Early Hobart race entrants
Ross, absent from the sailing scene due to pressure of business since he skippered his previous yacht Yendys to victory in the 1999 Sydney Hobart Race, has bought the Mediterranean-based Banco Espirito Santo, the top IMS-rated grand prix offshore yacht in Europe last season.
Today he lodged an application to enter the 2003 Rolex Sydney Yacht Hobart, bringing to seven the nominations already received by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
Another application to enter received today was that Pale Ale Rager, owned by prominent Adelaide yachtsman and medico Gary Shanks, the third South Australian boat to nominate for this year’s 59th annual Hobart Race.
CYCA Commodore John Messenger described as “most encouraging” the positive interest being shown in the Rolex Sydney Hobart more than four months before the start of this icon of Australian summer sport. “I am confident we will have an excellent and larger fleet this year,” he added.
The new Yendys (Sydney spelt backwards) is a Judel Vrolijk 52, designed by Rolf Vrolijk, head of the design team behind the America's Cup winning yacht Alinghi.
The boat will be shipped to Australia immediately after the completion of the current Mediterranean racing season. Ross said today he hoped to contest most of the regattas races leading up to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which starts on 26 December 2003.
Ross has assembled an outstanding crew to reinforce his chances of scoring an Overall IMS handicap win, including Australia's Grant Simmer and illbruck Challenge navigator, Juan Vila. Simmer was navigator of Australia II for the 1983 America's Cup win and acted as design coordinator for Alinghi this year while Vila was navigator for the winning illbruck team in the last Volvo Ocean Race around the world.
The nomination of Pale Ale Rager will also see the return of South Australia’s fastest yacht to the Sydney Hobart fleet, with the two other boats from that State being Geoff Catt’s Liberator and David Barnfield’s Reprieve.
Other applications to enter the 2003 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race include Rod Skellett’s Krakatoa, Sydney 32-footer which recently contested the 2,225 nautical mile Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu, Craig Coulsen’s Trumpcard from Brisbane, and the former Volvo Ocean Challenge 60—footer Djuice, now owned by Sydney yachtsman Andrew Short and racing as Andrew Short Marine Djuice.