Why HF radio is mandatory for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

HF radio

The CYCA is aware of discussion as regards the long standing requirement in the Sailing Instructions for the 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race for yachts to report in by HF (High Frequency) radio at Green Cape.

The Sailing Instructions go on to state that if a yacht is unable to demonstrate it has a working HF radio at that time, it is unable to continue to race. The CYCA notes Australian Sailing’s (AS), the national sailing body, mandatory requirement for a working HF radio to be carried.

To clarify the position of the Race Committee, the main reason why HF functionality is required before a yacht enters Bass Strait, is to ensure it has the ability to broadcast and receive emergency messages to a wide range of listeners, including other yachts in the race which might be in a position to render faster assistance. 

This is particularly important in a mass emergency situation where several boats might need assistance, and HF is the advised preferred option for Search and Rescue authorities that support the race. 

The Race Committee has the view that other factors, such as the time of day and routine weather patterns, will likely more impact on Race HF communications than smoke from bush fires.

A suggested alternative, a satellite phone, clearly does not have a mass broadcast functionality and, while a very useful back-up, does not, in the Race Committee’s view, represent a suitable alternative in such an emergency situation, given HF is available.

The CYCA constantly reviews its fleet communication protocols, and how they apply to the learnings that came out of the review of the 1998 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race as regards the importance of efficient, effective and reliable fleet wide communications. 

In the 2019 race, as all competitors are aware, satellite phones will be used as a communications medium to complement HF radio.


  • Ice


    Eddy Lekens, Ice for his sailing friends, started sailing at the age of 9 and soon started racing with keelboats with his parents. He is the founder and owner of ClubRacer, one of Europe's most popular sailing websites. Eddy Lekens was in 2004 awarded for "best offshore sailor of The Netherlands" for his results with the Audi sailing team. His other passion away from sailing is being a omnichannel ecommerce consultant.