Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Sydney to Hobart

yacht race is one of those mad and perhaps peculiarly Downunder  things that I suspect most yachtsmen want to do at some time. It is probably a bit like climbing certain mountains if you are a mountaineer or playing on certain golf courses if you are a golfer. It's probably on the "bucket list" of such people. To win it is probably rather like climbing Mt Everest - and getting down safely.
The idea terrifies me.
I love the sea. I love to watch it. Unfortunately I also get sea sick - I get sea sick very quickly. Watching the reporter on one of those yachts last night made me feel a little odd.
The water was already getting rough and they were barely out of the Sydney Heads - the narrow entrance into Sydney Harbour. Some of those boats might be "maxi-yachts" but they are small when you look at them in relation to the vast stretch of ocean beyond.  
The Sydney to Hobart race is generally considered to be one of the most difficult in the world - if not the most difficult. It starts on Boxing Day and people often think that, in summer, the waters off the east coast of Australia and  across the Bass Strait should be relatively calm. They aren't. There is often very bad weather indeed. 
When the race started in 1945 they didn't have the safety equipment or monitoring devices they have now. Even with those lives can be lost. By no means all the boats that start the course will finish it. This year one of the favourites is already out of the race - and that is a boat which has won the race many times. It's tough  on the boats as well as the crew.
But there have been some remarkable achievements. The first race took more than six days to complete. Now at least one boat and crew has done it in under forty hours. In 2011 Jessica Watson, who sailed around the world alone at 16, skippered a crew of all women - something nobody would have thought of in 1945.
The race isn't over as I write this. Anything could happen as they move across Bass Strait and down the east coast of Tasmania. I don't in the least care who wins. I just hope everyone makes it there safely.
And I wonder at the parents of the two eleven year old girls who are going to take part in the shorter race from Launceston to Hobart. It's a little safer perhaps but only a little.
The sea is wild and unforgiving. It's also magnificent and I suppose  it is "in my blood" because of my ancestry. 
I just wish I didn't get seasick. 


jeanfromcornwall said...

Sympathy for the seasickness! My late Mum-in-law could get queasy watching waves on television so I know that it is real. Amazingly, her daughter was once able to get her to France - by taking her on a hovercraft (fast) on a very calm day. She had boasting rights for the rest of her life.

catdownunder said...

I can get queasy watching them that way too - and I hate heights as well!