The Sydney to Hobart Ocean Race from Boxing Day

The Rolex Sydney to Hobart Ocean Race is an annual event hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in SydneyNew South Wales, on Boxing Day and finishing in HobartTasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).[1] The race is run in conjunction with the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania and is widely considered to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world.[2]


The race was initially planned to be a cruise by Peter Luke and some friends who had formed a club for those who enjoyed cruising as opposed to racing, however when a visiting British Royal Navy Officer, Captain John Illingworth, suggested it be made a race, the event was born. The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race has grown over the decades, since the inaugural race in 1945, to become one of the top three offshore yacht races in the world, and it now attracts maxi yachts from all around the globe. The 2019 race was the 75th edition.

competition based on the length, shape, weight, and sail dimensions of the yacht. Much public attention, however, focuses on the race for “line honors” – the first boat across the finishing line, typically the newest and largest Maxi yacht in the fleet.

Along with the Newport-Bermuda Race and the Fastnet Race, it is considered one of the classic big offshore races with a distance of approximately 625 nautical miles (719 mi; 1,158 km).

In 2017, LDV Comanche set a new race record finishing in 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, and 24 seconds, beating Perpetual Loyal’s record of 1 day, 13 hours, 31 minutes, and 20 seconds, set the previous year.[3] Wild Oats XI, who crossed the line first, received a 1-hour penalty for her role in a near-miss collision at the beginning of the race and disregard of the starboard rule, handing LDV Comanche line honors.[4] Wild Oats XI completed the course in an unofficial record time of 1 day, 08 hours, 48 minutes, and 50 seconds.

Australia’s foremost offshore sailing prize is The George Adams Tattersall Cup, awarded to the ultimate winner of the handicapWild Oats XI has won line honors on 9 separate occasions (2005–2008, 2010, 2012–2014, 2018) and is the first boat to have claimed the treble – race record, line honors, and overall winner.[5]




Bass Strait, and the waters of the Pacific Ocean immediately to its east, are renowned for their high winds and difficult seas. Although the race mostly takes place in the Tasman Sea, the shallowness of Bass Strait and the proximity to the race course means that the fleet is very much under the influence of the Strait as they transit from the mainland to Flinders Island. Even though the race is held in the Australian summer, southerly buster storms often make the Sydney–Hobart race cold, bumpy, and very challenging for the crew. It is typical for a considerable number of yachts to retire, often at Eden on the New South Wales south coast, the last sheltered harbor before Flinders Island.

The inaugural race in 1945 had nine starters. John Illingworth’s Rani, built at Speers Point was the winner, taking six days, 14 hours, and 22 minutes. Race records for the fastest (elapsed) time dropped rapidly. However, it took 21 years for the 1975 record by Kialoa from the United States to be broken by the German yacht Morning Glory in 1996, and then only by a dramatic 29 minutes, as she tacked up the River Derwent against the clock. In 1999 Denmark’s Nokia sailed the course in one day, 19 hours, 48 minutes and two seconds, a record which stood until 2005 when Wild Oats XI won line and handicap honours in 1 day 18 hr 40 min 10 sec.

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