Sydney Expert

Best Places to Watch the Sydney to Hobart Race

Are you looking for the best place to watch the Sydney to Hobart race? I have three favourite ways to see all the action unfold that I would like to share with you, so let’s go… 

Over the years, watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart has become a Sydney holiday tradition. Thankfully, the race has a lunchtime start, so there is no need to crawl out of bed at dawn to be part of the action.

Updated: 14 December 2023

What is the Sydney to Hobart?

What time does the sydney to hobart race start, where does the race actually start, up close in the middle of the action on a harbour cruise, boxing day lunch cruise, boxing day byo picnic cruise, boxing day race to bondi cruise, from the north – mosman and middle head, from the south – the gap and south head.

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Every Boxing day since 1945, (other than 2020 because of Covid) Sydney Harbour has hosted the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. An arduous journey of 628 nautical miles south to Constitution Dock in Hobart. These yachts, from small vessels to super maxis, make an impressive sight as they leave the harbour and add the spectator craft, and it feels like a party out there.

Racing Sailboat with Crew on Ocean

The race attracts sailors with a variety of experience from weekend warriors to professionals. This year sees 120 boats registered , including 9 international boats.

Not being much of a sailor I had been content to watch it on TV for years however about 5 years ago I had a cousin visiting from Canada, and she was keen to see the race up close, so I was finally convinced to leave the comfort of the sofa and check it out. Even for a non-sailing enthusiast, it was damn impressive. I can see why it’s a favourite way to spend Boxing Day.

Some race basics

The starter’s gun will sound at 1 pm with a warning shot ten minutes earlier. However, boats will start getting into a position from much earlier, and the harbour is a pretty incredible site with all the competitors and spectator vessels filling this usually spacious waterway.

The official starting line is just off Nielsen Park, making this one of the most popular spots on the eastern shore to watch the action. Read more about how they manage the start of the race on the official Sydney to Hobart website.

sydney to hobart yacht race watch live

Where are the best places to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart race 

That’s a good question and one with more than one correct answer, here are my three favourites.

I don’t think you can go past watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart from the water. Being out amongst the action as the boats head down the harbour and out of the heads is fantastic. You can see the sailors working furiously to get into position for the start and see all the little boats jostle for the best spots.

Tip : It can feel a bit more choppy with all the boats moving about, so if you are partial to seasickness, it might be an idea to grab some tablets.

Lots of boats on offer with a variety of price points and luxury. Some of my favourites are:

Captain Cook Gold Cruise seating

Captain Cook Cruises

One of the premium operators on the harbour Captain Cook will have three vessels out to get amount the Boxing Day action this year.

You can choose from the 3 hour BYO picnic cruise (on board bar), the popular lunch cruise and a special cruise that will travel outside the heads to Bondi!

The MV Sydney 2000 is a great ship with a full roof deck for the best views and commentary and TV coverage inside the boat to keep up to date with all the action.

One of the main reasons I like this cruise is the amount of space on the outdoor decks and the huge picture windows that are a feature of the boat.

Captain Cook Boxing Day Cruise view

They also have a fantastic spot to anchor at Parsley Bay between Watsons Bay and Nielson Park, which sees them perfectly positioned to watch the vessels race to the Heads.

Seating is at individual tables, and the huge windows mean everyone can see. Window seating is available too. This year they are offering two dining options across the ship’s three decks.

  • Sky Deck – which is a 5-course premium menu with a beverage package that includes house spirits, superior wines, beers & soft drinks.
  • Club Deck – a 3 course menu with a beverage package of superior house wines, beers & soft drinks.
  • Ocean Deck – Shared platters, reserved seating and a welcome drink included – Sold out!

sydney to hobart yacht race watch live

All levels have access to the outdoor open star deck

The Cruise departs 10.30am Darling Harbour, King St Wharf and returns at approx 3pm.

Board the John Cadman and make your way to the eastern corner of the harbour, dropping anchor at noon near Parsley Bay to watch the fleet make their way out of the heads.

