Sydney Expert

Best Places to Watch the Sydney to Hobart Race

Are you looking for the best place to watch the Sydney to Hobart race? I have three favourite ways to see all the action unfold that I would like to share with you, so let’s go… 

Over the years, watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart has become a Sydney holiday tradition. Thankfully, the race has a lunchtime start, so there is no need to crawl out of bed at dawn to be part of the action.

Updated: 14 December 2023

What is the Sydney to Hobart?

What time does the sydney to hobart race start, where does the race actually start, up close in the middle of the action on a harbour cruise, boxing day lunch cruise, boxing day byo picnic cruise, boxing day race to bondi cruise, from the north – mosman and middle head, from the south – the gap and south head.

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Every Boxing day since 1945, (other than 2020 because of Covid) Sydney Harbour has hosted the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. An arduous journey of 628 nautical miles south to Constitution Dock in Hobart. These yachts, from small vessels to super maxis, make an impressive sight as they leave the harbour and add the spectator craft, and it feels like a party out there.

Racing Sailboat with Crew on Ocean

The race attracts sailors with a variety of experience from weekend warriors to professionals. This year sees 120 boats registered , including 9 international boats.

Not being much of a sailor I had been content to watch it on TV for years however about 5 years ago I had a cousin visiting from Canada, and she was keen to see the race up close, so I was finally convinced to leave the comfort of the sofa and check it out. Even for a non-sailing enthusiast, it was damn impressive. I can see why it’s a favourite way to spend Boxing Day.

Some race basics

The starter’s gun will sound at 1 pm with a warning shot ten minutes earlier. However, boats will start getting into a position from much earlier, and the harbour is a pretty incredible site with all the competitors and spectator vessels filling this usually spacious waterway.

The official starting line is just off Nielsen Park, making this one of the most popular spots on the eastern shore to watch the action. Read more about how they manage the start of the race on the official Sydney to Hobart website.

sydney to hobart yacht race how to watch

Where are the best places to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart race 

That’s a good question and one with more than one correct answer, here are my three favourites.

I don’t think you can go past watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart from the water. Being out amongst the action as the boats head down the harbour and out of the heads is fantastic. You can see the sailors working furiously to get into position for the start and see all the little boats jostle for the best spots.

Tip : It can feel a bit more choppy with all the boats moving about, so if you are partial to seasickness, it might be an idea to grab some tablets.

Lots of boats on offer with a variety of price points and luxury. Some of my favourites are:

Captain Cook Gold Cruise seating

Captain Cook Cruises

One of the premium operators on the harbour Captain Cook will have three vessels out to get amount the Boxing Day action this year.

You can choose from the 3 hour BYO picnic cruise (on board bar), the popular lunch cruise and a special cruise that will travel outside the heads to Bondi!

The MV Sydney 2000 is a great ship with a full roof deck for the best views and commentary and TV coverage inside the boat to keep up to date with all the action.

One of the main reasons I like this cruise is the amount of space on the outdoor decks and the huge picture windows that are a feature of the boat.

Captain Cook Boxing Day Cruise view

They also have a fantastic spot to anchor at Parsley Bay between Watsons Bay and Nielson Park, which sees them perfectly positioned to watch the vessels race to the Heads.

Seating is at individual tables, and the huge windows mean everyone can see. Window seating is available too. This year they are offering two dining options across the ship’s three decks.

  • Sky Deck – which is a 5-course premium menu with a beverage package that includes house spirits, superior wines, beers & soft drinks.
  • Club Deck – a 3 course menu with a beverage package of superior house wines, beers & soft drinks.
  • Ocean Deck – Shared platters, reserved seating and a welcome drink included – Sold out!

sydney to hobart yacht race how to watch

All levels have access to the outdoor open star deck

The Cruise departs 10.30am Darling Harbour, King St Wharf and returns at approx 3pm.

Board the John Cadman and make your way to the eastern corner of the harbour, dropping anchor at noon near Parsley Bay to watch the fleet make their way out of the heads.

The race begins at 1pm and the ship will stay put until 2pm when it will spend the next hour on a relaxed cruise returning to the wharf at 3pm.

sydney to hobart yacht race how to watch

Got the stomach for the open seas? Follow the action and the fleet out of the heads and down to Bondi on one of the Red Rocket Catamarans.

sydney to hobart yacht race how to watch

This 2.5-hour cruise is BYO everything , including drinks. There is indoor and outdoor seating and free wifi on board.

Vagabond’s MV Spirit

3 hour Boxing Day sail will be out on the water near the starting line for the big race. Along with great views of the Sydney to Hobart race, the captain will provide live race commentary. The price includes a 3-course seafood and carvery set menu. Beverages may be purchased on board. The cruise departs from Circular Quay at 11:30am and return approx 2:30pm.

The 2021 race celebrated 75 years of women in the race with excellent representation across the fleet

A harbourside picnic is a great way to use up some of the Christmas day leftovers and relax at the same time. Depending on how energetic you feel, you could combine a bit of a bushwalk to reach your chosen picnic spot.

Watching the Sydney to Hobart race from the shoreline at Mosman

One of my favourites is Georges Heights Lookout at Mosman. If Christmas festivities have you worn out, you might want to make the trip by bus otherwise you can easily walk from Taronga Wharf. Parking is at a premium so leave the car behind if you can.

