When it comes time for the biggest racing yachts in Australia to flex their collective muscle on the world's most beautiful harbour, it's hard to escape the fact that the serious countdown to the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has begun.
The CYCA's SOLAS Big Boat Challenge, one of Sydney's most spectacular sporting and harbour fixtures, has for 18 consecutive years marked the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart lead-up events and this year it will again fall in between the Rolex Trophy One Design Series and the Rating Series.
For the sixth consecutive year, the CYCA has decided to dedicate the event to raise awareness and funds for its SOLAS Trusts, which were established following the stormy 1998 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race when six lives were lost.
Matt Allen, CYCA SOLAS Trusts chairman and skipper of the Jones 70 Ichi Ban, which will be a starter, is proud to announce that the 2012 event will be known as the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge, and that the CYCA will use eBay to auction places aboard competing boats with the proceeds raised going to the SOLAS Trusts.
The 2012 SOLAS Big Boat Challenge will start off Steele Point, Vaucluse, at 12.30pm on Tuesday 11 December and will take the impressive fleet twice around Sydney Harbour, passing many of Sydney's famous landmarks including Fort Denison, Mrs Macquarie's Chair and the Opera House, the finish point.
Wild Oats XI, line honours winner of the 2006 CYCA Big Boat Challenge
Ichi Ban, third over the line and IRC winner of the CYCA Big Boat Challenge in 2006