Boxing Day is celebrated throughout the world in various ways. Australia offers a unique way to spend the day after Christmas.
Every year on December 26th the Sydney to Hobart yacht race starts. This race takes its sailors over 1100 km and is considered by many to be one of the most difficult races in the world. The race includes everything from Maxi yachts like the Perpetual Loyal to simple weekend racers. The general route is as the name says from Sydney, South across the Tasman Sea to Derwent River in Hobart where the race finishes up just in time for a New Year celebration.
We spent a week in Sydney and really enjoyed the city, so much so that we felt we could live there long term if the situation presented itself. It is a clean vibrant city that offers world class beaches, fabulous eateries, a great touring harbor, and everything else you would expect to find in a modern city but without all the chaos that usually goes along with it. It is an amazing place to visit, a great spot to spend the holidays, and the only spot to catch the beginning of the race.
Now that you are in Sydney there are several vantage points around the harbor in which you can enjoy this colorful event. The absolute best way would be in a boat where you can get up close, hear the calls, see the frenzy on deck and watch the sails unfurl. Since most people do not have that type of access there are loads of spots on land where you can also enjoy watching as the racers set sail:
- North Head, Manly beach
- Dobroyd Head, Balgowlah Heights
- Rushcutter's Bay
- Watson's Bay
- South Head
- Cremorne Point
- Bradley's Head
- Clifton Gardens
Even children will love watching this race. Maxi Yachts like the Perpetual Loyal are high performance boats thrilling to observe up close. This particular yacht is huge at 100 feet in length so the mere sight of it is fascinating. Then there is the celebrity component. On the Perpetual Loyal boat there are 24 men and women including former Olympian, Tom Slingsby, professional athletes such as Phil Waugh and Jude Bolton, TV personalities Larry Emdur and Karl Stefanovic, and a world record holder, Jessica Watson who was the youngest person ever to sail solo, non stop, and unassisted around the world. Quite an impressive crew I would say and that is only one of the yachts!
If you cannot seem to make it down to the harbor or want to avoid the crowds of over 600,000 people you can also watch the race on television, online via the yacht tracker, or out on the water yourself. It doesn't need to be the start day, remember these teams will be out on the water for days on their way to Hobart in Tasmania.
If you really want to see it all then start in Sydney, watch the race begin and follow them out of the harbor then make your way down to Tasmania and witness the craziness at the finish line in Hobart, watch the fireworks at Sullivan's Cove, or catch a bite to eat at the Taste Festival which runs at the same time.
It's a great spot to celebrate the New Year, watch the festivities surrounding the race, and the island itself has so many wonderful natural things to do that no doubt you can keep busy for weeks if you have the time.
So what do you think? Would you watch a sailing race? Would you sail in one yourself?