The Sydney Side: Sailing Sydney Harbour

sailing, Sydney

I’ve recruited a guest blogger/photographer for this month’s The Sydney Side series post.  I’ve wanted to share some of Partner-in-Crime’s images from his sailing adventures on Sydney Harbour for some time, and thankfully, he also agreed to write a bit about our beloved harbour. Thank you, Captain P-i-C.

s14My partner in high crimes (and other less noteworthy misdemeanors) suggested I quill a small missive about sailing in Sydney Harbour. One can hardly take umbrage to her request, as this is one of the most spectacular sailing harbors on the planet. It is also big enough for large world-class sailboats and safe enough for lasers and skiffs and anything in between.

On a regular day the harbor is swarming with nautical activity. Tankers, large cruising ships going to distant shores, smaller modern and antique tourist ships, navy frigates, hydroplanes and even submarines are all making an appearance in this busy working harbor.  Nevertheless, Sydney Harbour’s most well known vessels are its trademark green-and-yellow ferries which transport Sydneysiders with great efficiency and speed, all the way to Manly and Parramatta. The ferries are named after the first fleet of eleven ships which left Great Britain for Australia in May of 1787 and arrived in Sydney Harbor on the 26th day of January 1788, with a view of forming a penal colony. For the sake of historical accuracy it is important to note that only HMS Supply made it out of Botany Bay and reached Sydney cove that momentous afternoon, allowing Captain Phillips and his scurvy lot to disembark, row ashore, and thus take possession of this vast continent. This took place in what is now known as Circular Quay, a ferry terminal and to this day the main hub of maritime action in the harbour.

Captain Phillips with HMS Supply in the background. (Source)

Captain Phillips with HMS Supply in the background. (Source)

On weekends and late afternoons, the harbour becomes even lovelier with the addition of sailing vessels of every variety. The sheer beauty of numerous monohulls scudding effortlessly through the harbour, with large white sails and colorful spinnakers at Dusk, makes one feel as if entering a dreamscape. There are giant race-boats preparing  for world class regattas, as well as large luxury yachts owned by the Murdoch family and other “tall poppies”, heeling elegantly in brisk breeze. My favorite are hydrofoil sailboats of the International Moth class, which can achieve speed of up to 30 knots (in case you are wondering, that’s a lot of knots).

One of the biggest events of the year and one of the preeminent world sailing events is the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, which traditionally transpires on Boxing Day. Thousands of spectators, boats, helicopters and the media descend upon the harbor to follow the race boats as they tack towards the Heads, dramatically exit the harbor, and resume the grueling contest over the horizon in Tasman Sea. 

Your humble guest blogger has frequented many racing events sponsored by several sailing clubs over the years and has collected many photographs to prove it. Below is a small collection which shows the beauty of this harbour and the boats and crew lucky enough to consider it their home port.

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