26 Dec 2010

Tough conditions expected in Sydney - Hobart race

3:15 pm on 26 December 2010

Sailors in this year's Sydney to Hobart yacht race have been warned to expect tough conditions on the journey down the east coast of Australia.

Eighty-seven yachts are expected to sail out of Sydney Harbour on Sunday in the 66th edition of the race - one of the most gruelling in the world. The race begins at 1pm (AEST).

In the official Sydney to Hobart race briefing on Christmas Eve, crews were told to expect thunderstorms and squally winds at the race's start.

The ABC reports the fleet is also likely to be hit by gale-force winds at some stage.

Super-maxi Wild Oats XI is favourite to win line honours, after having a four-year winning streak broken in 2009 by Alfa Romeo.

Alfa has since been sold and is not competing this year.

Wild Oats skipper Mark Richards says he doesn't mind the conditions.

The race record of just over one day and 18 hours was set by Wild Oats XI in 2005.