Eye on the prize: The contenders optimised for Sydney Hobart gold

As the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race draws nearer, anticipation is reaching its peak. Within the varied entries, many standout yachts are finalising their preparations, leveraging Cyclops’ wireless load sensors. Providing precise in-race load data via onboard displays, wireless load sensing has been part of the success stories of many top-performing yachts in recent editions of the Great Race. 

In the last edition, Cyclops-equipped yachts included the overall winner, the entire podium of the two-handed division, the top two in IRC 3, and second across the line. As these yachts ready themselves for this year’s challenge, a focus will be harnessing this technology, by reacting to live load data on-screen to achieve consistently fast settings and adapt swiftly to changing conditions.


Finishing second in the past three editions, ‘LawConnect’ will be determined to clinch the line honours title this year. With the absence of Sydney Hobart legends (and fellow Cyclops sailors) Wild Oats XI, the field may seem more open, but competition will be intense – not least from formidable race record holder and multi-time champion Andoo Comanche. smartlink sensors from Cyclops provide live and logged load data from LawConnect’s soft lines.


After finishing in an excruciating second to fellow Cyclops users ‘Ichi Ban’ in 2021 and returning to claim the Tattersall Cup in glorious fashion in 2022, ‘Celestial’ is back with yacht upgrades and a formidable crew. The overall winner is difficult to predict, but depending on conditions, things could favour the 52-footers, and you wouldn’t bet against them lifting the Tattersall Cup once again!

smartlink from Cyclops: aistephotog

Maritimo 52

Queensland’s Bill Barry-Cotter brings Maritimo 52 into the fray, with the experienced Michael Spies as Sailing Master. Another TP52 fitted with Cyclops wireless load sensing technology, she could certainly be one to watch as things unfold.

Atomic Blonde

Alot depends on conditions, but the smaller boats could also be in with a chance of overall glory. Simon Torvaldsen’s newly built JPK 11.80, ‘Atomic Blonde’ is a new boat for a team with a history of divisional wins and offshore championships. Atomic Blonde is equipped with a smarttune from Cyclops on the forestay. smarttune provides live forestay loads – the most emphatic upgrade for consistently achieving optimal settings, it provides an overall picture of the dynamic balance of the rig.  

Two-Handed Contenders: 

The two-handed division is an arena where Cyclops sailors asserted sheer dominance in last year’s race. With the entire podium – Lombard 34 ‘Mistral’, Sun Fast 3300 ‘Sun Fast Racing’, and Young 11 ‘Pacman’ – all using the game-changing tech. 

Load data is a huge asset to all race teams, but for shorthanded sailors it can make a world of difference, allowing you to focus on the changing conditions and get the best out of your equipment, conserving energy and mental focus, with full confidence that your rig is optimised and you are hitting your targets.

Offshore racing also presents the challenge of sailing at night. Learn more about how Cyclops can be your eyes in the dark.

Photo: Salty Dingo


Last year’s two-handed champion, Mistral, helmed by Rupert Henry with Jack Bouttell as co-skipper, is a testament to this. After their win we caught up with them to find out how their smarttune had helped: 

“The forestay load sensor is a big help with being able to replicate and then change our rig tune without guesswork. The hounds on Mistral’s rig are relatively high for a Fractional rig and the spreaders are quite swept back with the side chainplates very wide. This makes the dock-tune tension on the forestay a big determinant of on-water forestay sag because the backstays don’t move the mast head very much. Now we have dock tune loads for different conditions which has improved jib setup on the water. It’s also good to be able to put reference marks on the backstay tails for desired forestay load so that we can come out of tacks and know what forestay tension we have.”

Rupert Henry
smarttune from Cyclops.


Following up on its debut 3rd place finish in last year’s two-handed division, Cyclops-equipped Young 11 ‘Pacman’ is helmed by Peter Elkington, and will be back with an eye on going two better in 2023! 

Rum Rebellion

With a series of victories and strong performances in the Blue Water Pointscore in 2023, Shane Connelly’s J/99 is another top contender in the two-handed division. Rum Rebellion is equipped with a smarttune sensor, a crucial addition as attested by Connelly after the 2021 Sydney Hobart Race:

“Prior to the Race Jon Kimberley of Any Port Marine Sydney was kind enough to offer me a Cyclops smarttune load sensor to test during the race. Upon my return I immediately purchased it. 

Here are the reasons why… 

Three weeks prior to the race we fitted the smarttune. During the lead up to the race we worked with Jon, our rigger and sail maker to tune the rig for race conditions recording data from the smarttune for our backstay tensions. After some fine tuning we believed we had the rig set up to suit the conditions anticipated for the race… 

On night one of the race the fleet was hit with a strong southerly squall, known here as a ‘southerly buster’. The southerly peaked at about forty knots and the sea conditions along the East Australia Current – setting at about 3 knots from the north, were atrocious. The southerly continued for about two days. Sadly almost half the fleet retired due to a variety of rig, sail, mechanical, and crew issues with more than half of the two handed fleet retiring. We were lucky enough to be able to continue to race due to a variety of reasons including luck, thorough boat preparation and perhaps an element of dogged determination. 

Clearly in these conditions the Cyclops smarttune was a great asset to have on board. To have precise load readings, rather than guess work – particularly at the height of the squall was invaluable. I would like to again thank Jon for the opportunity to use the sensor and have no hesitation recommending it to fellow offshore sailors.”

smarttune from Cyclops onboard J/99


Jeanneau Sunfast 3300 Tumbleweed, raced by Graham Biehl and Nigel Nattrass, is another formidable entry in the two-handed division. With Biehl’s Olympic experience and Nattrass’s extensive offshore racing background, Tumbleweed is set to make its mark, with Cyclops tech lending a helping hand.

As the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race unfolds, these Cyclops-equipped yachts, with their skilled crews and advanced technology, are optimised to perform at their very best, and to react effectively to every obstacle of this formidable challenge. These are just a small number of the teams that will be powering towards Hobart with the help of Cyclops data.   If you’d like to learn more about Cyclops technology, visit the website, or get in touch.

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