Healthy entry with one month to go until entry deadline for Rolex Sydney Hobart race 4/10/07

With exactly one month to go to the close of applications for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht organisers say there is already a healthy fleet of 25, nominated for the event including entries from Australia, the UK, New Zealand and Mexico.

A number of records are on the cards this year with Bob Oatley’s 30m Wild Oats XI, the current race record holder with a time of 1 day 18 hours 40 minutes 10 seconds, preparing to attempt a hat trick of line honours wins despite suffering a major setback last month.

Wild Oats XI is currently on its way back to Sydney on a ship from Porto Cervo, Sardinia, where disaster struck during the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup when the yacht’s mast exploded mid-race. If all goes to plan, skipper Mark Richards believes Oatley’s pride and joy will be back on the water by late November, in time for the Rolex Trophy lead-up series. “The new rig is well underway and we are full steam ahead,” said Richards.

Only one other boat has achieved the line honours treble in the race’s 63 year history. Claude Plowman’s Morna consecutively beat the rest of the fleet across the finish line off Hobart’s historic Battery Point in the 1946, 1947 and 1948 Sydney Hobarts.

At 80 years of age, Victoria’s sea faring senior Lou Abrahams is aiming to set a new benchmark for the most Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races undertaken by an individual. Last year he equalled the record of 44 and while he hinted at retirement at the time, the lure of one more bash south has proved too strong for Abrahams who has already submitted an application for entry for his Sydney 38 called Challenge.

At 85, John Walker (Impeccable) is fighting fit and ready to attempt his 24th Rolex Sydney Hobart and to rewrite the history books by becoming the oldest skipper to race to Hobart.

International entries were strong last year and this year’s line up so far point towards another impressive contingent of overseas yachts.

So far the CYCA has received nominations for the New Zealand 30m maxi Maximus (Bill Buckley), one of the high profile casualties last year when the boat’s radical wing mast crashed to the deck in the early hours of the first morning at sea.

An application for Mike Slade’s brand-new UK based 30m maxi Leopard has also been lodged. Slade is hoping to prevent Wild Oats XI’s hat trick and realise the second of two ambitions for his latest Leopard – line honours in the Rolex Fastnet Race, which he easily achieved in the heavy weather race in August this year, and line honours in the 628 nautical mile race across the Tasman Sea to Hobart.

Two more UK yachts have been nominated and for the first time ever, a Mexican boat has applied to enter. Cruising to Sydney from Acapulco Yacht Club to compete, Marcos Rodriguez’s Beneteau 40.7 Iataia is certain to spice up the expected fleet of 80 yachts.

The fleet for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart will be announced at the organising club, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, on the morning of Tuesday 13 November.