SYDNEY (AP) — The 75th Sydney to Hobart race fleet is expected to be spared from smoky haze at the start on Thursday and most yachts are unlikely to encounter strong winds on their sail south to the island state of Tasmania.
Thick smoke from numerous bushfires in New South Wales forced the cancellation of the recent Big Boast Challenge lead-up race on Dec. 10.
But concerns that the start of the race on Sydney Harbour could also be affected by smoke were played down by the Bureau of Meteorology at Tuesday's fleet weather briefing.
"Over the next few days we are sitting in easterly winds which means for Sydney itself and much of the Nëw South Wales coast we are not going to look at thick smoke haze affecting anywhere over the water," bureau spokesperson Gabrielle Woodhouse said.
“It is most likely the thick smoke haze will be overnight and in the early morning, during the day itself it will abate."
Woodhouse said the race was likely to start in a 10 to 15 knots north to north-easterly breeze.
The only really heavy wind conditions, with gusts approaching gale force, could come on Monday or Tuesday, by which time a large portion of the fleet of 157 yachts should have finished.
The race record of 1 day, 9 hours and 15 minutes set by Comanche in 2017 is unlikely to be threatened despite the presence of five speedy super maxis, including nine-time line honors winner Wild Oats XI and two-time winner Comanche.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports