Comanche Aims For Hot Sydney Hobart Start

Comanche is aiming for a blistering start to the Sydney to Hobart to try and build a good lead before conditions change in favour of the other supermaxis.

Comanche skipper Jim Cooney intends setting a hot pace from the start of the Sydney to Hobart, before potentially less favourable conditions give the other supermaxis a chance to catch his imposing boat.

The 75th edition of the race is expected to start in around 10 to 15 knot north-easterly breezes.

Gusts approaching gale force could come on Monday or Tuesday, by which time a large portion of the fleet of 157 yachts should have finished.

The timing of a possible southerly change inside the first 24 hours will add another element, though it’s unlikely to bring strong.winds.

“We will aim to put as many miles on them as we can in the nor’easter when we first leave Sydney,” Cooney told AAP.

“We’ll go out as hot as we can and try and put some distance on them, while we’ve got Comanche conditions.”

Of the other four supermaxis, Black Jack, which finished second across the line in 2018, should be most favoured by the primarily lighter airs the race is tipped to deliver.

“On paper it does for sure,” Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford told AAP.

“But last year we saw moderate airs or even lighter airs that would suit us and we saw the whole fleet stay together.”

Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards was adamant his nine-time line honours winner would perform well despite the rush to get it ready after she suffered rigging, mast and deck damage in last month’s Cabbage Tree island Race.

His confidence in the boat, which is in its 15th year, was boosted by her showing in a recent 24-hour qualifier for the race.

“We had some really good southerly conditions, plenty of breeze 30-35 knots, so we really put the boat through its paces and because of that we’ve got a lot of confidence back in the boat,” Richards said.

“The area that failed, we’ve made that about 35 per cent stronger than what it was.

“I think we’re really confident the boat will be in great shape.”

In the battle for overall honours the forecast looks best for the mid-sized boats.

“It looks like a pretty good forecast for the TP52s and boats around that sort of size,” Matt Allen, skipper of 2017 overall winner and TP52 Ichi Ban, said.

The smoky haze around Sydney over recent weeks, which forced the cancellation of the Big Boat Challenge leadup race, shoudn’t be a major issue and certainly not for the start on Thursday.

“It’s most likely the thick smoke haze will be overnight and in the early morning, during the day itself it will abate,” the Bureau of Meteorology’s Gabrielle Woodhouse said.