Beauties and big boats on Sydney Harbour

Leopard 3 - "City Index" during practice sailing in Sydney before the 2007 Rolex Sydney-Hobart
Sydney Harbour will come alive on Tuesday 11 December with a bevy of beauties and big boats when the annual SOLAS Big Boat Challenge maxi race fires up the countdown to the start of the 2007 Rolex Sydney Hobart.

Many of the largest boats in town for the Rolex Sydney Hobart will come together for the invitation-only event which although largely a fun race, is a traditional and always spectacular form guide to the looming line honours contest.

The Volvo 60 Hugo Boss II, line honours winner of the 2001 Sydney Hobart sailing as Assa Abloy, arrived into Sydney Harbour last night from Newcastle. On board Hugo Boss II for this Tuesday’s 14 nautical mile Harbour course will be actor Daniel MacPherson, model, singer and TV personality Erika Heynatz and model, actress and TV presenter Annalise Braakensiek.

The latest ETA into Sydney for Grant Wharington’s 30m Skandia, which is being delivered from Melbourne, is late this evening. The skipper and race crew will fly in tomorrow morning before the maxi heads out for a training run in the afternoon to prepare for Tuesday’s race.

Bob Oatley’s 30m Wild Oats XI had a successful first sail with its new rig yesterday afternoon, dwarfing the Etchells fleet as it weaved around within the confines of Sydney Harbour. This afternoon Wild Oats XI has gone offshore for another test sail before Tuesday’s SOLAS Big Boat Challenge.

Skipper Mark Richards was delighted with yesterday’s first sail with their new mast, commenting 'It went really well, there were no dramas...our confidence is really up.'

Sailing aficionados are eagerly awaiting the first glimpses of the TP65 Rosebud, which will make its Australian racing debut this coming Tuesday. Roger Sturgeon’s US based Rosebud, which is also entered in the Rolex Trophy Rating Series (13-16 December) and the Rolex Sydney Hobart, is a cutting edge design that hasn’t been seen before in this country.

Andrew Short Marine Brindabella and Ichi Ban, with their winning eBay bidders aboard, have entered as has Peter Hanburg’s Spirit of Queensland, the former pocket rocket AAPT, Leslie Green’s Swan 60 Ginger and Denis O’Neil’s day racer Atomic.

Entries so far total 14 with up to six more expected by the close of entries at midday tomorrow, Monday 10 December.

The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge is one of Sydney’s most spectacular sporting and Harbour events. It will start off Steele Point, Vaucluse, at 12.30pm on Tuesday 11 December and will take the fleet twice around Sydney Harbour, passing many of Sydney’s famous landmarks including Fort Denison, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and the Opera House, the finish point.

Tuesday’s forecast is for cool 15-25 knot south east winds and a few showers. -