Unlike the previous two editions of the Rolex Sydney Hobart, no race record was set this year but it was undoubtedly a race with many interesting moments.
Success is not only measured by trophies and accolades but by collective and individual achievements which reward personal sacrifices and those who overcome the race's many obstacles. By the final prize giving on 31 December, all remaining yachts including the smallest in the fleet, the 30-ft Gun Runner, had long crossed the finish line. Some were able to toast class victories, others personal milestones, united by a sense of enjoyment and camaraderie.
The 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, contested by a hugely diverse and competitive 85-strong fleet, crewed by experienced and talented sailors, provided a reminder of the race’s relentless and changeable manner. For the two winners of the 74th edition’s main prizes, achievements rewarded with Rolex timepieces, calculated tactical decisions made in high pressure, ‘no turning back’, situations proved crucial.
In claiming overall victory on IRC handicap, Phillip Turner and his crew on Alive brought the Tattersall Cup back to Tasmania after a 39-year absence. For the Oatley family-owned Wild Oats XI, the first finisher, it represents an 11th success at the event, nine line honours titles together with the overall victories secured in the record-breaking years of 2005 and 2012. From the spectacular, sun-kissed Sydney Harbour start, it was a race which offered a range of conditions and situations from parking lots to punishing winds.
The 628-nautical mile race, organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) with the support of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, has been partnered by Rolex since 2002. A memorable edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart concludes a year in which Rolex marked the 60th anniversary of its relationship with the sport of yachting.
We shouldn’t forget this year’s anniversary since this year’s race also provided a poignant moment for reflection, marking 20 years since the 1998 edition of the race when six sailors tragically lost their lives following a severe storm, similar in strength to a low-class hurricane, in the Bass Strait.
As a tribute to those who lost their lives, David Kellett who sailed in that edition of the race, and now leads the team on the race radio relay vessel, addressed the fleet on 27 December with the words spoken by the CYCA Commodore, Hugo Van Kretschmar, at the post-race memorial service held at Constitution Dock in 1998.
The 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart will start on Thursday 26 December, 2019 and marks a special edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart. The CYCA are forecasting the presence of a sizeable fleet for the 75th anniversary race, entrants eager to take on one of the most beautiful land- and seascapes in the world. For those who accept the challenge, the planning starts now. The Rolex Sydney Hobart demands immense preparation for boat and crew; next year’s race like all those which have gone before it will test the resolve, skill and mettle of even the most experienced sailor.