Size does matter in SydHob: supermaxi skip

Christian Beck is banking on a bigger bowsprit and new sails to boost the Sydney Hobart line honours prospects of his supermaxi LawConnect.

Supermaxi owner Christian Beck says size does matter and hopes a new bigger bowsprit on his boat will help deliver his first line honours win in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The recently installed bowsprit and almost a full wardrobe of new sails has his renamed 100-footer LawConnect, previously InfoTrack, well placed to improve on its fourth and second line honours finishes in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

With fellow supermaxis Wild Oats XI and Comanche not competing this year, LawConnect will vie with two other maximum-length boats - Black Jack and SHK Scallywag - for line honours.

"The boat is getting better and better, but obviously we've still got very strong competition," Beck said of LawConnect, the winner of line honours in 2016 as Perpetual LOYAL under previous owner Anthony Bell.

"When it comes to bowsprits size does matter.

"It allows us to increase the sail area by about 15 per cent.

"I think it will improve performance in most conditions."

With Tasmania reopening its borders on December 15, organisers are confident the race will go ahead this year after being cancelled in 2020.

"We had wondered how we'd go coming out of the pandemic and also it's not a milestone year like the 75th (in 2019)," Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore Noel Cornish said on Tuesday.

"I'm elated that we've got 106 yachts, six states being represented and three Internationals and a very, very competitive fleet."

The fleet contains nine boats that have won either line or handicap honours.

Among the favourites for overall honours is 2017 and 2019 winner Ichi Ban, which will again strive to become the first boat to win successive races on handicap since Freya in 1964.

"I feel like everyone has put the moz on us to go back to back," Ichi Ban owner and skipper Matt Allen joked.

He said COVID had impacted on his preparations in two ways.

"For about eight months we didn't go sailing so I think the whole crew is relatively rusty coming into the races we've done the last two weeks," Allen said.

"But probably every boat has got a similar issue - not enough time on the water.

"We've got a few crew that are interstate that are only just able to get out of South Australia and Queensland.

"But during the last eight months it's given us some time to improve a number of smaller systems issues we've had with the boat and just trying to eke out that little bit of extra performance."

Almost 20 per cent of the fleet will contest the new two-handed division, which was scheduled to make its debut in the race last year.

The boats are crewed by just two people, usually at least four less than the majority of boats that have contested the race in the past.

"Probably our biggest rival isn't each other, it's fatigue and how we manage that three-and-a-half to four days," said Jules Hall, owner and skipper of Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth.