The Sydney to Hobart race started with very challenging conditions. Racing out of Sydney harbour under spinnaker ended with a very quick change to deeply reefed main and storm sails as the wind increased to over 50 knots. Some competitors were not so lucky and some, not the Clipper yachts, sustained ripped main sails, dis-masting and other damage which had them retiring on the first day. Andrew’s blog of the events leading up to the start and the sailing under the Sydney harbour bridge gives a telling account how high profile the Rolext Syndey – Hobart Yacht Race is in the sailing world.
By the second day 32 yachts of the 109 retired from the race, making it the toughest on record since 2004. Then on the 30th December after four days of racing Wendy ‘Wendo’ Tuck became the first female Australian Skipper in the history of the Clipper Race to clinch first place in the Clipper 70 class of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Well done skipper Wendy and crew of Da Nang – Vietnam!!
This week I toured the Blue Mountains National Park, a 900 meter high plateau with deep valleys covered in dense jungle and eucalyptus trees. The eucalyptus trees are high in oil which produces a blue haze above the trees hence the name “Blue Mountains”.
On Wednesday the preparations for the New Year celebrations in Sydney were already in full swing. Fireworks were attached to the bridge, in total 7,000 kg of fireworks on barges, buildings and the bridge; about 7 million Aus $ worth. Many places are ticketed but because of the geography of Sydney there are plenty of places to watch the spectacle.
A number of day walking trips through Sydney has kept me going and fit this week. Walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, not over which you can also do which takes 3 hours. I took the short cut by walking the pedestrian lane. Cookatoo Island, where many of the Australian Navy ships were build during the first and second world wars, the Australian National Maritime Museum, Botanic Gardens, Opera House, China Town, the Chinese Garden of Friendship, etc. There is plenty to keep you going for a long, long time in Sydney.
Of course the highlight of this week was the end of year fireworks on and around the Sydney Harbour bridge. It was reported that one million people would gather on the waterfront on both sides of the harbour. Cookatoo Island which has a direct view onto the bridge was converted into a camping side with tiny allocated spaces to pitch your tent. Nobody could leave the island until later on New Year’s Day as all ferry service were suspended. The fireworks are indeed impressive and it easy to understand why people travel from all over the world the see the event. There is strong competition for viewing spots with clear views over the water and there was a good party atmosphere everywhere.
Next week I will be picking up my passport from the Chines Visa Centre and another campervan to travel to Brisbane for the weekend and then onto Airlie Beach for Wednesday 13th January. Let’s hope my luggage can keep up with me as it has still not arrived. It’s now more than month late!