On Boxing Day, we spent five hours on a Sailing Boat, the "South Passage”, watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. This year was the 72nd edition of the Yacht Race that begins at 1 pm on the 26th of December. Yachts from 60 to 100 feet long get to start at the front line just north of Shark Island, while the second start line is 0.2 nautical miles behind and includes all other boat sizes. The vessels sail one nautical mile out to sea past Sydney Heads, then they turn south to Tasmania. We had a first-row seat on the South Passage as we were sailing only meters away from restricted race area. When the start canon fired, we sailed along, although much slower, until the racing boats, among them the eight time winner, Wild Oats XI, that had to drop out due to mechanical problems, turned into the Pacific. One of the boats passed the start line prior to the canon shot and had to turn around passing the start line again.
We left from Darling Harbour:
We observed the boats prior to race start:
There were many observers--on the water and in helicopters:
Then, the race started at 1 pm, sharp:
On our way back, the 100 foot gaff rigged Schooner, which was built so that all sails can be managed from the deck, put up its sails and we steered without engine underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Our 5-min video of the experience:
More images here.