Friday, January 15, 2016

Boxing Day in Sydney=Rolex Sydney to Hobart

This is Wild Oats XI - the one that was supposed to win!
However, American owned Comanche took line honors.
Boxing Day! It is a big deal within the Commonwealth, but even bigger here in Sydney with the Start of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race. This annual event is one of the toughest yacht races in the world. And the boats are magnificent! I can't ever calculate the multiple millions of dollars in boats and equipment we were watching!

And it was an exciting start for what is now being call one of the most challenging Sydney to Hobart races in history! Three boats crashed into each other before it even started. How frustrating for the owners! One boat did not follow the rules of right away and caused the whole mess. And probably a lawsuit or two.

It has been fun following the race. The weather was predicted to be wild at the start - and it was - as well as when they got further south. Australia  has these weather systems called "Southerly Busters" that blow in fast and furiously from the south triggering winds of 30-50 knots. It would be similar to our Nor'easters, but with rain instead of snow. And the wind is strong and kick up wild seas.

Brian & Phil watching the "anchoring games!"
Wild Oats was in the lead when the Southerly Buster hit and it ripped its mainsail and took them out of the race. Two American boats were in the lead the rest of the way just edging ahead of an Australian boat that stood a chance to win. All three hit something that destroyed dagger boards and rudders. So they all limped across the line with Americans taking first and third - losing second place by three minutes!

We had a great "ringside" view of the race from S/Y Angela, a yacht owned by new friends from Hobart, Tasmania. Barbara served a lovely lunch of fresh cherries, Asian noodles and a huge bowl of fresh prawns. I am sorry I didn't take a photo of the gorgeous prawns before we devoured them.

We gals (me, Barbara & Sue) had the best seats!
Several of our Down Under Rally boats were anchored in Rose Bay between the entrance to the harbor and the harbor bridge, so they were in a good position to see the boats start, pass by and leave the harbor as they turned south toward Tasmania.
Getting from out hotel at The Rocks near the bridge only took an hour bus ride out to Rose Bay where Brian from S/Y Darramy picked us up in the dinghy. Very nice of him to do so in the rain! We were all going out to the Start Line on S/Y Angela.
The Sydney Opera House as seen from the water.
I can't begin to tell you how many boats were moving in the harbor in addition to the 100+ racers and ferries. Big power boats would rush to drop an anchor to squeeze out smaller boats. The smaller boats would still anchor in tight spaces which ticked off the big guys. We ended up with a good view as we were anchored just inside the zone and all of the big guys who tried to anchor in front of us were moved by the police! The fun really began when boats started dragging anchors and trying to re-anchor! Oh, the joys of boating!
At the end of the day, we caught a ferry at Rose Bay Wharf and headed back to Circular Quay (pronounced "key" as I was corrected by an Aussie). After collecting our duffle bags from the hotel, we were off on the bus to Pittwater/Newport. All was well until we realized we had no way to get from the land to our boat! Opps, not the ending we were hoping for after three wonderful days in Sydney.

and under Harbour Bridge.
Public transportation in the Sydney and Newcastle areas is efficient and affordable. However, the water taxi is a different story! Since there was no one around on the water when we arrived at the Newport Wharf and the marina office was closed so Rod wasn't available to give us a lift back, we were stranded. We called the two nearby yacht clubs hoping for some help, but got no offers to assist us. After several attempts to get through to the water taxi company, we finally order a taxi.

The good news was that he would come in the rain in about 20 minutes. The bad news was that it will cost $92! That is right: $92! Just to go 400 feet, but the only alternative was to swim out to the mooring ball with our luggage. NOT! That ride cost more than all of our bus and ferry rides for the past three days combined! We will have to make different arrangement when we go to Sydney for New Year's Eve weekend.
This is the view to the right side of the Opera House from
our hotel roof on George Street near the Harbour Bridge.
A great view from our room at The Rocks in Sydney.
Before we left Sydney, we mad a visit to the roof of our hotel from which we will be watching the New Year's Eve fireworks over Sydney Harbour. What a spectacular view: the bridge to our left and the Opera House to our right. It will be great fun and an experience to remember. And we will wave to you! Can't wait to get back there for NYE! Happy New Year!

The Sydney Harbour Bridge at night from our hotel.
This will be a great view of the fireworks on NYE!

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