The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has long been known as one of the most challenging ocean races in the world, with owners, crews, and designers all pushing their boats to the limit hoping for victory. This year, the race is in its 72nd edition and features an exciting entry list of nearly 100 boats. The annual 628 mile offshore classic will once again start in Sydney Harbour on Boxing day – Monday, December 26th. The competitors will make their way out of Sydney Harbour and down the southeast coast of Australia, before crossing the Bass Strait in the open Southern Ocean. Once across the Bass Strait, the course passes the iconic Organ Pipes before sailing up the Derwent River to finish in Hobart, Tasmania.
Reichel/Pugh yachts have enjoyed a storied history in the Sydney Hobart Race, with multiple line honours, overall wins, and course records. In 1996, the 80’ Morning Glory, owned by Hasso Plattner was first to finish and set a new race record of 2 days, 14 hours amid a 95 boat fleet, inaugurating the era of R/P successes in this race. In 2002, Neville Crichton continued the Reichel/Pugh legacy, sailing his 90’ Alfa Romeo to a line honours win.
Then came the days of Wild Oats XI, an impressive yacht which has been a perennial winner of the Sydney Hobart Race for years and a benchmark for all other supermaxis that have been launched since. The first success for Wild Oats XI was in the 2005 edition of the race, when, just 24 days after her launch, the newly minted 100’ yacht managed an unprecedented trifecta win, claiming line honours, overall victory, and setting a new course record. Her time of 1 day, 18 hours shaved more than an hour off the previous record and was all the more impressive considering she raced her sistership – Neville Crichton’s new 100’ Alfa Romeo – which already had a season of practice and was the very inspiration for building Wild Oats XI.
Wild Oats XI was lovingly campaigned by the late Bob Oatley each year and always kept in top form. She went on to become a fixture of the race, winning line honours again in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014 for a record 8 times, with the 2012 win representing another overall win and race record as well.
Neville Crichton’s 100’ Alfa Romeo did also win the race in the 2009 edition when she took line honours and interrupted Wild Oats XI’s reign.
Of the four editions in which Reichel/Pugh yachts have claimed the coveted Tattersall’s Cup for overall victory, two have been Wild Oats XI in 2005 and 2012, while in 2010, the winner was Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Men’s Business 3.5 and in 2011 was Stephen Ainsworth’s powerful new 63’ Loki.
For the 2016 edition of the race, Wild Oats XI will once again headline the supermaxi fleet of 100’ yachts, hoping for another line honours victory and, weather permitting, a run at the record. Prior to last year’s race, the yacht had just completed modifications to the bow, which have proved highly successful, but she was forced to retire after sustaining mainsail damage on the first night. This year should see a Wild Oats XI that is faster than ever, once again led by veteran skipper Mark Richards.
The R/P designed 66’ yacht Alive is entered in this edition and will undoubtedly be looking to continue what has already been a winning season. Originally launched in 2006 as Stark Raving Mad from Westerly Marine in California for owner Jim Madden, the yacht has always been a thrill to sail and a top performer with its innovative canting keel arrangement. After being sold to Peter Harburg, the boat was campaigned as Black Jack for a number of years before Philip Turner took ownership in 2014 and began racing it with the Alive team. This year they have racked up an overall win at the Royal Langkawi International Regatta, line honours and a new race record in the Rolex China Sea Race, and an overall win in the Brisbane to Keppel Race.
Primitive Cool , the R/P 51’ design launched in 2009 as Secret Men’s Business 3.5 from Hart Marine and now owned by John Newbold will return to the race this year after a strong performance last year, which saw their team finish fourth overall and second in their division. As seasoned veterans of the race on a proven boat, the team can be expected to make a strong showing again this year.
The R/P 46’ Hartbreaker will be competing in this year’s Sydney Hobart Race. Owned by Antony Walton & Alan Breidahl since 2013, this yacht was originally launched in 2005 as Secret Men’s Business 2 from Hart Marine, as the current name would imply. The boat has been raced in the Sydney Hobart each year since Walton and Breidahl took ownership and has finished 49th, 66th, and 41st overall in the 2013, 2014, 2015 editions respectively. With more than 3 years’ experience now on this boat, the crew is surely keen to crack the top 40 this year and hopefully will go even further in this highly competitive fleet.
The final R/P entry for the 2016 Sydney Hobart race, but certainly not least is the 40’ Chutzpah owned by Bruce Taylor. Bruce and his son Drew Taylor have campaigned this design successfully since it was launched in 2007 from Hart Marine. Most notably, in the 2014 edition of the Sydney Hobart Race, Chutzpah was favored to take the overall victory after finishing just ahead of a weather system and in the lead on corrected time. The weather did not cooperate however, allowing another boat to slip ahead on corrected time, landing the team in second overall – an incredible accomplishment in this race nonetheless. The Chutzpah team has more than a lifetime of Sydney Hobart races between them all and Drew will reach his 25th race this year onboard, having sailed all of them together with his father. This team will undoubtedly be one to watch this year.
The Reichel/Pugh team wishes the very best of luck and fair winds to all the teams competing in the 2016 edition of the race. We are fortunate to work with some of the most passionate owners in the sport, who have raced our designs to success and continue to leave a lasting legacy of Reichel/Pugh yachts in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.