The (Virtual) Sydney Hobart Yacht Race


Sadly the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race has been cancelled for the first time in its 76 year history. Of course I would not have been visiting the Hobart waterfront this summer to see the yachts anyway. Firstly because I live too far away now and secondly because the waterfront was going to be closed to the public during the days the yachts were in port so my usual visit to take pictures would have been impossible. The race was scheduled to go ahead right up until December 19th when a growing Covid cluster in Sydney’s northern beaches area meant that most states closed their borders to visitors from NSW or expected them to quarantine for 14 days after arrival.

So I decided that this week I would share some pictures of happier years when I’ve spent a few hours around the waterfront.

The route

The race begins on 26 December when all the yachts set off from Sydney Harbour. It’s an amazing scene which I’ve witnessed many times on television although never in person. All the entrants sail out into the harbour from Rushcutters Bay and make their way to one of two start lines.

Nielsen Park The fleet will start from start lines off Nielsen Park with boats on the northern line rounding “Victor Mark” and boats on the southern lines rounding “X-Ray Mark”, at the Heads, and all boats heading out to sea and rounding “Mark Zulu”, one nautical mile east of the Heads.

The harbour is full of spectator boats of every kind, from chartered tourist boats, yachts and cabin cruisers right up to Sydney’s biggest ferries. The spectator fleet is so numerous that there are strict rules about where they can be to ensure that they don’t impede the progress of the racing yachts.

The race begins in Rushcutter’s Bay, Sydney on Boxing Day

A naval ship fires a cannon to start the race and the yachts surge forward. Of course yachts cannot do a standing start so they are all zig zagging about in the water trying not to hit each other or cross the line before the start and incur a time penalty.

It is amazing to watch them all sailing out of the harbour through the Sydney Heads. I imagine that I probably get a better view on television but I sure would like to be on one of those spectator boats, preferably a big ferry where I won’t be tossed around like a cork in the water.

My favourite thing is when the weather conditions mean there will be a spinnaker start. I love to see all the yachts raising their spinnakers although this often creates difficulties for the crews.

Spectators – Albinfo, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
South Head Sydney Harbour – Albinfo, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Modern technology has meant that TV stations can have camera people onboard several yachts during the start of the race. When the yachts reach the heads the cameraperson, wearing a wetsuit jumps overboard and is picked up by their support boat. No camera people have drowned yet to my knowledge!

In the next few days, during the time that the race would have been run, I will share posts and pictures from previous races from the Hobart perspective.

Taswegian1957

I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on WordPress.com with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. My current housemates are Cindy, my 14-year-old Staffy-Lab X dog and Polly the world's most unsociable cat who is seven.

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