Melbourne’s Christmas yacht races draw huge fleets, with Cock of the Bay attracting more than 100 entries despite the Covid-19 restrictions.
With the cancellation of the Sydney to Habart race the Melbourne Devonport Race is now Australia’s only interstate yacht race to be held over the Christmas period.
On Sunday December 27, 22 yachts will set sail from Portsea on the 195nm dash across Bass Strait to Devonport, competing for the Rudder Cup, a magnificent trophy first presented in 1907.
This makes it Australia’s oldest ocean race and the fifth oldest organised ocean yacht race in the world, predating the Fastnet by nearly 20 years and the Sydney to Hobart race by nearly four decades.
Before that a record fleet of 106 yachts will face the Cock of the Bay starter at Port Melbourne on Boxing Day before racing 22nm to Mornington.
The course takes them along the north-eastern shoreline of Port Phillip to Sandringham, providing a spectacle for cyclists, walkers and beach-goers, before heading across the Bay to the finish line.
However, ongoing bans on large gatherings mean that a big barbecue is not possible, causing the ORCV to shorten the course so that crews have time to sail back to their own clubs in Melbourne for onboard twilight celebrations.
Yachts will be competing in four broad divisions, with a range of handicap options in each division.