Starting on Boxing Day there is, of course, the Sydney to Hobart race. with 1000 or so people crewing 94 yachts over the 628 nautical mile blue water classic.
Indicitave of the conditions this race imposes on boats, in the 1998 race, only 44 of the 115 starters made it to Hobart - six competitors died, 24 boats were abandoned or written off and fifty-five sailors were
This year nine yachts competed in the Westcoaster while ten entered the Eastcoaster.
|Stuck Fast at the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage|
Finally, starting at 10 am on December 27, there was the Launceston to Hobart race, with 26 competing yachts, setting out from Beauty Point, around 6 km up-river from the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage in this 285 nautical mile race down Tasmania’s rugged east coast to Hobart.
Having delighted in the spectacle of Sydney Harbour at the start of the Sydney to Hobart, for many years, I was keen to watch the early progress of this race.
At 10:15 I turned my chair the required 45 degrees and waited for this vision splendid to play out.
I waited - I waited - and I waited until, finally, at 11 am the fleet began to slowly 'drift' by with only a four knot breeze and a receeding tide to move them.
It wasn't long before I started to lose a little interest and went back to the computer, a 45 degree turn to the left, looking back occasionally to check their progress.
At 11:30 all but two of the fleet were moving out of my view and I noticed that both were firmly stuck on a mud-bank in the middle of the well-marked river.
I was totally fascinated and watched them for ages as I considered how it could have happened and more importantly, what the crews were doing.
At low tide the two yachts were leaning at around 45 degrees off verticle, leaving me to wonder at whether the crews were standing up or sitting down - in either case I wondered, on what and how? Could they make a cup of coffee? If so, how?
Despite attempts by some small craft to dislodge them, it was not until 4:30 that the incoming tide finally put enough water under them to allow them to float free and continue with the 'race.'
Following this extremely slow start, a ferocious westerly gale at Tasman Island and in Storm Bay, together with some damage and injuries on two boats, has seen the retirement of at least 19 of the 26 starters.
Such is the fickle nature of Tasmania's waters.