Advice to boaters ahead of Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

17 December 2014

Roads and Maritime Services advises boaters to plan their trip on Sydney Harbour well in advance of the 1pm start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race this Boxing Day.

Roads and Maritime Director Maritime Angus Mitchell said Australia’s best known annual yacht race draws around 2000 spectator boats to key vantage points around Sydney Harbour.

“The port of Sydney will be closed from 9am to 4pm on Boxing Day to allow the yachts to safely exit the harbour and a marked exclusion zone will be effective from 12pm until 2.20pm,” Mr Mitchell said.

“The fleet of up to 120 yachts will set off at 1pm from three start lines off Nielsen Park.

“Boats on the northern line will race to Victor Mark and boats on the southern lines to X-Ray Mark at Sydney Heads, before heading out to sea and rounding either Yankee or Zulu marks, one nautical mile east of the heads.

“The biggest boats will start off the front line north of Shark Island. Having two sets of rounding marks at Sydney Heads will compensate for the distance between the start lines as the fleet move out to sea and then south to Hobart.

“Spectator boats in the eastern channel can watch the race start and follow the fleet down the harbour to the heads and out to sea. To watch the fleet sail through the heads, it is advisable to move well down the harbour, towards Watsons Bay and South Head, before the starting cannon fires.

“On water spectators who intend to watch the race start but not follow the fleet after the start should position themselves on the western side of the Harbour.

“All operators of spectator boats should stay well clear of the exclusion zone from Bradleys Head to Middle Head and North Head and from just north of Shark Island to South Head between midday and 2.20pm.  Skippers should observe the six knot speed limit and ensure they are producing minimal wash and follow the advice of officials on the water.

“Spectator craft should not operate under sail near the exclusion zone from midday until the race fleet clears Sydney Heads. Non-powered craft such as kayaks, canoes and surfboats should remain at least100 metres from the exclusion zone for safety reasons.

“Roads and Maritime Services will coordinate about 50 water traffic control vessels on the day and support craft authorised to be inside the exclusion zone will display a special flag in a prominent position.

“As well as reminding all water users about the importance of navigating safely during one of the busiest times on Sydney Harbour, it is timely to remind everyone heading out on the water to have a lifejacket and know when to wear it.”

Mr Mitchell said the best on-water vantage points are either side of the start line at Steele Point or Taylors Bay.

Boaters can position themselves in the western channel at Chowder Bay, Obelisk Bay and waters to North Head or in the eastern channel, Watsons Bay, Camp Cove and around South Head.

To view the race start on land, the best vantage points are Bradleys Head, Chowder Bay, Georges Heights and Middle Head on the west, Shark Island, Steele Point, Vaucluse Point, South Head and The Gap on the east, and North Head in the north.

For more information and a detailed map showing the navigation restrictions on Sydney Harbour for Boxing Day and safety requirements including lifejackets visit the Maritime pages and

High resolution maps of the major events this summer on Sydney Harbour are available on Flickr.

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