The race begins at 1pm and the ship will stay put until 2pm when it will spend the next hour on a relaxed cruise returning to the wharf at 3pm.

sydney to hobart yacht race watch live

Got the stomach for the open seas? Follow the action and the fleet out of the heads and down to Bondi on one of the Red Rocket Catamarans.

sydney to hobart yacht race watch live

This 2.5-hour cruise is BYO everything , including drinks. There is indoor and outdoor seating and free wifi on board.

Vagabond’s MV Spirit

3 hour Boxing Day sail will be out on the water near the starting line for the big race. Along with great views of the Sydney to Hobart race, the captain will provide live race commentary. The price includes a 3-course seafood and carvery set menu. Beverages may be purchased on board. The cruise departs from Circular Quay at 11:30am and return approx 2:30pm.

The 2021 race celebrated 75 years of women in the race with excellent representation across the fleet

A harbourside picnic is a great way to use up some of the Christmas day leftovers and relax at the same time. Depending on how energetic you feel, you could combine a bit of a bushwalk to reach your chosen picnic spot.

Watching the Sydney to Hobart race from the shoreline at Mosman

One of my favourites is Georges Heights Lookout at Mosman. If Christmas festivities have you worn out, you might want to make the trip by bus otherwise you can easily walk from Taronga Wharf. Parking is at a premium so leave the car behind if you can.

Where: Georges Heights lookout along the Taronga to Balmoral Beach walk When: Front row positions fill quickly I suggest being in your spot by noon. How:  M30 or 178 buses from Wynyard Wheel-friendly: not really, prams with plenty of lifting may be possible Dog-friendly : No

Related: Check out more great picnic spots here

Many suggest that the trek up to the lighthouse is THE best Sydney to Hobart view. You can watch the yachts race up the harbour and view them as they move out of the heads and along the coast.

Sydney to Hobart Field leaving the Sydney Harbour

It certainly is popular here, so pack your picnic basket and nab your position early. I would say by 10 am to be safe. If you are coming from Circular Quay ferries will stop running at about 11.40am and start again at about 1.45pm. Do not attempt to drive here. There is no parking by just after sunrise!

With three great dining options, Watson’s bay is also my favourite choice if you prefer not to pack a picnic. Choose from a fish and chip take away from the wharf, a pub lunch from the Watson’s Bay hotel or fine dining at Doyle’s on the beachfront. All will be busy and require patience 🙂

Where:   Hornby Lighthouse  When:  Early – say 10 am to allow time to grab something to eat and walk up to the lighthouse  How: Early ferry from Circular Quay (they have stopped by 11 am in previous years) or bus 324, 325 or 380  from either Circular Quay or Edgecliff stations. Parking here is terrible on a good day, so try to avoid bringing your car if you can.  Cost: Meals from $10 takeaway to $$$ at Doyles

Looking for somewhere to stay near all the action? Check out the Watson’s Bay Hotel or Hotel Bondi

Where do you think is the best place to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race? Do you have any insider tips to share?

Have questions about things to see and do in Sydney? Head over and join our Facebook Group and we will be happy to help

5 thoughts on “Best Places to Watch the Sydney to Hobart Race”

Living near San Diego harbor I know how thrilling a big race can be. Love the different choices you’ve outlined and wish I were going to be there to cheer the race on.

Wow, it must be some sight to see all the yachts making their way from the start. I’d love to take part, but I know that conditions can be really hairy on the Sydney-Hobart, so watching from the clifftops might be the best place to be.

Looks like a really fun event! Have never been to Sydney but we will be there in 2016 for a few months. Will try to catch this if possible, thanks for the tips on best places to watch it from!

The Sydney to Hobart race seems amazing. When I visited Sydney earlier this year, I remember seeing all of the stunning boats. I can barely imagine how exciting this will be.

Best place I watched it from was Sydney Tower. I became the unofficial commentator to all those around me and much cheaper than going by boat

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Sydney to Hobart yacht race — how to watch and what to look for

Large sailboat with other watercraft in pursuit as seen from overhead.

Since its beginning in 1945, the Sydney to Hobart yacht race has become one of the pinnacles for sailing competitors, with the event being a test of skill, teamwork, nautical engineering and tactics — with weather providing the wild card.

If you know what to look for, the race can be an enjoyable experience.

