Over the past 70 years, the Rolex Sydney Hobart has become an icon of Australia's summer sport, ranking in public interest with such national events as the Melbourne Cup horse race, the Australian Open tennis and the cricket tests between Australia and England. No regular annual yachting event in the world attracts such huge media coverage than does the start on Sydney Harbour.
From the spectacular start in Sydney Harbour, the fleet sails out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait, then down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to the historic port city of Hobart.
People who sail the race often say the first and last days are the most exciting. The race start on Sydney Harbour attracts hundreds of spectator craft and hundreds of thousands of people lining the shore as helicopters buzz above the fleet, filming for TV around the world. While the final day sees crews fighting tooth and nail to beat their rivals but also looking forward to the traditional Hobart welcome, and having a drink to relax and celebrate their experience.
As the then Governor of Tasmania, Sir Guy Green, observed at the prizegiving for the 2001 race, it is indeed an egalitarian event, attracting yachts as small as 30-footers and as big as 100-footers, sailed by crews who range from weekend club sailors to professionals from the America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race circuits. The 1000 or so people who crew on board the yachts contesting the Rolex Sydney Hobart come from many countries of the world and from many different professions they range in age from 18 to over 80.
While the crews are at sea friends and family can put their minds at ease by following the fleets progress via the race tracker.
Each yacht will be fitted with a YB tracker that will obtain a position using the Iridium GPS satellite network, and then transmit that position back to YB HQ using the Iridium satellite network. The data is then visualised and shows stats such as distance to finish line and progressive corrected time positions under the IRC, ORCi and PHS handicap divisions.
For more information, history and the race tracker please visit the official website.