Sydney’s Sailing Spectator Showcase

For those who say that sailing isn’t a spectator sport, the weather in Sydney Australia came to the party for the spectacular SOLAS Big Boat Challenge. Some of the largest, fastest yachts warmed up for the Sydney Hobart Race, with Wild Oats XI leading them home past the Opera House.

Stephen Ainsworth’s brand new Reichel/Pugh 63 Loki, captured the handicap first place, a remarkable result for a boat that has only been in the water since last Thursday.

According to numbers presented by Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, at the World Yacht Racing Forum last week, Australia is one of only three countries where Sailing features as a top ten sport.

This may be in part to races like the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge – with news helicopters buzzing and ferries passing through the fleet – the technologically advanced boats with ‘Rock-star’ crews remind us what it is all about.

The organisers of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), are also embracing new technology and giving those not lucky enough to be in Sydney on Boxing Day, a chance to watch 90 minutes of the start of the race.

The Seven Network and Yahoo!7, will provide a live 90 minute webcast of the start of the 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race to a global audience.

With spectator numbers on Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Harbour foreshore expected to reach around 500,000 people, together with Seven Network’s Australia wide television audience of 500,000 viewers, and the addition of Yahoo!7’s national and international audience reach, it is predicted that the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be one of the most viewed sporting events in the world in the month of December.

CYCA Commodore Matt Allen today announced,

“I am delighted to announce this wonderful initiative and a first for the sport of yachting through our broadcaster Seven Network in which we have extended the rights for the start of the 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht race to incorporate a live webcast on Yahoo!7. This enables a truly global audience to view the race start – and with the large number of international entrants in this year’s race, this will generate an even greater worldwide interest to one of the world’s most iconic ocean races.” –

To see all the colour and action of the start of the 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race tune into the Seven Network or the official race website and follow the links to from 12.30pm AEST on 26 December 2008.