Here are some tips for getting the best out of it.

The fleet leaves Sydney Harbour following the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

When does it start?

About 111 boats ranging from the supermaxis (longer than 20 metres) to smaller 30-footers (9 metres) will be ready to go at 1pm AEDT Boxing Day on Sydney Harbour.

The start is arguably one of the greatest spectacles in modern sport.

Once the starting cannon is fired, all teams will be gunning for The Heads and into the open water of the South Pacific, with competitors surrounded by all manner of craft.

Watch as boats come perilously close to the supermaxis.

The fleet then begins to make its way down the east coast of Australia to Hobart, a distance of approximately 630 nautical miles (1,166 kilometres).

Two men in rain coats sit behind a yacht steering wheel

What are they racing for?

It isn't money. Yes, you read that correctly — there is no prize money for the winners. 

Instead, they race for trophies in a number of categories , the main events for casual observers being Line Honours and Overall.

The first yacht across the line wins the JH Illingworth Trophy, but the overall winner on handicap wins the Tattersalls Cup.

The overall victory is considered the major prize for sailors and a testament to skill and tactics.

Most of the time, handicap honours are won by a smaller, slower boat, which outdoes its larger opposition when time is adjusted for size and other factors.

The reigning overall winner is Ichi Ban. It finished in 4 days, 10 hours, and 17 minutes.

This was after a protest against Celestial was upheld. Celestial was handed a 40-minute time penalty for not manning their radio for a 90-minute period, during which officials were trying to contact the team.

The reigning line honours winner is Black Jack, winning in two days, 12 hours, and 37 minutes in 2021. 

How can I watch it?

Race sponsor Rolex says the race can be watched on the Seven Network. 

7Mate will broadcast the start of the race live around Australia. Their coverage starts at 12:30pm (AEDT).

ABC TV will also provide updates throughout the event.

For those who can't watch the live broadcast of the start of the race on their TV, Seven will have a stream of the race.

You can also watch vision from the event on the Sydney to Hobart yacht race website .

1955 Sydney to Hobart race start

If you are in Sydney and on the water, spectators who wish to watch the start but not follow the fleet are advised to stick to the "western side of the harbour".

Good vantage points for spectator boats include "Taylors Bay, Chowder Bay, Obelisk Bay and North Head on the west and Rose Bay, Watsons Bay, Camp Cove and South Head to the east".

According to organisers, the harbour will be "very crowded and traffic can be chaotic, so stay alert, follow the advice of race officials and remember to keep well clear of the exclusion zone between 12pm and 2pm".

How can I follow the boats online?

You can follow the race on an online tracker , which shows the positions of yachts as they move south.

The locations of yachts are transmitted by a GPS device on each vessel. 

As the race goes on, you can see the course charted by crews — unless of course the boat's GPS device gets switched off, rendering it invisible to spectators and other competitors — an accusation that was levelled at Wild Oats XI in 2018 by the owner of Black Jack.

Sydney to Hobart yacht race tracker.

What should I look out for?

The weather forecast is for northerly winds in the harbour for Monday's start, which will favour the bigger boats. They will push hard to get out of the harbour.

Barring disaster, the Line Honours winner will almost certainly be one of the four super maxis.

LawConnect (formerly Perpetual LOYAL, formerly Investec LOYAL, formerly InfoTrack) set a new record in 2016 when it crossed the line in one day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 12 seconds, a time since bettered by Comanche the next year.

Black Jack (Formerly Alfa Romeo II) has a strong Sydney to Hobart history and is the reigning Line Honours champion. It's had a strong 2022 already, taking line, record, and overall wins in the Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race. Black Jack has a strong rivalry with Wild Oats XI as it was the first boat to break Wild Oats' race record in 2009.

Comanche takes the lead in the Sydney to Hobart on day one

Andoo Comanche is the hot favourite for line honours this year. It has already defeated Black Jack in the Sydney to Gold Coast race this year and has won the inaugural Tollgate Islands race. It beat Wild Oats for line honours in 2017, setting a race record in the process, but only after a controversial protest . 

