Super maxi yachts will have the potential to be significantly faster in this year's 61st Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

Super maxi yachts will have the potential to be significantly faster in this year’s 61st Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race because, while their maximum overall length has been locked in at 30m, there will no longer be a rating-based speed limit.

Existing and new super maxis will be able to carry the largest sail area considered practical and safe by their designers, something that has been restricted for many years under rules for the Rolex Sydney Hobart.

Prominent Sydney-based, New Zealand yachtsman Neville Crichton is already building a new, maximum-sized Reichel/Pugh-designed super maxi for the 61st Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, scheduled for launching in June. Other yacht owners in Australia and New Zealand are also considering new, faster boats.

The Board of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia confirmed the decisions made early last year that the overall maximum length of competing yachts will continue at 30m (98ft) but the rating speed limit will be removed for the first time for many years.

The Board also confirmed that the overall winner will be the boat that wins IRC overall, as it was for the 2004 race.

Announcing the decisions, Commodore Martin James said there would again be a Cruising Division for the 61st Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. “I am confident that the early confirmation of our decisions on maximum length and the removal of a rated based speed limit, together with continued use of the IRC handicap system to determine the winner of the historic Tattersalls Cup will attract more national and international competition.

“IRC continues to expanded worldwide, notably in recent months in the US where is has been given new status by yachting organisations.

“With earlier notice of a Cruising division, we believe there will be added Australian and international interest in this aspect of our great ocean race,” he added.

Pointing to the 60th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Commodore James said the introduction of IRC had made the vast majority of the 116 starters eligible for the prestigious Tattersalls Cup.

“The final results indicate the success of IRC in providing a level playing field for a wide range of boats, with the first ten boats on IRC corrected time overall ranging from 38ft to 98ft, from production boats to custom-built super maxis, from a 31-year-old wood boat to state-of-the-art boats made of carbon fibre.” Commodore James added.

The Commodore added that the CYCA had confirmed its decisions for the 2005 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race after ongoing consultation with yacht owners and would continue to keep the position of offshore handicap rating rules under constant review.