SYDNEY (AP) -- Forecast southerly winds of up to 35 knots (65 kilometers per hour, 40 mph) will create a blustery first night for 109 yachts entered in this year's Sydney to Hobart race which begins Saturday.
Weather officials told skippers Wednesday that the winds will "pack a fair bit of punch... it will make for rough conditions."
The race was hit by gales and huge seas on the first night in 1998 when six sailors died.
The 628-nautical-mile race across Bass Strait to the Tasmanian state capital has attracted 28 international entries, including 17 from Britain.
Four 100-foot super maxis have also entered, including eight-time line honors winner and 2014 champion Wild Oats XI, and American yacht Comanche.
Comanche finished second last year in its first major race.