Hamilton Island Wild Oats XI is the most famous boat in the race but has not participated since 2019 due to COVID. Veteran skipper Mark Richards will once again be at the helm and will be hoping to improve on the 3rd place finish in 2019. 

The favourites for the handicap trophy are Alive, URM Group, Moneypenny and Stefan Racing, with last year's winner, Ichi Ban, not participating.

This year there is also a number of crews made up of father-daughter or father-son teams.

Yacht at sea.

The yacht race is taken seriously for good reason — people have died when the weather has turned bad.

In 1998, six sailors died, five yachts sank, more than 60 yachts retired and 55 sailors had to be rescued by helicopter.

In 2015, a squall hit the fleet off the News South Wales coast, ending the race for 29 competitors.

A large yacht sails at night.

When does the race finish?

The lines honours winner is likely to come in around 48 hours after the start, but this is very much dependent on the weather —  especially in the 22.2-kilometre final stretch up the Derwent River.

This is when the wind can drop away and it becomes an agonisingly slow crawl , with every trick in the book pulled out to speed the progress up the glassy waterway.

In 2021, Black Jack crossed the line at 1:37am on December 29, followed by LawConnect at 4:11am and SHK Scallywag about 20 minutes after that.

In 2019, Comanche came in at a more reasonable time of 7:30am on December 28, with InfoTrack about 45 minutes later.

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Canstar Blue

How to Watch the 2021 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

Posted by Tom Fleming 17/12/2021

It’s time to take to the high seas, as the passage from Sydney to Hobart once again becomes a place of competition for the annual yacht race. With its previous years’ instalment cancelled due to COVID, 2021 will be the bounce-back year for Australia’s most decorated race on water, but how can you watch the action unfold? Read on with Canstar Blue to find out how you can watch the 2021 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

How to watch the 2021 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in Australia

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 2021 Logo

Fans of the open water can catch the 2021 Sydney to Hobart race through 7Mate, with coverage live on the free-to-air channel.

Watch the 2021 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race on 7Mate

The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is available to watch live on 7Mate, with the free-to-air channel the sole live broadcaster of the event.

When is the 2021 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race?

The 2021 Sydney to Hobart race begins on December 26, 2021, and will finish on January 1, 2022. The race will begin at 12pm (AEST) on December 26.

How long is the Sydney to Hobart course?

The Sydney to Hobart stretch is 630 nautical miles, which equates to just under 1,200 kilometres. As the title of the race suggests, the course starts at Sydney, and ends with a circumnavigation of the coast of Tasmania. The fastest completion of the course was undertaken in 2017, when LDV Comanche crossed the line in just one day and nine hours.

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Photo Credits: PomInOz/shutterstock.com

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Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

sydney to hobart yacht race watch live

How to follow the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

  • 19 Dec, 2022 01:24:00 PM

How to follow the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

From wherever in the world you are following the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, we’re bringing you closer than ever to the action on our broadcast and digital channels.

The race begins at 1pm local time (AEDT) on Monday 26 December 2022.

Australian viewers can watch the live broadcast of the race start from 12.30pm on the Seven Network or on the 7plus app . 

International viewers can watch along on the Rolex Sydney Hobart home page or CYCA TV YouTube channel . 

For spectators lucky enough to be in Sydney on Boxing Day, there are some superb vantage points to watch the fleet race out of Sydney Harbour. Nielsen Park is one of the most popular spots for onlookers.

If you have a boat or other vessel and plan to be on the water, note an exclusion zone is in place around the race track on the Harbour. 

DURING THE RACE

Keep up to date with the progress of the race on the official race website: 

  • Live tracker

Join us for LIVE updates at 9am and 4pm (AEDT) daily from 27-31 December on the home page, CYCA TV YouTube channel  and Rolex Sydney Hobart Facebook page . 

Gordon Bray, Peter Gee and Peter Shipway will be presenting live from the studio in the Hobart Race Village and on Kings Pier Marina, giving you updates from the tracker, as well as race action and interviews with competitors. 

Tune into a LIVE stream of the Line Honours finish as the race for the John H Illingworth Challenge Cup heats up on the Derwent. 

We'll also have live streams of other action across the fleet.

