Two Russian teams will take part in the 74th annual Rolex Sydney Hobart. A total of 92 teams from 10 countries will set sail from Sydney, Australia on December 26 on yachts from 9.2m to 30.5m. They will sail to the finish line in Hobart, Tasmania until New Year's Eve on 31 December.
The route of the race is designed for 628 nautical miles. After a joint start from Sydney Harbour, competitors will head south along the eastern edge of the wide, rugged Bass Strait and then up into Hobart on the famously fickle Derwent River.
In this distance, as in any race, experience, skill and perseverance are of course important, but what makes it particularly challenging is the high dependence of teams on weather conditions. For example, last year's winner, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commander and current Sailing Federation of Australia President, Matt Allen, only managed to finish the race on the 28th attempt.
«Rolex Sydney Hobart is a world class regatta. The whole world follows the race and knows the winners. It has taken a lifetime to win it. It's the dream of every sailor,»," said Allen after winning the Ichi Ban.
The Russians will try their luck in Australian waters on the 14.3-meter Sydney 46 SeaVentus Mahligai.
«SeaVentus Mahligai Alexandra Vodovatova of Russian Offshore Racing Club SeaVentus» is participating in the race for the third year in a row. This year another Russian crew, Weddell, also applied for the race but in November the 80ft 30-ton Maxi was caught in a fierce storm 500 miles south of the Cape of Good Hope and was badly damaged.
In addition to the two Russian crews, the race features 11 other teams from China, France, Germany, Hungary , Great Britain, Poland , Hong Kong (two crews) and the US (three crews).
«The boat Scallywag from Hong Kong is the only» foreigner among 100-footers. In total there will be five such yachts competing in this year's race. They include eight-time Rolex winner Sydney Hobart Wild Oats XI and 2017 winner Comanche, who holds the race's speed record of 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, 2 seconds.
In the current race, Australian skipper Tony Ellis will come close to the peculiar record. Riding the LC60 Triton for the 51st time from Sydney to Hobart.
His compatriot Tony Cable, who has competed in the Rolex Sydney Hobart more times than anyone else, has done it exactly the same.
Finally, standing out in its own way is the Australian all-girls team Ocean Respect Racing. Their 20m Wild Oats X is a serious contender to win the regatta.
» Despite its complexity, the Rolex Sydney Hobart is rightly regarded as the guardian of the spirit and values of «true sailing.
« Rolex Sydney Hobart is an example of what a sailing race should be: A challenge for the yachtsman away from shore, combined with an appealing mix of pros and amateurs», according to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who has forever written his name in sailing history as the first man to sail solo and non-stop around the world on a yacht.
In 2019, the organizers are going to make the 75th anniversary race special. It is expected to feature 135-140 boats that will combine to form the largest Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet in the last 25 years.
But all that will come later. In the meantime - we're just over a month away from the start of 2018.