Wild Oats XI skipper all set for 16th Sydney to Hobart race

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AAP

Christmas Day is the lull before the Sydney to Hobart storm of activity on Boxing Day for many competitors, but for others it's a big travel day.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 13: 'Wild Oats XI' skippered by Mark Richards crosses the finish line in the CYCA 2016 Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour, December 13, 2016, in Sydney, Australia. The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's charity event is a test of speed and stamina in the lead up to the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. (Photo by Hugh Peterswald/Icon Sportswire)

'Wild Oats XI' skippered by Mark Richards crosses the finish line in the CYCA 2016 Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour, a ead up to the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Source: Photosport

For those sailing south, Christmas Day and sometimes Christmas Eve are days to relax rather than fret over final race preparations.

"It's a pretty big day Boxing Day for a skipper, especially a skipper of a 100-footer, so we have our Christmas festivities on Christmas eve," Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards told AAP.

"I'll be down in my little boatshed chilling out swimming, having a nice old time and getting ready for Boxing Day, just my partner and myself and just relax."

But once Boxing Day dawns it's a different matter for Richards, who will contest the race for a 16th time.

"You're up at 6.30 there's press conferences, Sunrise (TV program), all sorts of duties to do, so it's a pretty full on morning with the 8.30 briefing as well," Richards said.

"It's a busy time, this thing will be over before we know it, that's the scary thing.

"Two days out and all of a sudden you'll be two days past it and it's another year gone."

Americans competing in this year's race have talked about their tradition of watching the start of the race live online back home when it's still Christmas Day.

It's not unusual for crew members to fly in from overseas on Christmas Day, or even a few hours before the start, especially from New Zealand.

"In the past I've done Hobarts where I've come across the morning of the race," Beau Geste's Gavin Brady, one of many New Zealanders on that 80-foot boat, said.

"That's just crazy because by the time you catch a flight at seven in the morning and get here, by the time you've come through the Heads you've already been up for 14, 15 hours, and that's just silly preparation.

"We are a New Zealand team so we come across on Christmas Day.

"It's a lot more more tiresome for a New Zealand team to come here, because it's a big day.

"Sydney at this time of year is obviously very hot, it's very tiring to get a big maxi boat even off the deck."

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