AFTER THE RACE

The Rolex Sydney Hobart website is your go-to for all reaction from the race, including highlights, interviews, the official prizegiving ceremony and divisional results. 

IN THE HOBART RACE VILLAGE

If you're in Hobart from 27 December - 1 January, head down to the Hobart Race Village.

Find out what's on during the week, including live music, activities for kids and delicious food and drink options. 

Congratulations to all the divisional winners of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2023

Congratulations to all the divisional winners of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2023

PHOTOS | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Official Prizegiving

PHOTOS | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Official Prizegiving

PHOTOS | Day 5 Morning - Tasman Island and Storm Bay

PHOTOS | Day 5 Morning - Tasman Island and Storm Bay

PHOTOS | Day 5 and Day 6 finishers

PHOTOS | Day 5 and Day 6 finishers

PHOTOS | Official Presentation of Tattersall Cup and Rolex Timepiece to the Overall Winner

PHOTOS | Official Presentation of Tattersall Cup and Rolex Timepiece to the Overall Winner

2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - A Race for the Ages

2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - A Race for the Ages

VIDEO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Rolex Daily Video Summary

VIDEO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Rolex Daily Video Summary

VIDEO | Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2023

VIDEO | Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2023

VIDEO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Official Prizegiving

VIDEO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Official Prizegiving

VIDEO | Race Update - 31 December Morning

VIDEO | Race Update - 31 December Morning

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 10

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 10

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 9

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 9

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 8

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 8

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 7

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 7

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 6

AUDIO | 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Sked 6

Official rolex sydney hobart merchandise.

Shop the official clothing range of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in person at the Club in New South Head Road, Darling Point or online below.  

From casual to technical clothing, there is something for all occasions. Be quick as stock is limited!

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COMMENTS

  1. How to watch the Sydney to Hobart yacht race — and what to ...

    Race sponsor Rolex says the start will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and live and on demand on the 7Plus app. Internationally, the race will be available through YouTube on the CYCATV channel or via Rolex Sydney Hobart's Facebook page.

  2. 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race | Start - Live broadcast

    Watch the live broadcast of the start to the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

  3. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

    We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you live coverage from the finish of the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. We now take you to Hobart, Tasmania, where two of the race’s 100-foot supermaxis are ghosting toward the finish line, with underdogs LawConnect closing in on pre-race favorite, AndooComanche.

  4. Best Places to Watch the Sydney to Hobart Race

    From the South – The Gap and South Head. Many suggest that the trek up to the lighthouse is THE best Sydney to Hobart view. You can watch the yachts race up the harbour and view them as they move out of the heads and along the coast. South Head from the Harbour.

  5. Sydney to Hobart yacht race — how to watch and what to look ...

    The Seven Network, through 7Mate, will broadcast the start of the race live around Australia. Their coverage starts at 12:30pm (AEDT). ABC TV will also be following the fleet down the eastern seaboard and provide all the in-race news footage that is used by the various Australian and International news networks.

  6. Why you should watch the Sydney to Hobart yacht race

    How can I watch it? Race sponsor Rolex says the race can be watched on the Seven Network. 7Mate will broadcast the start of the race live around Australia. Their coverage starts at 12:30pm (AEDT).

  7. Watch 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Online: Free ...

    Watch, Stream & Catch Up with your favourite 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race episodes on 7plus. Enjoy one of the sporting calendar's most thrilling moments as the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starts on Sydney Harbour, when this year's field of entrants will jostle to be first out of the Heads.

  8. Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 2023: Live updates, results ...

    8.52am Watch LIVE: Sydney to Hobart winners press conference; 8.05am LawConnect wins line honours in Sydney to Hobart; 8.00am Watch: Sydney to Hobart finish; 7.55am LawConnect takes the lead

  9. How to Watch the 2021 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

    The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is available to watch live on 7Mate, with the free-to-air channel the sole live broadcaster of the event. When is the 2021 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race? The 2021 Sydney to Hobart race begins on December 26, 2021, and will finish on January 1, 2022.

  10. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

    Australian viewers can watch the live broadcast of the race start from 12.30pm on the Seven Network or on the 7plus app. International viewers can watch along on the Rolex Sydney Hobart home page or CYCA TV YouTube channel.