I bussed into Hobart seeking a spectacle and I wasn’t disappointed. I looked seaward when the bus crossed the Derwent River on the Tasman Bridge. Hundreds of boats of all shapes and sizes were out on the water welcoming the racing yachts into and up the River. Picture postcard imagery. Perfect.
Once in the city and amidst thousands of people, I wandered down to the wharf. I loved the festive atmosphere and the sense of great achievements.
The tallness of the supermaxi masts always surprises me, and seeing the mast on the glossy Wild Oats XI was no exception. Gasp. So tall I had to move my head to see from the bottom to the top; simple eye movements were not enough.
The yacht was tied up and people, whether on or off the boat, were hugging and shaking hands, their tanned faces full of smiles. The crew had not slept but were exhilarated. Publically broadcast speeches followed. The sun beat down and it seemed the air reverberated with good will. Today was definitely full of joy for those who have arrived safely in port at Hobart. ABC Online was the first to transmit a story of the win. Have a look at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-28/2014-sydney-to-hobart-yacht-race-winner/5990156 for colourful action photos, and a video.
For 69 years annually on Boxing Day (26th December), over 100 yachts have set sail from Sydney Harbour for the internationally renowned Sydney to Hobart Yacht race. Their well-trained crews have great ambitions of becoming line or overall winner depending on the size and class of their yachts.
The website (http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/about-the-race) explains this race is an egalitarian event, attracting yachts as small as 30-footers or large maxis, sailed by crews who range from weekend club sailors to professionals from the America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race circuits. The Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2014 is a classic long ocean race open to anyone who owns a yacht that qualifies for this challenging event and which meets all the safety requirements of a Category 1 safety race.
Today is the exciting one for Hobart residents, thousands of yachtie fans and plane loads of tourists who expect to see the first two towering maxis come over the final line later this afternoon. As I type this posting, an Australian yacht Wild Oats XI (which has won the race 7 times) leads the USA maxi Comanche which is trailing by 10 kilometres. The rest of the fleet are over 140 kilometres north and none of those yachts can be expected to arrive until tomorrow at the earliest.
But, for today’s two maxis, the big trial will be sailing the final 11 nautical miles of the Derwent River to the finish line. A change in the wind is forecast and this could be to Comanche’s advantage. The history of this race is littered with leaders who are overtaken during the last leg on the Derwent due to fickle, conflicting or no winds. Currently the winds around Hobart are north-westerly 15 to 20 km/h and are expected to shift south to south-easterly 15 to 25 km/h in the early afternoon then become light in the late evening.
As I sign off, Wild Oats XI has entered Storm Bay which is the last expanse of water before the Derwent River.
Check out the website http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/ for stunning photos of the yachts and in a few hours you will see the arrival of the first two in Hobart, on this gorgeous sunny blue sky day.