Watching the Sydney to Hobart race start
We chose to leave Estrellita in Blackwattle Bay and watch the 2015 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race start from South Head which, as it sounds, is the southern land mass at the entrance to Sydney Harbour. Leaving the dinghy at the rowing club, we walked a short walk to Darling Harbour and boarded a ferry, transferred once to a different ferry a the main downtown wharf and road that all of the way to Watson’s Bay. With Sydney’s new OPAL transit system making the transfers automatically for us, it cost us $8 pp each way, and included quite a harbour tour in the process.
We went to the lighthouse arriving at around 11am and found a prime spot to watch the boats round the first mark, and to watch them pop their spinnakers (in the North wind conditions of the this year’s start), although you miss the actual start across the line.
There were a few other early birds enjoying picnics as well but even as the race start closed and the area became more full, it was never a real madhouse. The harbour, on the other hand, was absolutely crazy. The anchorages filled, boats were milling about, and as the race went on their was a stream of boats heading out and then back in the harbour. It looked really fun but although it would have been fun to be on someone else’s boat, we were glad that we could enjoy without the stress of navigating our home in the pack.
We had brought a tablet with cellular internet and as the race start approached we watched the livestream (which apparently was down outside of Australia this year, but worked inside the country). We started passing news to our neighbors as the race horn went off. With supermaxis in the mix it only took about 5 minutes before the first boats came into our view. As non-race afficianados, it also gave us a chance to read more about the background of the boats.
I will let you read the official race reporting if you want a good overview; I enjoyed the way their writer laid things out over the course of the event. The start was a crazy series of upsets and we got to watch several of the main dramas unfold by the first mark -- when the Australian sweetheart and regular line honors winner Wild Oats tacked inches behind Commanche, when Commanche took the lead, and when Perpetual couldn’t get their chute up.
Simultaneously, on our right we watched a series of blows spinnakers as people attempted to hoist them in peppy winds as they turned out of the harbour and headed South.
One things I really enjoyed about watching from South Head was how into the race the crowd was. There were gasps, commentary, cheers and a great vibe on the way to the area and away from it, even though the crowds were all trying to funnel into small paths and staircases on the park trails.
It was an exciting year for American yachting as an American supermaxi, Comanche, took line honors. The actual winner of the race however, was Balance, an Australian Farr TP52.
Overall, this was a memory for a lifetime. So delighted we were able to be in a position to attend. When we made landfall in Coff’s it wasn’t at all clear that we would make our way all of the way down to Sydney and I am really glad conditions were favorable to do so.