Created: 26 Dec 2010 14:07
Updated: 26 Dec 2010 14:11

This year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which started at 13:00 local time today in Sydney, is forecast to be as challenging as usual. Two "Southerly Busters" are forecast in the first 48 hours. The Southerly Buster occurs when the east Australian current runs against a southerly breeze causing a confused sea state and big waves.

Monday, when the leaders reach the Bass Strait, is expected to be full on, with winds moderating on Tuesday, so boats at the back of the fleet will have less chance to catch up.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is taking part in Titania of Cowes, a British registered Swan 68. He managed to escape the big freeze in the UK before Heathrow shut down, though some other crew members had a nail biting time wondering if they’d get out to Sydney in time.

This will be Sir Robin’s first Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. He revealed, “It’s one of the major races that I haven’t competed in and I’ve always wanted to do it. I mean, after all, the Rolex Sydney Hobart is one of the world’s toughest and well-known classic yacht races.”

Sir Robin thinks he and the crew aboard the Titiania of Cowes definitely have a challenge on their hands. He explained, “We’re a cruising boat, not a racing boat. If the winds are favourable to our type of vessel we’ll do well. If the winds are against us, it will be hard going.”

When asked how old he was, Sir Robin gave a smile and asked, “You mean how young am I?” About whether age is a problem, the 71-year old added, “No, not at all— age is all in the mind. Besides, I keep fit. I love the challenge. Remember, it was only four years ago that I sailed around the world.”

Wild Oats XI currently (after 11 hours of racing) leads the fleet with Investec close behind. Titania is lying in 24th place, 56 miles behind the leader, with 540 miles to go, still in downwind conditions. The leaders are starting to beat into the 20 knot plus and strengthening southerly winds.

You can follow the race on the official site at . Thanks to them and to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia ( ) for information in this story.