The Clipper Race fleet could be in store for a record breaking trip to Hobart, with the long-range weather forecast predicting perfect conditions for the medium sized vessels in the fleet for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which doubles as Race 5 of the Clipper 2017-18 Race.
Whilst the supermaxis like Wild Oats XI and Comanche might push to the finish line, the eleven Clipper 70s and the two Clipper 68s should enjoy the 628 nautical mile course. A route which take them out of the famous Sydney Harbour into the Tasman sea, before back out to go down the east coast of Australia to cross the Bass Strait for the east coast of Tasmania, then it’s the final turn to sail down the Derwant River into the historic port city of Hobart.
The NSW Bureau of Meteorology’s Jane Golding says the race could start under an east-south easterly of around 10 knots, with the wind swinging around to the north east on Boxing Day evening and increasing from 15 to 25 knots over the following 24 hours.
Jane Golding explains: “The evening of the 26th it should be a 15 knot north easterly over the 27th it should be 20 to 25 knots particularly as you [the fleet] reach bass strait on the 28th that’s where the models diverge at this moment but the most likely scenario is the north easterly will remain.
“This is due to a high-pressure system sitting in the Tasman sea that becomes established on the 26th and is strong enough to block any fronts coming up into Tasmanian waters, the fronts bring the southerly changes and that’s the reason for the consistent north easterly.”
Mark Light, Clipper Race Director, comments on what these conditions might mean for the Clipper Race fleet: “The signs are that it will be a swift downwind passage down to Hobart this year. Great conditions are forecast at the moment and we should see the spinnakers coming out very early and as soon as the fleet clears Sydney Heads.
“Moderate downwind conditions coupled with the southward flowing East Australian Current will make for a fast race with the winds picking up during the second half of the race.
“Tactically, the choice of when to make the gybes heading south could be the key to a winning formula. Let’s see what develops.”
And for the many Clipper Race supporters planning to be out on the water? It looks to be a mild and partly cloudy day following a warm Christmas. All signs point to a fantastic start to the 73rd edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The Race starts at 1300 Local Australian Eastern Time (0200 UTC) on 26 December with the fleet expected to arrive in Hobart between 30 – 31 December, just in time for spectacular New Years eve celebrations.