Where: Georges Heights lookout along the Taronga to Balmoral Beach walk When: Front row positions fill quickly I suggest being in your spot by noon. How:  M30 or 178 buses from Wynyard Wheel-friendly: not really, prams with plenty of lifting may be possible Dog-friendly : No

Related: Check out more great picnic spots here

Many suggest that the trek up to the lighthouse is THE best Sydney to Hobart view. You can watch the yachts race up the harbour and view them as they move out of the heads and along the coast.

Sydney to Hobart Field leaving the Sydney Harbour

It certainly is popular here, so pack your picnic basket and nab your position early. I would say by 10 am to be safe. If you are coming from Circular Quay ferries will stop running at about 11.40am and start again at about 1.45pm. Do not attempt to drive here. There is no parking by just after sunrise!

With three great dining options, Watson’s bay is also my favourite choice if you prefer not to pack a picnic. Choose from a fish and chip take away from the wharf, a pub lunch from the Watson’s Bay hotel or fine dining at Doyle’s on the beachfront. All will be busy and require patience 🙂

Where:   Hornby Lighthouse  When:  Early – say 10 am to allow time to grab something to eat and walk up to the lighthouse  How: Early ferry from Circular Quay (they have stopped by 11 am in previous years) or bus 324, 325 or 380  from either Circular Quay or Edgecliff stations. Parking here is terrible on a good day, so try to avoid bringing your car if you can.  Cost: Meals from $10 takeaway to $$$ at Doyles

Looking for somewhere to stay near all the action? Check out the Watson’s Bay Hotel or Hotel Bondi

Where do you think is the best place to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race? Do you have any insider tips to share?

Have questions about things to see and do in Sydney? Head over and join our Facebook Group and we will be happy to help

5 thoughts on “Best Places to Watch the Sydney to Hobart Race”

Living near San Diego harbor I know how thrilling a big race can be. Love the different choices you’ve outlined and wish I were going to be there to cheer the race on.

Wow, it must be some sight to see all the yachts making their way from the start. I’d love to take part, but I know that conditions can be really hairy on the Sydney-Hobart, so watching from the clifftops might be the best place to be.

Looks like a really fun event! Have never been to Sydney but we will be there in 2016 for a few months. Will try to catch this if possible, thanks for the tips on best places to watch it from!

The Sydney to Hobart race seems amazing. When I visited Sydney earlier this year, I remember seeing all of the stunning boats. I can barely imagine how exciting this will be.

Best place I watched it from was Sydney Tower. I became the unofficial commentator to all those around me and much cheaper than going by boat

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Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race Ultimate Guide: Why pensioners Kathy Veel and Bridget Canham are aiming to go one better this year

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race Ultimate Guide: Why pensioners Kathy Veel and Bridget Canham are aiming to go one better this year

In last year's Sydney to Hobart , Kathy Veel and Bridget Canham lit up Constitution Dock right on the brink of the New Year.

Onboard their Yacht 'Currawong', the two sailed over the finish line 18 minutes before the clock ticked over 2023.

While they may have finished 83rd, they were winners in the eyes of everyone watching on, having become the first-ever two-handed female crew to conquer Australia's greatest sailing event.

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Now they're back, ready to compete again on Boxing Day.

And while they're used to bunking in close quarters, 71-year-old Veel and 63-year-old Canham haven't always been overly familiar with each other.

sydney to hobart yacht race how to watch

"We are (close) now. We weren't close friends particularly when we started this but now we've spent so much time together ... we pretty much know what each other is going to say next," Veel told 9News Sydney.

For both women, while there is a definite love of sailing, another motivator for competing in the prestigious race is overcoming a stigma around their age.

"Just because you get to a certain age, it doesn't mean your future is in the bridge club or the bowls club," Veel said.

"You can inspire people to reach their own goals, they don't have to do a Sydney to Hobart, their own goal might be to own their own boat or learn how to sail," Canham added.

Last year, the satisfaction for both women came from crossing the finish line at Constitution Dock last year.

No doubt, there was pandemonium with the sound of cheers from spectators, coupled by the sight of fireworks only minutes after finishing.

But the two sailors aren't satisfied with just completing the race this year.

"I want to be there to welcome the last boat in," Veel said.

Ahead of the 2023 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, here is everything you need to know.

What time does the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race start?

The famed bluewater yacht race kicks off on Sydney Harbour at 1pm AEDT on Tuesday, December 26.

Who has entered into the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race?

113 boats have entered for the 78th running of the event including four 100-foot maxis and several past winners.

There are 10 international entrants including three from New Zealand, two from Hong Kong, and competitors from New Caledonia, USA, France, Germany and Ireland.

Australia is represented across all six states with New South Wales boasting 60 entries while Queensland fields 18, Victoria 15, Tasmania seven, Western Australia two, and South Australia one.

How long is the race?

The race is 628 nautical miles long and takes an the winner around 48 hours or just under to complete.

How can you watch the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race?

You can watch the race via the 7 Network, with live coverage beginning on 7Mate from 12.30pm (AEDT) on Boxing Day.

Where is the best place to see the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race?

Accor Sydney recommends watching from the northern shore of Sydney, or even from around the Harbour Bridge. You'll likely be able to see the yachts pass you by at Cremorne Point, Bradley's Head and Clifton Gardens.

As for Hobart, finding a spot at Battery Point, where the races finishes, is your best bet.

Who is the favourite to win the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race?

There are a few favourites for the 2023 race.

TAB has Andoo Comanche at $1.50, followed by Law Connect at $3.60 and SHK Scallywag at $8.00.

