boats sank, six people died.

1998 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

1998 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race


13 – On average, some 17 per cent of the fleet retires.

14 – A resulting report recommended changes to preparations and sea survival training that came to be a step change in ocean racing worldwide.

15 – The oldest skipper to date was John Walker who raced in 2008 aged 86. He retired then – he and and his boat had achievemd the milestone of 25 Sydney-Hobarts.

16 – The most successful designer of overall winners has been Bruce Farr, with 17 overall winners.

17 – This year professional navigator Adrienne Cahalan becomes the most ‘capped’ female Sydney Hobart racer. She is taking part in her 25th race, navigating Syd Fischer’s TP 52 Ragamuffin, skippered by his grandson Brenton.

18 – The youngest participant was Perth yachtsman Rolly Tasker’s four-year-old daughter, whom he took along in his maxi, Siska, in the 1970s. There have been a number of teenage skippers and crew, including in 2011 the Australian and British round the world sailors Jessica Watson and Mike Perham, then 19 and 19, sailing with the youngest ever crew – ten people aged under 22.

19 – It is a race tradition to celebrate on New Year’s Eve at the Customs House Hotel in Hobart

20 – Over 50,000 crew have completed the race during its 70 years.