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Is the Sydney to Hobart Australia’s most irrelevant event?

Wild Oats Xl, centre, is one of the favourites for the 2015 Sydney to Hobart yacht race. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
Expert
29th December, 2016
31

I’m going to nail my colours to the mast. I couldn’t care less about the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. And I’ll go out on a limb and say not many other folks do either.

The 2016 race start had total TV ratings figures of 488,000. To compare, ‘The Cricket Show’ during the day 1 tea break at the MCG drew 807,000.

Sure there were a bunch of people watching around the heads in Sydney, but I’m putting that down to the chance for a barbeque and a few drinks more than a deep love for what’s happening on the water.

Hobart locals do come out to see the finish but they don’t have much choice for live sport in Tasmania, what with the constant snubbing by other national sports codes.

The Roar had a good crack at providing coverage for the race too, eight published articles and a live blog. The total number of reader comments across that coverage? 55. And 54 of them are on the live blog. And 46 of those comments were the live blog itself, by the fantastic and extremely knowledgable Mark Richmond.

No doubt there are sailors and people with a lifetime love of the sport, who put their heart and soul into their (often dangerous) craft and they are able to do things that I could never do if I tried.

It must drive these folks crazy to see their life’s work cast aside for mass coverage of the travails and quirky moments had by the celebrities and journalists who ‘crew’ these boats.

This year Perpetual Loyal won and broke the race record. Can anyone name its skipper without googling it? I bet you can name Erin Molan, the channel nine sports journalist who was on the boat and received most of the post-race coverage.

Speaking of coverage. Is there a sport in Australia that receives such wildly out of proportion media attention compared to actual public interest? Even ABC News 24 was leading their news updates with how the race was going.

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I tip my hat to the yacht captains and owners though.

They know that adding celebrities and journo crew members will guarantee coverage and attention to their boat during the race. But the impression I get during every Sydney to Hobart is that people are mildly indifferent towards it at best.

I’m old enough to remember yacht racing being televised during the cricket lunch break and even back then it was a bunch of corporation-named boats racing each other, more a curiosity than something everyone was begging to see.

Maybe I’m in the wrong social media bubbles. Maybe I need to expand my mind a bit. Maybe I’m an old grump.

But I’m yet to meet anyone who can convince me why I should care about this ‘icon’ of Australian sporting tradition.

Am I wrong? Pile in and let me know.