What is the prize for winning the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race?

The winners will take home the Tattersall Cup. It was first presented in 1946 by the Executors of the Estate of the late George Adams, who was the founder of Tattersall Lotteries in Hobart.

Who are the previous winners of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

2000: SAP Ausmaid

2001: Bumblebee 5

2002: Quest

2003: First National

2005: Wild Oats XI

2006: Love & War

2007: Rosebud

2008: Quest

2009: Two True

2010: Secret Men's Business 3.5

2012: Wild Oats XI

2013: Victoire

2014: Wild Rose

2015: Balance

2016: Giacomo

2017: Ichi Ban

2018: Alive

2019: Ichi Ban

2020: Not conducted

2021: Ichi Ban

2022: Celestial

What is the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race record?

The race record of 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, and 24 seconds was set by LDV Comanche for Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant in 2017.

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Comanche backed to defend sydney to hobart crown in any weather.

Jasper Bruce

Sydney Hobart race set to sail

Skipper John Winning Jr is backing Andoo Comanche to defend her line honours title in any conditions as the Rolex Sydney to Hobart ’s weather forecast remains unpredictable.

On Christmas Eve, the Bureau of Meteorology said uncertainty remained as to wind, waves and weather from Boxing Day after revealing an unusually vague long-range forecast on Monday.

The position of a trough and low-pressure system moving south-east on Tuesday and Wednesday is set to dictate conditions. More clarity is expected early on December 26.

The four 100ft supermaxi yachts may have to contend with stormy conditions from late Tuesday into Wednesday, with showers, gusts and hail all possible for the far-south NSW Coast and Bass Strait.

“Pack another set of thermal gear. It’ll be cold,” said SHK Scallywag skipper David Witt.

The forecast has changed throughout the week, leaving crews to suggest that having an adaptable navigator on board could be a game-changer.

“For us, it’s about trusting each person’s role on the boat,” Winning said.

“We back our boat in any conditions to win the race, whether it’s upwind, downwind, light wind, reaching or whatever it is.

John Winning Jnr lifts the trophy after winning the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race last year.

“Obviously we’d like conditions that would see us get there as fast as possible.

“But if it is that we’re out there for 48-plus hours, then we still think our boat is fast in all conditions and we’ve proven that in previous races.”

Last year, Comanche stormed to Constitution Dock in one day, 11 hours, 56 minutes and 48 seconds - the second-fastest time for any line honours winner in Hobart history.

Winning’s boat thrived in heavy, downwind conditions in 2022 but the skipper said a line honours win in last year’s Brisbane to Hamilton Island race proved she could stick it in lighter weather.

“We had an edge in the other conditions, when it was a bit windier or reaching. We put distance on (the other supermaxis) a lot faster than they put distance on us in the light,” he said.

“That gave us a lot of confidence.

“We think we’re the fastest boat downwind in wind and we think we can hang in there in the light as well as anyone.

“Certainly it’s not going to be three knots the whole way to Hobart.”

LawConnect, runner-up for line honours in the last three Hobarts, looms as Comanche’s biggest threat to clinching back-to-back John H Illingworth Challenge Cups.

The boat’s crew will hope their dominance of this month’s Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour can translate to a fast start out of the Heads on Boxing Day.

LawConnect, formerly known as InfoTrack and Perpetual Loyal, is particularly strong upwind.

“If we could get that all the way, that’d be awesome,” said sailing master Tony Mutter.

LawConnect won’t shy away from the rough conditions that could come with the predicted low pressure system.

“We actually prefer it, the more tactical it is, the better for us, we feel,” Mutter said.

“We kind of need that to be a thing for us to have a chance to win.”

How to watch

The Rolex Sydney to Hobart will be on Seven and 7plus from 12:30pm AEDT on Boxing Day.

The race officially starts at 1pm AEDT with the traditional firing of a starting canon at Sydney Harbour.

Sydney to Hobart fleet

103 yachts have confirmed their participation for this year’s race. The full list of entrants can be found here .

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How to follow the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race

  • Toby Heppell
  • December 19, 2022

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Race is due to set off on boxing day once again in 2022, with an impressive 111 boats due to take to the startline

sydney to hobart yacht race how to watch

Sydney sailors are counting down the days – not until December 25, but the 26, for the much-anticipated Rolex Sydney Hobart Race .

The blue riband offshore classic was cancelled for the first time in its 76 years in 2020, but bounced back in 2021 and will go ahead one more this year with an impressive fleet of 111 boats entered for the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which begins on Sydney Harbour at 1pm Monday 26 December.

As is often the case in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, the bulk of the fleet is made up of Australian boats and teams, but there are 8 international boats participating this year, including entrants from Germany ( Orione ), Hong Kong ( Antipodes ), Hungary ( Cassiopeia 68 ), New Caledonia ( Eye Candy and Poulpito ), New Zealand ( Caro ), the United Kingdom ( Sunrise ) and the United States of America ( Warrior Won ).

At the sharp end of the fleet, four 100-foot maxis will lead the charge for Line Honours – Andoo Comanche , Black Jack , Hamilton Island Wild Oats and LawConnect . On current form, Andoo Comanche is likely to be favourite to cross the finish line first.

cruising-australia-2018-sydney-hobart-credit-rolex-carlo-borlenghi

The start of the Sydney Hobart Race means a congested Sydney Harbour. Photo: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

Black Jack won Line Honours in the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart, while Andoo Comanche holds the race record (1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds) and Hamilton Island Wild Oats (formerly Wild Oats XI ) has the most Line Honours wins in race history, with nine.

Two-handed entrants will for the first time be eligible to win the Tattersall Cup (the prize given to the winner of the race on handicap). A total of 21 two-handed boats are preparing to race, including those that finished second and third respectively in the race’s inaugural Two-Handed Division last year – Crux (Carlos Aydos/Peter Grayson) and Speedwell (Campbell Geeves/Wendy Tuck).

How to follow the 2022 Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race

• In Australia Sydney is expected to send off the fleet in style when the race starts at 1300hrs (local time) on Saturday, 26 December.

Spectator boats can watch the start from the eastern channel and follow the fleet down the Harbour to the Heads. Spectator boats wanting to remain in the Harbour may remain in the western side. Exclusion zones will be in place from 1200-1400.

• On television The race start will be broadcast live via the Seven Network, through 7Mate around Australia.

Live coverage will also be webcast on the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race website, with replays available shortly after. See  https://rolexsydneyhobart.com/

• On social Follow the event on twitter for race updates and via  Facebook

• On race tracker The live race tracker will be viewable at  https://rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker

• Play along on Virtual Regatta

There is also a Virtual Regatta edition for the race, allowing you to virtually pit yourself against thousands over the same course, see  https://www.virtualregatta.com/en/offshore-game/

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TV and streaming made easy.

How to watch Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and Boxing Day test match Live

The Rolex Sydney To Hobart Yacht Race ranks alongside the Melbourne Cup and Boxing Day Test Match as one the biggest sporting events on the Australian sporting calendar, and the 2023 edition will be no different.

Here in 2023 there’s a number of yachts jostling for favouritism, so it’s shaping up to be a thrilling race, and you can watch every key moment of this prestigious event as well as other popular Boxing Day sport live from the comfort of your home using the information below.

Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2023

The first Sydney To Hobart Yacht Race, also known as the Bluewater Classic, took place in 1945 and had just nine starters. The winner of the race was Rani, who covered the course in just a tick over six and a half days.

Fast forward to 2005 and Wild Oats Xl took just 42 hours. That number has been even further reduced since – in 2016, Perpetual LOYAL broke the previous record by close to five hours only to have that record beaten by four hours the following year by LDV Comanche, who completed the race in just 33 hours.

Here in 2023 the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the race organizers, celebrated the admission of 10 foreign yachts—including 18 two-handed entries—into this year’s fleet of 103 vessels on Friday. The ten come from New Zealand, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, and New Caledonia.

When is the the Sydney to Hobart race live on TV today?

An historic agreement between the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) and the Seven Network ensures the famous Boxing Day broadcast of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race will remain an Australian tradition for years to come.

Under the new agreement, channel Seven will remain the exclusive broadcaster of the race start across the country until 2023, which is good news for a peak audience of more than 1.5 million viewers that tuned into last year’s event.

One of the largest fields in the event’s history will take to Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day for the start of the historic 78th edition. Channel Seven’s 2023 coverage of the race will be hosted by Mark Beretta who is a veteran of 32 Sydney Hobart races, and Comanche’s 2017 winning skipper Jimmy Spithill.

To help bring viewers an up close look at the excitement of this iconic moment, Seven will have cameras on-board previous line-honours winners Wild Oats XI and Comanche.

ABC TV will also be following the fleet down the eastern coastal and provide all the in-race update footage that is used by the various Australian and International news networks.

Sydney To Hobart Race Live TV Times

When is the boxing day test live on tv today in australia.

The Summer of Cricket is fully underway and there is nothing quite like the Boxing Day Cricket Match at the MCG. Close to 100,000 people will flock to the iconic sports ground for the first day of one of the great events of Australian sport.

Traditionally Australia have an outstanding record in this game, regardless of the opponent or their form leading-up, but the South African side head into this series in good form and will provide a stern Test for the home team.

How to watch 2023 Boxing Day sport live in Australia

Boxing day is a traditional day for sport in Australia, with the annual Test Match and Sydney to Hobart yacht race leading an exciting all day line-up. While you can watch both of these features on free to air Channel Seven, the majority of the remaining sport fixtures for the day are available exclusively on Foxtel, Foxtel from Telstra and Kayo Sports streaming.

Fortunately, in addition to having live coverage of the key Boxing Day sport, both Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports currently offers new subscribers a free trial.

Foxtel Now’s free trial is good for 10 days, and is available to use with a plethora of devices, while the sports streaming service Kayo’s free trial offering is good for a full 7 days.

Additional Live Boxing Day Sport on Australian TV

Watch live sport online with foxtel now.

One option to watch all the available sport on Boxing Day is with Foxtel or Foxtel Now. The Foxtel Now streaming service offers access to all the sport on Foxtel via their Sports Pack.

That means that you get access to all the live and on-demand sports Foxtel has to offer, including the other leagues, matches and events taking place for that month.

To start you can check it out with a 10-day free trial , after which you will need to pay for both the Sports Pack and the Essentials Pack, as the two products come as a team. In addition to being internet-connected, Foxtel Now also includes the option to stream live sports using the Foxtel Go app when you’re away from home

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Watch sports, premium drama, and movies with the Essentials + Drama + Sport + Movies bundle at only $58/mth for 12 months. Plus, new customers can stream for 10 days FREE!

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Stream sports live with Kayo

With Kayo you will have access to the same sports broadcasts as Foxtel, and can stream all the available sport to eligible devices and browsers. For fans who want to catch up on the late-night or early-morning action, Kayo Minis provide a condensed match recap after the play has concluded.

Other Kayo features include Interactive Graphics, SplitView, No Spoilers, and Key Moments, which provide highlights throughout the matches in real-time.

Best of all, if you’re a brand new prospective customer to Kayo Sports, you can take advantage of a 7-day free trial period , allowing you to watch your favourite events for free, as well as the rest of the content on their service.

Kayo doesn’t have a lock-in contract or equipment fees, which means you can cancel anytime if you’re no longer using it. If you want to check out Kayo after your trial is over simply choose between the Basic or Premium plans.

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2023 Fastnet Smallest & 2nd Oldest Boat: Little Aussie Maluka

Maluka

The little Aussie fighter Maluka, built in 1932, had already won her class in the Sydney Hobart – twice. Nic Compton asks… Could she do the same in the 2023 Fastnet?

The little aussie maluka in the 2023 fastnet.

You have to admire Sean Langman’s pluck. Even before the 2023 Fastnet had begun, he had placed bets on his Maluka – the smallest and second oldest boat in the fleet – beating a Sigma 33 racing in the same class. Not on handicap, mind, but on the water. It seemed like a preposterous idea, a 1932 gaff-rigged 28-footer taking on a relatively modern cruiser-racer , never mind the Swan 36 and Sagitta 35 (both S&S designed fin-keelers) also racing in that class. But it wasn’t impossible. After all, this little Australian-born survivor had already competed in eight Sydney to Hobart races since she was restored in 2006, winning her class in two of them. Could she pull off the same trick on the other side of the world? I had to find out.

Maluka

Maluka and her crew were in tidying up mode when I visited them at Ocean Village Marina in Southampton three days before the start of the race. Bags were being unloaded, the cabin sole hoovered and tools tidied away in anticipation of a rough passage. Sean proudly showed me the new ‘baby stay’ he had just fitted so that they could set three headsails during the race without affecting the boat’s IRC handicap: a flying jib from the end of the bowsprit, a staysail on the forestay, and the storm trysail on the baby stay. 

Crack crew for a quick spin

What was immediately apparent looking at Maluka from the outside was the uncompromising mix of modern and traditional materials. The bowsprit, rubbing strake and capping rail are all made of varnished spotted gum, with its quirky, swirling grain giving a reassuringly ‘woody’ feel. Look more closely and the flawless hull is clearly sheathed, while the stout brown mast is painted carbon fibre. And there are more than enough self-tailing winches, halyard jammers, modern cordage (including Dyneema forestays) and some very expensive-looking laminated sails to get the purists all hot under the collar. 

It so happened that Sean wanted to try out the sails that day, so I joined Maluka for a quick spin around Southampton Water. And what a crew we had. Sean himself is something of a legend in Australian yachting circles, having raced everything from 18ft skiffs and 49ers as well as 30 appearances in the Sydney to Hobart Race. Also on board Maluka was his long-time friend Gordon Maguire (aka ‘Gorgeous Gordy’), a veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race and five-times winner of the Sydney to Hobart. And, just as we were about to leave the dock, British sailing legend Ian Barker (49er champion and Silver medallist at the 2000 Olympics ) hopped on board for the ride.

Maluka sailing

With such an illustrious crew on board, there was no doubt that Maluka would be taken through her paces. And, despite the laid-back Australian vibe, what soon became apparent was how hard these guys sail, even on an old gaffer. As we tacked upwind in a gentle breeze, the sheets were winched in taut and the sails centred and flat. There was little concession for the age of the boat or the limitations of gaff rig when sailing to windward. 

In truth, modern sail materials combined with a stiffer hull and rig structure have massively improved the performance of a ‘modern gaffer’ such as Maluka , which means that even upwind she is able to hold her own against most modern yachts. And that is the main reason she is able to compete in events such as the Sydney to Hobart and the Fastnet races with impunity. Although, as ever, speed is relative, especially in the context of one of the most competitive yacht races in the world.

“You’ve got to take your watch off when you’re racing on Maluka ,” Sean said before the race, “because if you keep looking at your watch then you’re going to going to end up slashing your wrist. The plan is to keep her trumping along, don’t try to sail too high; it’s about getting water under the keel and staying on the making leg. With Maluka , it’s about getting to the other end and enjoying the challenge of getting there. At times you get exhilarated, at times you get frustrated – but she has got a 9ft-long quarter berth with a very thick cushion, and I just bought some new pillows…”

Internal

Early fame for Maluka

It’s all a long way (physically and metaphorically) from Maluka ’s roots on the east coast of Australia. Two wealthy brothers, George and William Clark, who had made their fortune grazing sheep in the Australian outback, were looking for a seaworthy boat to sail further afield. They turned to amateur yacht designer Cliff Gale who, as well as skippering the Fife 9-Metre Josephine to victory on many occasions, had designed a string of small boats for local sailors. It seems likely that Gale had been working on the design of a 24ft family centreboarder for his own use, and when the Clark brothers approached him, he offered them a scaled-up version of that design. 

The new design had the same, distinctive raised foredeck as the smaller boat but, instead of a centreboard, was fitted with what might be best described as a long fin keel, giving her a cutaway bow and a 5ft 6in draft. Combined with a 10ft 5in beam and a firm tuck on the bilges, it made for a fast and stable boat with enough reserve buoyancy to feel safe in a seaway. Maluka was built of Huon pine by legendary Sydney boatbuilder William ‘Billy’ Fisher and launched in 1932.

