The Sydney to Hobart yacht race is held every year, commencing on Boxing Day (December 26).
Race distance is 628 nautical miles with one of the challenges being the often unpredictable weather, particularly in Bass Strait.
The 1998 race was the most disastrous in race history, when 6 sailors died and 5 yachts were abandoned at sea. 115 yachts started the race in Sydney Harbour – only 44 completed the race.
Race rules and crewing requirements have been significantly tightened since that fateful race. Thankfully the communications procedures have also improved, as during the 1998 race the radio oprators on the radio relay vessel were overwhelmed with the number of vessels in distress and did not manage the volumes and severity of radio traffic requests well.
All competitor boats must have their radio communications equipment inspected, including their Emergency Positition Indicator Beacon (EPIRB). They must also have personnel that possess a Marine Radio Operators Certificate of Proficiency (MROCP) or higher.
Communications general information
All boats must be capable of transmitting and receiving on at least the following frequencies:
Very High Frequency (VHF) – FM
Channel 16 – 156.800 MHz – distress, urgency, safety and calling
Channel 21 – 161.650 MHz – repeater output frequency (RX). Transmit 157.050 MHz. Bureau of Meteorology weather. Boat movements, safety of boats and people.
Channel 81 – 161.675 MHz – repeater output frequency (RX). Transmit 157.075 MHz Bureau of Meteorology weather. Boat movements, safety of boats and people.
High frequency (HF) – Upper Side Band (USB)
Primary frequency 4483 KHz (USB) – continuous listening watch each day.
6516 KHz (USB) – secondary HF frequency to be used as directed by radio relay vessel “JBW”.
NSW and Victoria forecasts – USB
Scheduled broadcasts on 4426, 8176, 12365 and 16546 Khz at 1030,1430 and 1830 local time.
Scheduled broadcasts on 2201, 6507, 8176 and 12365 KHz at 0230, 0630 and 2230 local time.
Tasmania forecasts – USB
Scheduled broadcasts on 4426, 8176, 12365 and 16546 KHz at 1130 and 1530 local time.
Scheduled broadcasts on 2201, 6507, 8176 and 12365 KHz at 0330, 0730, 1930, 2330 local time.
Western Port Safety Council (Bass Strait) forecasts – USB
Scheduled broadcasts on 2524 KHz at 0815, 1215, 1710 local time.
Tasmania Maritime Radio – USB
Scheduled broadcasts on 2524, 4146 and 6227 KHz at 0745, 1345, 1633, 1903 local time.
A radio relay vessel named “JBW” maintains communications with race boats, conducts the scheduled radio schedules for boat position reporting and maintains a safety and distress listening watch on race marine channels.
“JBW” maintains a continuous listening watch on VHF Channel 16 and 4483 KHz.
Daily position reports (local time) – USB
1935 hours – 4483 KHz December 26 – sked in two parts with first group commencing at 1935 hours and the second group at 2035 hours local.
0635 hours – 4483 KHz – December 27 and every day of the race – sked in two parts with first group commencing at 0635 hours and the second group at 0735 hours local.
1935 hours – 4483 KHz – December 27 and every day of the race – sked in two parts with first group commencing at 1935 hours and the second group at 2035 hours local.
6516 KHz is considered to be a secondary race frequency and will be used as directed by the radio relay vessel “JBW”.
I DON’T HAVE A HF RADIO………
If you don’t have a traditional HF radio capable of listening to race information, then why not use your PC to access one of many Software Defined Radio (SDR) receivers scattered around Australia?
A list of world wide SDR receivers can be found at https://sdr.hu/?top=kiwi
The list is random however you can sort by location by putting AUSTRALIA into the “search receiver” window and clicking the magnifying glass icon on the right hand side of the window.
This will sort the list putting Australian SDR stations at the top of the list.
Following is a list of Australian SDR receivers that may provide good reception of race transmissions:
Canberra – http://kiwisdrvk1cm.ddns.net:8073
Victoria – http://sdr-amradioantennas.com:8073
Tasmania – http://sdrtas.ddns.net:8073
Generally the very fast boats will finish the race in a couple of days, with most docked in Hobart well before New Years eve.
If you want to view the position of yachts, the following URL will lead you to a race tracker: