Each yacht carries between six (the minimum) and 24 crew members, the average across the fleet being 10-11.
An outcome of the stormy 1998 race is that at least 50 per cent of all crew members, including the skipper, must have completed a Sea Safety Survival Course. The course involves a number of exercises such as deploying a life raft, righting it when it capsizes and knowing what to do inside a life raft at sea if the yacht has to be abandoned. Other exercises include the use of safety equipment, weather and emergency procedures.
In the bygone era, ocean yacht racing was a male sport, but nowadays most yachts carry mixed crews. The sport of sailing is not that physical, although the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is more demanding than most harbour and short offshore races.
Sailing is also a very social sport, which encourages men and women and families to participate. Several yachts in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race will be crewed by families, fathers and their sons and daughters, brothers and husbands and wives.
The minimum age to compete in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is 18 years of age. In 2006, Will Ryan turned 18 just three days before undertaking his first Hobart aboard Graeme Wood's Wot's Next.
There is no upper age limit, in fact in 2008 two octogenarian sailors, John Walker, at 86 the oldest skipper ever to race to Hobart, and eighty-one-year-old Syd Fischer. Walker retired after the 2008 race having completed 25 Hobarts, whilst Fischer equalled Walker's record in 2014, when he competed at the age of 87 aboard his super maxi Ragamuffin 100.
In the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2007, Victorian yachtsman Lou Abrahams and Sydney yachtsman Tony Cable equalled the record for the most Hobarts for an individual, 44, set by the late Tasmanian yachtsman John Bennetto. In 2008, Tony Cable undertook his historic 45th Hobart race to create a new record for the most number of Hobarts by an individual. Cable then broke his own record in 2011 when he sailed his 46th Hobart on Duende, a TP52 owned by Damian Parkes. In 2014, Tony Cable sailed his 49th Hobart race on