Light winds are expected for the Sydney Hobart race which starts on Thursday

The most recent weather forecast shows that competitors will have to face light winds in the 630-mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Race which starts on Thursday 26 December. While this will undoubtedly please many of the competitors, some of the more fancied maxi yachts might suffer and have their chances of line honours dashed.

The light south-easterly sea breeze of just 5-10 knots will gradually move around to the north-east on Friday, still light but gradually picking up to 15-20 knots on Saturday. It will not be until Sunday that winds will really strengthen, and by then most of the fleet should have arrived in Hobart.

For the race record to be broken a lot will depend on the first 24 hours. Skippers of quick boats like the Volvo 60s will be hoping for as much east in the breeze as possible, so that they can break out their Code Zeros, their huge light wind headsails that can deliver exceptional performance in very light winds.

One of the largest yachts hoping for line honours is Neville Crichton’s 90ft maxi Alfa Romeo but she’s going to have to face some tough competition with the likes of the 97ft British downwind flyer Canon, also on the start line.

In the early light south-easterly, Canon will need to hang on to the quicker Alfa Romeo and hope that the forecasters underestimated the strength of the north-easter when the wind finally swings.

In the race for overall handicap positions the smaller boats in the fleet will relish not only a less bumpy ride south than usual, but also the prospect of a slow race, at least in the first days, improving their chances on corrected time.

They will hope that once the bigger boats are safely in Constitution dock stronger winds will allow their small boats to pick up time and achieve a somewhat rare honour of winning the race overall.