1930s maluka

The Clark brothers had ambitious plans for their new acquisition and, in an age when few people ventured far afield in small yachts, became famous for their long cruises on Australia’s east coast, sailing to Queensland, Tasmania, and Lord Howe Island – the latter some 425 miles northeast of Sydney. Not all their voyages went to plan. Their first attempt to sail to Tasmania ended in disaster when Maluka was wrecked on rocks on the coast of Victoria. Undaunted, they patched her up, sailed her back to Sydney, and the following year tried again, this time reaching their intended destination – thereby anticipating the first Sydney to Hobart race by ten years.

Meanwhile, no doubt prompted by the success of Maluka , Gale pressed ahead with his 24-footer, which was also built of huon pine by Billy Fisher and launched a year after Maluka . With its large cockpit and useful accommodation space, it proved an ideal family boat for Sydney Harbour, and half a dozen sisterships were soon built. The boats became known as the Ranger class, after the first boat built to the design.

Maluka early

Reclaiming the Ranger yachts

It was one of these smaller boats that drew Sean Langman back into classic yachts. Born in Sydney on a 52ft pearling lugger, Sean was a former rigger turned entrepreneur who set up a shipyard business (the Noakes Group) as well as owning a string of hotels and ferries. His family had owned the Ranger class Vagrant back in the 1960s and 70s, and Sean grew up sailing the boat on Sydney Harbour. He was 12 years old when they eventually sold her and he says he cried for a month and vowed to buy her back again one day. 

It was nearly 20 years before Sean was able to make his childhood promise come true. By then, the boat was suffering the effects of a long life in a hot climate, and Sean set about restoring her – not in a purist fashion, but using modern materials wherever necessary to make her stiff and strong enough to race competitively. Sean had by then become a regular fixture in the Sydney yachting scene, racing ultra-modern boats such as the 90ft maxi AAPT (ex- Nicorette ). His foray into wooden boats might have seemed like a romantic gesture, until he came across Maluka and started thinking about the possibilities of racing this slightly larger Ranger-type design.

“I had just moved into the push-button, canting-keel, super-maxi offshore racing scene, and I absolutely hated it. I felt really disenfranchised by such a reliance on engines and technology – it didn’t feel like real sailing,” he says. “Then I read about the Clark brothers and their exploits on Maluka , including sailing to Tasmania ten years before the first Sydney to Hobart race, and I wondered if we could do the same.” 

Maluka early

Restoring Maluka for racing rules

Bringing Maluka up to standard to comply with 21 st century race scantling rules, however, required some radical work. Firstly, the old deadwood was removed and replaced with recycled mahogany from a superyacht packing case, adding a few inches to her draft in the process. All the frames were removed and replaced with 62 spotted gum steam-bent frames and three laminated flooded gum ring frames, all traditionally fastened with copper nails and roves. Then the entire hull was sheathed with six layers of glassfibre and epoxy. 

The original cockpit was too big to comply with race rules, so it was removed (it was rotten anyway) and replaced with a shallower version with higher seats. The coachroof was extended aft by 18in, to reduce the length of the cockpit, and the original red cedar deck was covered with a layer of plywood and sealed with two layers of glassfibre to bring it up to the required thickness. 

rebuild maluka

Below decks, the original joinery, which looked in terrible shape under countless layers of shellac, cleaned up beautifully with the help of a little oven cleaner. That all went back in unaltered, apart from a new, lower cabin sole. The longer coachroof and raised cockpit created more space which allowed Sean to enlarge the galley and chart table as well as freeing space for a couple of 9ft long quarter berths. 

Sean then turned his attention to the rig. First the symmetric spinnaker and overlapping genoa were removed, to improve her IRC rating. Then the mainsail area was reduced and the amount of roach was diminished. The more he and the sailmakers at Doyle worked on it, the closer the sail plan returned to its original 1932 configuration. The main addition was a super-lightweight Code Zero spinnaker for light winds, with longer crosstrees and a Dyform wire forestay to support it. 

rebuild

The original plan had been to make a new wooden mast for the boat, but with time running out for the start of the 2006 Sydney to Hobart race, the Noakes boatbuilding team realised it would be quicker to make one out of carbon fibre. The resulting mast took just three days to build and, while not especially light, is described as “bullet proof” – as proven when it suffered a 360° knockdown in 75-knot winds in the Bass Strait. 

Maluka surprised everyone in the 2006 Sydney to Hobart not only by NOT finishing last but by winning the Plumb Crazy Trophy for first yacht under 9.5m to finish the race. More to the point, she was by far the oldest boat in the fleet. The very idea of the Clark’s knockabout cruiser competing in such an auspicious event must have seemed ludicrous – until she did it.

240 miles in 24 hours

The boat has raced in seven editions of the race since then, with mixed results. She finished last in 2011 and 2012, but recorded her top ever speed of 17.7 knots in 2014 – quite an achievement for a 29ft monohull. In 2016 she broke her 24-hour record, clocking up 240 miles with a top speed of 14 knots and winning her IRC class. The secret of her success that year seemed to be an extreme form of water ballast.

