"There has been some press speculation that the race itself was threatened due to the lack of a major sponsor", he said. "We are in fact proceeding without a naming rights sponsor, enabling us for the first time in many years to return to a race run under the Club’s own name".
"The Club’s sponsorship committee has obtained private sector support for this year’s race, and is in the process of negotiating with a party for future year’s events. We are very excited about the opportunities for our great race with that party, and anticipate making an announcement as to the arrangement by the end of February 2002", Commodore Sommer continued.
As to the 57th CYCA Sydney Hobart Yacht Race itself, international challengers swung their campaigns into top gear this week with the arrival by ship of two overseas maxi yachts.
Last year’s line honours winner, the Swedish maxi Nicorette, is already undergoing a major refurbishing in Sydney after arriving by ship last week following a hard campaign in Europe. The 80-footer will have new sails and a new keel fitted for the rugged 630 nautical mile race to Hobart but will be back in the water late next week before going on public display out of the water during a charity event at Darling Harbour.
The Polish maxi, Lodka Bols, also arrived by ship from Europe at the weekend, but owner/skipper Gordon Kay has chosen Melbourne to give the 80-footer a major refit. Most of the international crew of 23, including a number of Polish sailors, will not arrive until mid-December, and their qualifying sail aboard the 80-footer in Australian waters will be from Melbourne to Sydney, leaving on December 18.
Sydney yachtsman Sean Langman has also re-launched his skiff-like downwind flyer, Xena, now called Grundig, in striking new hull colours, with a new deep keel and six feet added to the transom, making the water-ballasted boat an Open 66.
Soon to hit the water again in Sydney is George Snow’s conventional maxi, Brindabella, her hull having been extended by five feet to the owner’s satisfied comment: "I’ve always wanted to own an 80-footer!"
As the maxi yachts undergo their modifications and refits, the action is already on the water for many of the 81 boat fleet entered for the 57th Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Melbourne’s new 42-footer, Don Jones’ Cadibarra, continued its unbeaten record under IMS handicaps in Victorian waters, winning the 200 nautical mile Bass Strait race from Queenscliff to Low Head.
In Sydney, veteran Syd Fischer is strongly campaigning for an IMS Overall victory in the Sydney Hobart Race with his Farr 50, Ragamuffin, taking top IMS honours in the 180 nautical mile Cabbage Tree Island Race. Only by 41 seconds behind on corrected time was Kevan Pearce’s Farr 47, SAP Ausmaid, the Overall IMS winner of last year’s Hobart Race, which took top honours under IRC handicaps in the Cabbage Tre Island Race.
This coming weekend, Tasmanian yachts heading north for the big race will be out in the ocean in the 189 nautical mile Maria Island Race, with the newly launched Beneteau 40.7, Vitesse, sailing her qualifying race along with other Tasmanian entries, B52 ((Hughie Lewis), Mirrabooka (John Bennetto) and Valheru (Tony Lyall).