Summer Sailing Down Under: Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race on Again!

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December 28, 2015 by Monica Grant

So it’s the middle of winter, the year is almost over, and you’re sitting by the fire gazing out the window at your wrapped, snow-covered sailing boat sitting on the lawn? Well, the northern hemisphere’s ‘summer of sailing’ might still be some months away, but in the southern hemisphere sailing is in full swing with the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race taking centre stage world wide. And while we’re not suggesting you jump on a plane and head to Sydney (though that is a really good idea), we thought you might like a little mini update on what’s been going on in this famous sailing race, down-under.


"Sydney to Hobart 2009" by Swandives. Cc

Leaving Sydney Harbor at 1pm on Dec 26, Boxing Day, the 108 strong fleet set out on a 628 nautical mile journey in what has since been called “one of the roughest races in recent years.”  Now two days later, American yacht Comanche has taken line honors on the Derwent River, which runs through the heart of Hobart, Tasmania, with a race time of two days, nine hours, 58 minutes and 30 seconds - a nice step up from last year’s result in which the first time entrant came in second to defending champion and record holder, the Australian-owned Wild Oats XI, by only 50 minutes. Wild Oats XI’s record race time of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds was set in 2012. 

This year’s Sydney to Hobart was challenged by severe southerly winds off the New South Wales coast on Saturday night, causing 32 of the vessels to retire with damage to sails, rudders and hulls, and for one yacht, a broken mast. The 100-foot Comanche sustained damage to one of her twin rudders and a dagger board. However rather than pull out of the race, the crew decided to make repairs underway, and continued the race to become the first American entry to claim line honors in 17 years. Comanche’s rival and  fellow line honors contender Wild Oats XI, was forced to quit the race after her mainsail ripped. 

Comanche’s Skipper, Ken Read, who said he thought he had “seen it all,” said the Sydney Hobart was a “hard race,” which tested the endurance of his crew.

“The people who have done this race something like 25 times, God bless 'em, either they're the dumbest people on earth or the hardest people on earth, ” he said.

Well, I’d like to think we aren’t all ‘dumb’, but rather fun-seeking adventurers with a passion for sailing, and meeting challenges. However I think even the most seasoned sailors have a healthy respect for the Sydney to Hobart which shares international status with events such as the Rolex Fastnet Race in England and the Newport to Bermuda Race in the USA. 

"boxing_day-5202-edit" by Jason Armstrong. Cc

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race isn’t necessarily for everyone, but we believe sailing is, and that’s why every year we encourage people to get out on the summer solstice weekend and celebrate and share the joy of sailing. After all, there are a lot of different levels of sailing and as long as you’re out on the water you’re there. And with a bit of luck you’ll also have enough breeze to fill your sails, ruffle your hair and put a smile on your face. 

So Sign up! And get on board for Summer Sailstice 2016… It’s not that far away!

Read more about the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - History;  Home of The Race - Cruising Yacht Club of Australia 

Main Photo - "Big Boat Challenge" by Ian Sanderson. Cc

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