“Our take-no-prisoners approach to sailing Maluka meant that she had three on the helm and, by allowing the cockpit to fill with water, she maintained sufficient stern-down trim to carry full sail in winds exceeding 30 knots,” Sean wrote in the Old Gaffers Association’s Logbook. “At the time I didn’t admit it to the crew but this was, to me, both exciting as well as frightening sailing.”

In between times, Sean was still messing about on modern boats, culminating in 2018 with his 69ft Reichel/Pugh design Moneypenny . He was racing on Moneypenny in the 2022 Sydney to Hobart Race while Peter was on Maluka and was reportedly in tears when Maluka finished first in IRC Division 5, two days after Moneypenny finished first in Division 0. It was a special moment for father and son, sailing one of the fastest ( Moneypenny was 9 th over the line) and one of the slowest ( Maluka was 97 th ) boats in the race. 

Surviving the gale-bound 2023 Fastnet

When it came to competing in the Fastnet race, however, Sean always knew he wanted to bring the older boat to Europe. And so in the middle of May 2023, Maluka arrived in Cork. The Irish port happened to be the nearest place the boat could conveniently be shipped to but, as Sean points out, the delivery trip from Cork to Southampton did allow him to check out the first half of the Fastnet course (albeit in reverse) and to get acquainted with those pesky tides – something Australian sailors don’t usually have to worry about. As Sean says, “We don’t have double tides on the Australian east coast. They go in one direction and average a 1.2 metre maximum range. They also run at most one knot. ”  

After a gentle cruise up the south coast of England, all hell broke loose for the start for the 2023 Rolex Fastnet Race. Winds of over 40 knots screamed down the Solent as a fleet of 430 yachts battled across the start line off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes . The wind was from the southwest, which meant the fleet had to beat to windward as it headed past the Needles, down the English Channel and onwards to the Irish Sea. One boat sank, four were dismasted and more than 100 entrants retired with the first 24 hours.

at sea

Despite the dire conditions, Maluka toughed it out long after many much bigger competitors had given up. She might have been the smallest and second oldest boat in the fleet, but her progress in the first 24 hours was nothing short of outstanding, as she hugged the south coast of England, while the ‘big boys’ fought it out in the English Channel. On board with Sean were the aforementioned Gordon Maguire, along with Volvo Ocean Race veteran Josh Alexander, Sean’s son Peter, and long-time Noakes employee and regular crew Peter Inchbold. 

The next day, skipper Sean Langman summed things up in his own inimitable way: “Been a little fruity out here,” he wrote on Facebook. “Little Maluka and crew toughed out a big night. Now reaping beautiful sailing.”

It was only when the wind eased crossing the Irish Sea that the old lady began to feel her age and slowed down somewhat. Her finish time was 6 days, 3 hours and 40 minutes, making her 185 th out of 201 IRC finishers. As for that pesky Sigma 33, she finished just an hour and a half ahead of Maluka , pushing the much older boat into second place over the line, although Maluka still won the class (IRC Division 4B) comfortably on handicap. Sean had lost his bet but, more importantly, Maluka had won the race. 

The crew could go home with their heads held high, knowing they had taken on the best Europe could throw at them and won. And this time they didn’t even have to flood the cockpit with sea water.

Designed Cliff Gale

Built William ‘Billy’ Fisher, 1932

Beam 10ft 5in 

Draught 5ft 6in

Keep Track of Maluka

You can keep track of the fleet , and learn about other competitors on the Fastnet website.

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Pak Lah's 'crystal' vision for T'gganu

Thursday, 16 May 2024

- Zabidi Tusin/The Star

KUALA TERENGGANU: Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been credited for taking Terengganu to a higher level of development during his tenure as the country’s fifth Prime Minister.

Among his brainchild is the Crystal Mosque located in Wan Man, Kuala Terengganu, which has been regularly ranked as one of the best in the world by travel sites.

The iconic mosque is also located at the Islamic Heritage Park, which is the only one in the country.

Delivering his inaugural lecture as an adjunct professor at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, property developer Datuk Patrick Lim paid tribute to Abdullah, 85, and shared the inspirations of the retired leader to the audience.

His lecture was titled: Realisation of a Vision, Thinking Beyond Boundaries, The Tun Abdullah Vision for Terengganu.

“We called it Crystal Mosque because in our minds comes nature and nature is the work of God.

“In keeping with the theme, our minarets are bezel. When this mosque was designed, we thought of illuminating in a different way. It is lit up at night with the colours of amber.

Datuk Patrick Lim

“When the mosque was designed, it also took into consideration that being made of glass, the Crystal Mosque could get very warm.

“The Crystal Mosque is designed with a cooling system that takes the water from the bottom and cools it. At the same time, the glass was laminated with gold because gold is nature.

“This is why when you see the mosque in the daytime, it looks magnificent and that is the Crystal Mosque," said Lim, who was involved in the development of the project.

Calling Abdullah a statesman, Lim, who regarded himself as a builder and planner, described Pak Lah - as he is affectionately called - as a man ahead of his time.

“Even 20 years ago, he already had the vision that people should not be displaced or be forced to move to big cities," said Lim, adding that he was already talking about green ecology.

Johor Baru-based Lim also said Abdullah saw the tourism potential of Terengganu even during the Monsoon period which brought heavy rains and choppy seas that prevented fishermen from going out.

He said the idea of the Monsoon Cup, a yacht race in the state that was first held in 2015, was inspired by the Sydney Hobart Race with the hope of making it like the America’s Cup.

It was meant to bring economic benefits to the state even during the Monsoon season, Lim added, with careful considerations to the heritage and faith of the people in the state.

