Line honours is expected to come down to the second half of the race. (Andrea Francolini: Getty Images)
The 680 nautical miles of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race, which commences on Boxing Day every year, is recognised as one of the most gruelling ocean races in the world.
Testing southerlies on the first night and light breezes later in the race are set to present the Sydney to Hobart fleet with different challenges. The fleet, which currently stands at 88, is expected to start under 10 to 15 knot northerly winds on Boxing Day. A southerly change is forecast to kick in six to 12 hours into the race, with winds possibly gusting up to 30 knots on the first night.
The Rolex Race Orgniser said ex-tropical Cyclone Fina would generate swell and contribute to erratic conditions.
"It is looking like the second half of the race looks pretty tricky, the first half is pretty laid out for us," Murray told reporters. He predicted Wild Oats XI would complete the 628 nautical mile course a little quicker than the two days seven hour 37 minutes 20 seconds it took her to achieve line honours last year. "We're thinking our time is going to be around two days (and) four or five hours," Murray said.
There is a yacht tracker that allows you to follow the fleet on its journey down the South and Far South Coast of Australia into Bass Strait and to Hobart, Tasmania.
The event is far from 'clear sailing' and is not for the faint hearted and with gale force winds forecast for the Bass Strait crossing this year is going to be little different.
Start of the 66th Rolex Sydney Hobart
Boats jostling for position on the start line of the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2010