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VIDEO: A summer classic Down Under

There are numerous iconic bluewater yacht races — England’s Fastnet, the Volvo Ocean Race, the Vendee Globe. Australia has the Rolex Sydney Hobart race.

During the last 68 years “The Hobart” has become an icon of Australia’s summer racing, beginning the day after Christmas (Boxing Day) with a diverse fleet of amateur and professional sailors departing Sydney Harbor with great fanfare to race 630 miles to the southern Australian island of Tasmania.

The winner’s pace was not record-setting, but the 100-foot yacht Wild Oats XI took the line honors win, crossing the finish line off Battery Point in Hobart on Dec. 28 with an elapsed time of 2 days, 6 hours, 7 minutes and 27 seconds. It was the seventh line honors win for Aussie skipper Mark Richards, who is also the founder, president and CEO of Palm Beach Motor Yachts (see his profile in the January issue of Soundings).

Day 5 on Dec. 30 still saw slower boats make their way to the finish after battling challenging conditions in the Tasman Sea, which is known for weather that is sometimes treacherous.

The infamous storm-battered 1998 Sydney Hobart race was the most disastrous in the history of the event with the loss of six lives and five yachts.

The race organizers, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, confirmed Monday that Darryl Hodgkinson’s Cookson 50, Victoire, was the official overall winner of the 69th edition of the race.

At a dockside presentation, owner/skipper Hodgkinson received the Tattersall’s Cup and a Rolex timepiece, according to the official race site. A plastic surgeon from Sydney, Hodgkinson reportedly bought the boat as a birthday present for himself.

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