Why these pensioners are conquering the Sydney to Hobart

By Lachlan Harper and Emily Patterson

In last year’s Sydney to Hobart, Kathy Veel and Bridget Canham lit up Constitution Dock right on the brink of the New Year.

Onboard their Yacht ‘Currawong’, the two sailed over the finish line 18 minutes before the clock ticked over 2023.

While they may have finished 83rd, they were winners in the eyes of everyone watching on, having become the first-ever two-handed female crew to conquer Australia’s greatest sailing event.

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Now they’re back, ready to compete again on Boxing Day.

And while they’re used to bunking in close quarters, 71-year-old Veel and 63-year-old Canham haven’t always been overly familiar with each other.

“We are (close) now. We weren’t close friends particularly when we started this but now we’ve spent so much time together … we pretty much know what each other is going to say next,” Veel told 9News Sydney.

For both women, while there is a definite love of sailing, another motivator for competing in the prestigious race is overcoming a stigma around their age.

“Just because you get to a certain age, it doesn’t mean your future is in the bridge club or the bowls club,” Veel said.

“You can inspire people to reach their own goals, they don’t have to do a Sydney to Hobart, their own goal might be to own their own boat or learn how to sail,” Canham added.

Last year, the satisfaction for both women came from crossing the finish line at Constitution Dock last year.

No doubt, there was pandemonium with the sound of cheers from spectators, coupled by the sight of fireworks only minutes after finishing.

But the two sailors aren’t satisfied with just completing the race this year.

“I want to be there to welcome the last boat in,” Veel said.

Ahead of the 2023 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, here is everything you need to know.

What time does the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race start?

The famed bluewater yacht race kicks off on Sydney Harbour at 1pm AEDT on Tuesday, December 26.

Who has entered into the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race?

113 boats have entered for the 78th running of the event including four 100-foot maxis and several past winners.

There are 10 international entrants including three from New Zealand, two from Hong Kong, and competitors from New Caledonia, USA, France, Germany and Ireland.

Australia is represented across all six states with New South Wales boasting 60 entries while Queensland fields 18, Victoria 15, Tasmania seven, Western Australia two, and South Australia one.

How long is the race?

The race is 628 nautical miles long and takes an the winner around 48 hours or just under to complete.

How can you watch the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race?

You can watch the race via the 7 Network, with live coverage beginning on 7Mate from 12.30pm (AEDT) on Boxing Day.

Where is the best place to see the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race?

Accor Sydney recommends watching from the northern shore of Sydney, or even from around the Harbour Bridge. You’ll likely be able to see the yachts pass you by at Cremorne Point, Bradley’s Head and Clifton Gardens.

As for Hobart, finding a spot at Battery Point, where the races finishes, is your best bet.

Who is the favourite to win the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race?

There are a few favourites for the 2023 race.

TAB has Andoo Comanche at $1.50, followed by Law Connect at $3.60 and SHK Scallywag at $8.00.

What is the prize for winning the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race?

The winners will take home the Tattersall Cup. It was first presented in 1946 by the Executors of the Estate of the late George Adams, who was the founder of Tattersall Lotteries in Hobart.

Who are the previous winners of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

2000: SAP Ausmaid

2001: Bumblebee 5

2002: Quest

2003: First National

2004: Aera

2005: Wild Oats XI

2006: Love & War

2007: Rosebud

2008: Quest

2009: Two True

2010: Secret Men’s Business 3.5

2011: Loki

2012: Wild Oats XI

2013: Victoire

2014: Wild Rose

2015: Balance

2016: Giacomo

2017: Ichi Ban

2018: Alive

2019: Ichi Ban

2020: Not conducted

2021: Ichi Ban

2022: Celestial

What is the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race record?

The race record of 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, and 24 seconds was set by LDV Comanche for Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant in 2017.

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