The final weather forecast before the start of the Sydney to Hobart pointed to a fast and potentially record-breaking race.
A dream forecast has Sydney to Hobart supermaxis still on track for a potential race record.
The forecast on Boxing Day morning continued to show north easterlies through Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday.
“Having this forecast, an opportunity to try to get the record back is super important for the Wild Oats family,” Wild Oats XI tactician Ian Murray said.
“In all my 24 times of going down there, it’s never been as good as this.
“It’s very rare that you get this sort of continual up the wind across the wind, wind start to finish sort of scenario, it’s something we all dream about really.”
The main stumbling block to eclipsing Perpetual LOYAL’s 2016 race record of one day 13 hours 31 minutes and 20 seconds could be if the supermaxis become becalmed if they enter the Derwent River during a time when traditionally the wind shuts down.
“The numbers suggest the race record is easily achievable for I think any of the maxi boats,” Murray said.
“There’s always the unknown at the end of heading up the Derwent river and across the bottom there it’s always a little bit tricky.” LDV Comanche navigator Stan Honey concurred.
“The forecast is quite attractive for the big boats down to Tasman Island,” Honey said.
“Around Storm Bay it gets lot more uncertain and it’s probably the worst time of the day to go up the dreaded Derwent.”
“It’s kind of completely unknown what will happen in the river.”
His boat is expected to be the quickest in the forecast conditions.
“I think Comanche starts the race as probably a firm favourite and she’s going to jump out at the start and leave us all a little bit,” Murray said
“Then it’s up to us, if we can claw it back when it gets tough running which I think we have a little bit of hope that we will, and then there’s going to be the last part where its a bit lighter in the bottom.
“I think there’s some opportunities for us we’ve just got to minimise the damage early and do the very, very best we can.”
Murray felt the forecast could also help the 66-foot Wild Oats X in her bid for a handicap win.
“I think the Oatley family would have a second Christmas if they got a (line honours and handicap) double this year with both boats,” Murray said.
Before the race start at 1pm local Sydney time, thousands of spectators packed the Harbour ahead of the 73rd annual race.
While it was a party atmosphere at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia where the 102 yachts to set off, the mood quickly turned to the business of racing at a chaotic start line.
Concubine skipper Jason Ward said while it was his third Sydney to Hobart, it was impossible not to feel excited and nervous ahead of the race.
“Yeah I’m starting to enjoy the atmosphere and we’re hoping we can put on a good showing,” Mr. Ward told AAP minutes before he set out to the start line.
Mr. Ward said the crew would spend the next two days running on two-hour rotations between crewing, standby and sleep.
“For two days that’s do-able, for much longer than that it’s pretty hard yakka.”
“By the time you get out of your wet weather gear and into your bunk and have something to eat and drink it’s probably only an hour.
“It’s not the most restful sleep.”
Some sailors amongst the fleet are in their first Sydney to Hobart, including American Andrew Weiss, whose yacht arrived on the back of a massive seven star boat two weeks ago.
“It was a little tense for that part,” he laughed.
The skipper of Christopher Dragon told AAP he’d never been to Australia before but was thankful for the favourable conditions forecast for the world famous race.