Crosbie Lorimer: We're in countdown mode, with only a few days left to go until the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and it's about now that we start to get some consensus on how the weather will play out for at least the first part of the race. From Boxing Day a large high over the Tasman Sea is forecast to block the typical pattern of southerly fronts. So, after a 10 to 12-knot east-south-east breeze at the start we're likely to see increasing nor'easters for the first 36 hours, up to 25-knots in Bass Strait, with fast downwind running conditions, potentially all the way down the Tasmanian Coast. But, it seems there's every chance that the front runners will come to a screaming halt as they reach Tasman Island. So, once again Storm Bay and the Derwent River may play a critical role in this race.
We took the opportunity when the forecast was announced to speak to some of the top navigators about these weather models and how they expect to pay the key decision points en route to Hobart.
Stan Honey: That's a terrific forecast for the whole fleet so it looks like a delightful race.
Tom Addis: It's looking like the race should pull off shore a bit faster which turns it into VMG running a bit earlier which is good for us we prefer the wind from dead behind rather than reaching, Comanche would love it reaching, Infotrak would love it reaching.
L Greenhalgh: Yeah, a nice north easterly downwind and there looks like there might be a change for us at the end of the race as we get to Tasmania, but otherwise overall we're pretty pleased with what the forecast is at the moment.
M Bellingham: I think most people are probably going to try to go out to see a bit. The pressure looks a little bit better off shore. There's a tendency on this coast for the sea breeze component if it's a warmer day to build more quickly on the coast so there's a sort of balancing act between the two there.
Stan Honey: The current is fairly limited to one major eddy and for the big, fast boats it's not worth paying a lot to go get it because you're not in it for very long, and so I think the big boats will mostly just head straight down the coast.
M Bellingham: As we get down to Batemans Bay that's where the most southerly component of current is, so again you try to get the best current but the best pressure so somewhere in between those two.
Will Oxley: Many people are aware that 52's are, you've got plenty on when you've got 20-knots of wind so at 25-knots of wind we've got more than enough and sea state becomes all important.
L Greenhalgh: It still looks like there's going to be a reasonable westerly coming through there and obviously if we are coming down on a north easterly you've still got two lots of sea state they're going to be colliding so I can't imagine it's going to be pleasant anyway.
Will Oxley: At this stage it looks like the first time we'll see Tasmania is sort of Tasman Island. Wind waves are coming from the north-east most likely so, it will get a little messy down there and with the current swirls.
Stan Honey: The tricky part for us will be it's likely to get light at the end and getting up the river will challenge us.
Tom Addis: It's a very difficult race to win and get line honours it's when you can do everything right up to Tasman light and if there's no breeze from there, then there's no breeze for there.
M Bellingham: I have a memory of arriving at around 6:00 a.m. in the morning once. It took us four hours to get from John Garo light to the finish line. The boat that beat us finished 5:00 in the afternoon, took him 12 minutes.