Describing Abdullah as a humble person, in paying tribute to the former Umno president, Lim said the former PM always had the interest of the people, including the people of Terengganu, at heart.

Lim said he wanted to share with the young, especially university students, what Abdullah had done for the state.

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Hydrogen-powered aircraft in development by Australian company AMSL Aero aims for net zero aviation

While the race to transform electric vehicles on land speeds up, it is a different story in the sky.

Battery technology is not yet able to power even the smallest aircraft beyond 200 kilometres, and in Australia, that is hardly worth the effort.

But an Australian aviation startup on a mission to decarbonise air travel is developing a battery that could power a small aircraft to travel 1,000 km using hydrogen, and it already has a customer.

AMSL Aero received the first commercial order for its Vertiia aircraft from Aviation Logistics, the company behind regional airline AirLink.

AirLink chief executive Matthew Kline said the purchase was key to meet industry plans to be net zero by 2050.

"Using hydrogen is a game-changer for us, we can get up to 1,000km flight distance and that's what we need for the work we do," he said.

A person in a fluro jacket pushes open the door of an aircraft hangar to reveal a small electric aircraft

The next decade of aviation policy will be outlined with the release of the federal government's Aviation White Paper later this year.

Last year's Green Paper indicated two areas of focus were net zero emissions and accessibility for regional and remote communities, both of which could be supported by aircraft known as Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) services.

Vertiia is the first Australian-made aircraft to apply for AAM-type certification through the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

A rendered image of an electric aircraft on tarmac with the sun setting in the distance

In a statement, CASA called it an exciting yet "daunting" task, considering Vertiia had features of both a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft.

"Nobody's done this in Australia ever and in that sense, it will be breaking new ground," said manager of aircraft certification, Klaus Schwerdtfeger.

Testing is already underway at an airstrip near Wellington, in central-west New South Wales, and if all regulatory approvals are met, operations could begin in 2027.

AirLink plans to initially rollout Vertiia for its freight and charter flight services, with a view of later introducing the hydrogen-powered aircraft for its scheduled service flying Dubbo, Walgett, Bourke and Lightning Ridge.

A man and a woman stand in front of an electric aircraft inside an airplane hangar

"At the moment, we fly out to Bourke and leave the aircraft out there all day before we fly back in the afternoon," Mr Kline said.

"But because the running costs are so much lower, we could bring that aircraft back and do other flights or run there and back a few times in a day."

Takes off like a helicopter, flies like a plane

As companies across the globe work to improve the fuel efficiency of existing planes, AMSL Aero co-founder Siobhan Lyndon said they chose instead to start from scratch.

"There are companies who are retrofitting fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters but this is a clean-sheet design," she said.

Co-founder and chief engineer Andrew Moore took inspiration from another Australian inventor while developing the Vertiia's box-wing design.

a small box wing aircraft hovers just above ground at a regional airstrip

"It's an evolution of the box kite which Lawrence Hargrave invented, and it's one of the oldest, funnily enough," he said.

Lawrence Hargrave was an Australian aeronautical pioneer who experimented with theories of flight to construct different flying machine models in the late 19th century.

"We actually did lots of configuration studies and just happened to come to the same conclusion that Hargrave did, the box-wing works really well."

Historical photo of two men preparing to launch box kites to fly

The Vertiia design uses eight motors pointed vertically for take-off and landing that rotate to a horizontal position when at cruising altitudes up to 10,000 feet, or 3,000 metres.

While other electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) do exist, AMSL Aero hopes to be the first long-range eVTOL to market using hydrogen.

"Nearly all other eVTOL are focused on electric batteries which have a shorter range to serve the urban air mobility market like Manhattan, or that Silicon Valley-to-San Francisco route," Ms Lyndon said.

"Those aircraft will have a 160km range to start with, but we see hydrogen as a game changer for us to allow that longer range of 1,000km non-stop."

60 million drone flights annually by 2043

In October last year, researchers from Swinburne University of Technology completed the first flight of an uncrewed hydrogen fuel cell eVTOL drone in Australia.

By retrofitting existing drones with electric and hydrogen fuel cell systems, the Aerostructures Innovation Research (AIR) Hub team has been able to develop flight data for hydrogen-powered aircraft.

It is an area sorely lacking in data, according to AIR Hub director Adriano di Pietro.

"There is some work happening internationally, but it's usually locked up in a proprietary sense," Dr di Pietro said.

"The other reason we're doing this work is to really drive the use case and demand, to help Aussie companies actually justify doing first development for aviation systems."

Aerial view of people preparing a hydrogen powered drone for its first flight

AMSL Aero is also developing its own uncrewed aircraft after receiving a $3 million grant from the federal government's Cooperative Research Centre program to build a remotely piloted version of Vertiia to be used for aerial firefighting.

"Being remotely piloted, you might use it in ways that are too risky for a pilot today," Mr Moore said.

"It could potentially save people's lives on the ground by getting to those situations where there's a raging fire threatening people."

In March, Airservices Australia announced plans to develop a digital air traffic management system after an analysis projected the growth of drone and uncrewed aircraft would reach 60 million annual flights by 2043 .

"I think what is not talked about a lot is the fact that aviation underpins a lot of industry in Australia that most people aren't aware of," Dr di Pietro said.

"Most of the land area of Australia is serviced by aviation and certainly, there is a big government push at the moment to drive that forward."

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