The Sydney To Hobart yacht race is one of the major reasons why Boxing Day in Australia is so great, and we are set for an outstanding edition of the time-honoured contest in 2018.
Just under 100 yachts will cast off from Sydney Harbour at 1pm AEDT on Wednesday, December 26th for the 74th edition of the Sydney To Hobart, including five super maxis and thirteen international entries.
2018 Sydney to Hobart betting currently has reigning champion Comanche as the $2.50 favourite to claim line honours, from eight-time champion Wild Oats XI ($3), Scallywag ($5) and Black Jack, the only other yacht currently displaying single-figure odds ($8).
Only a small number of yachts are given any real chance of taking line honours in the Sydney to Hobart each yeah and betting suggests that there are five live hopes of claiming the coveted title in 2018.
Jim Cooney’s decision to purchase Comanche late last year immediately paid dividends when he skippered the super maxi to a line honours victory, twenty years after tasting success in the race aboard Brindabella.
The result was contentious, however – Wild Oats XI was first past the post but was handed a one-hour penalty after a near collision only minutes into the race.
Now a two-time winner of Australia’s greatest yacht race and the fastest time record holder, Comanche won the final lead-up race to the Sydney to Hobart; the Bird Island Race earlier this month.
She has won four major training races in the lead-up to her Sydney to Hobart defence in total and set three new race records, including both the Newcastle Bass Island and Cabbage Tree Island races.
Wild Oats XI
Wild Oats XI proved in 2017 that she is still well and truly a force to be reckoned with and she looms as a live threat in the Sydney to Hobart once more.
No doubt that last year’s performance and result will still be fresh in the minds of skipper Mark Richards and co. and they will be eager to respond in the best way possible this year.
Her lead-up to the Bluewater Classic has also been good – she took out the annual Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour last week and showed plenty of speed.
Scallywag has had a major refit since the 2017 race and a good performance is expected of the Hong Kong-based super maxi this year.
The team, rich with fresh faces in 2018, were put through their paces in an intense training camp in the Philippines in late September and will be skippered by owner Seng Huang Lee once more on Boxing Day.
After sitting third for most of Big Boat Challenge last week, Scallywag was pipped for a podium position by InfoTrack, but she is another yacht that will come into her own out in the ocean.
As Alfa Romeo, Black Jack claimed line honours in the Sydney to Hobart in 2009 and she looms as a live threat again this year, having finished a credible third in 2017.
Black Jack started the new season in the best way possible when she claimed line honours in the Sydney Gold Coast race; a result that has instilled skipper Mark Bradford and her crew with plenty of confidence given she beat both Comanche and Wild Oats XI.
Owner Peter Harburg has been successful in assembling one of the field’s most talented crews and Black Jack could prove to be the real value in 2018 Sydney to Hobart betting at her current price in both the line honours and overall markets.
In owner Christian Beck’s own words, Infotrack’s performance for twenty-fourth in the 2017 Sydney to Hobart was “embarrassing”, particularly having claimed line honours only twelve months prior.
The crew will be desperate to atone for that result and they appear to be ready to fire after a smart performance to pip Scallywag for third in the Big Boat Challenge last week.
Conditions are absolutely key to Infotrack’s success this year and if the fleet find themselves in a tough upwind bash, she will be right in the thick of things.
Tattersalls Cup (Handicap)
Considered Australia’s foremost offshore sailing prize, the Tattersall’s Cup is awarded to the handicap winner of the Sydney to Hobart.
Unlike line honours, virtually every yacht in the Sydney to Hobart fleet has a chance of winning the Tattersalls Cup and typically it is taken by a yacht in a class just below Super Maxi level.
Ichi Ban ($3)
The reigning Tattersall’s Cup champion and the clear favourite in betting to successfully defend their crown in 2018.
Ichi Ban won this year’s famed Brisbane-Gladstone race as well as the Flinders Island race, the Newcastle Bass Island race and the Airlie Beach race.
If she is successful in taking out the 2018 Tattersall’s Cup, Ichi Ban will become only the third boat in the race’s history to go back-to-back.
Winning Appliances ($13)
Winning Appliances is a Carkeek 60 and could prove to be the major value in Tattersall’s Cup betting at her current quote.
Skippered by John Winning Jnr, Winning Appliances has recorded several promising results in the lead-up to this year’s Sydney to Hobart and edged out Wild Oats X to win overall honours at the Big Boat Challenge.