Sydney to Hobart could be ‘too close to call’


Related Story: Why the Sydney to Hobart is more than just a race for the super-maxi yachts

This year's Sydney to Hobart yacht race could be one of the most exciting in recent history, according to the super-maxi skippers battling for line honours.

More than 100 yachts will start in a light easterly breeze on Boxing Day.

The wind is forecast to swing to the north-east and strengthen as the boats track down the New South Wales coast.

Four super maxis — Wild Oats XI, Black Jack, Comanche and InfoTrack — will contest the race.

Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards has predicted an "excellent" race between the 100-footers.

"You've basically got the four fastest hundred-footers on the planet in the race, which I think is an amazing feat in itself," Richards said.

Wild Oats XI sailing on Sydney Harbour.

'Muscular' Comanche a strong favourite

The north-easterly winds will mean plenty of downwind sailing, which is expected to favour Jim Cooney's Comanche.

Jim Cooney said any of the super-maxis could claim line honours.

"I think we're looking at one of the most intense and exiting races for a long period of time," Cooney said

"The conditions are good for all of us and there'll be parts of the race where one boat will shine over another, whether it's light, whether it's heavy, whether it's reaching or running.

"There's certainly a period of time where we think we'll be sitting in very good conditions for Comanche."

Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford said: "When the breeze gets up, Comanche's going to be strong.

"It's a 100-footer, but with the most amount of muscle."

But Bradford said Comanche would be weaker when the breeze was light and that was when his crew hoped to take the advantage.

"The first bit suits us and hopefully the last bit suits us, because that's all that matters."

'Shitbox' InfoTrack an outside chance

A newcomer to ocean racing, Christian Beck bought last year's winner Perpetual Loyal.

InfoTrack skipper Tom Slingsby with the Line Honours trophy.

He said his yacht, now called InfoTrack, was an unlikely winner.

"I'd probably go so far as to say that InfoTrack is probably the shitbox of the super-maxi fleet," Beck said.

But, InfoTrack skipper Tom Slingsby said: "These guys are pretty strong, but if we get our conditions, we've shown … that this boat can go really fast.

"Hopefully we get a bit of our conditions as well. It doesn't look like it too much, but you never know, it's a Sydney to Hobart race."

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