South East Cape
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South East Cape is located at the southernmost point of the main island of Tasmania, the southernmost state of Australia.[1] The cape is situated in the southern and south-eastern corner of the Southwest National Park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, approximately 94 kilometres (58 mi) southwest of Hobart in Tasmania and about 65 kilometres (40 mi) east and a little south of the South West Cape.

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On 24 November 1642 Abel Tasman reached and sighted the west coast of Tasmania, north of Macquarie Harbour.[11] He named his discovery Van Diemen’s Land after Antonio van DiemenGovernor-General of the Dutch East Indies.

 

Proceeding south Tasman skirted the southern end of Tasmania and turned north-east. He then tried to work his two ships into Adventure Bay on the east coast of South Bruny Island where he was blown out to sea by a storm. This area he named Storm Bay. Two days later, on December 1, Tasman anchored to the north of Cape Frederick Hendrick just north of the Forestier Peninsula. On December 2, two ship’s boats under the command of the Pilot Major Visscher, rowed through the Marion Narrows into Blackman Bay, and across the west to the outflow of Boomer Creek where they gather some edible “greens”. Tasman named Frederick Hendrik Bay, which included the present North Bay, Marion Bay and the inlet Blackman Bay (The name Frederick Henry Bay was mistakenly transferred to its present location by Marion Dufresne in 1772). The next day, an attempt was made to land in North Bay. However, because the sea was too rough the carpenter swam through the surf and planted the Dutch flag. Tasman then claimed formal possession of the land on 3 December 1642.

 

For two more days, he continued to follow the east coast northward to see how far it went. When the land veered to the north-west at Eddystone Point,[14] he tried to keep in with it but his ships were suddenly hit by the Roaring Forties howling through Bass Strait. The impenetrable wind wall indicated that here was a strait, not a bay. Tasman was on a mission to find the Southern Continent, not more islands, so he abruptly turned away to the east and continued his continent-hunting.

 

The name was later shortened to Van Diemen’s Land by the British. In 1772, a French expedition led by Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne landed on the island. Captain James Cook also sighted the island in 1777, and numerous other European seafarers made landfalls, adding a colourful array to the names of topographical features.

 

The first settlement was by the British at Risdon Cove on the eastern bank of the Derwent estuary in 1803, by a small party sent from Sydney, under Lt. John Bowen. An alternative settlement was established by Capt. David Collins 5 km to the south in 1804 in Sullivans Cove on the western side of the Derwent, where fresh water was more plentiful. The latter settlement became known as Hobart Town, later shortened to Hobart, after the British Colonial Secretary of the time, Lord Hobart. The settlement at Risdon was later abandoned.

 

The early settlers were mostly convicts and their military guards, with the task of developing agriculture and other industries. Numerous other convict settlements were made in Van Diemens Land, including secondary prisons, such as the particularly harsh penal colonies at Port Arthur in the south-east and Macquarie Harbour on the West Coast. The Aboriginal resistance to this invasion was so strong, that troops were deployed across much of Tasmania to drive the Aborigines into captivity on nearby islands.

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Bass Strait, and the waters of the Pacific Ocean immediately to its east, are renowned for their high winds and difficult seas. Although the race mostly takes place in the Tasman Sea, the shallowness of Bass Strait and the proximity to the race course means that the fleet is very much under the influence of the Strait as they transit from the mainland to Flinders Island. Even though the race is held in the Australian summer, “southerly buster” storms often make the Sydney–Hobart race cold, bumpy, and very challenging for the crew. It is typical for a considerable number of yachts to retire, often at Eden on the New South Wales south coast, the last sheltered harbour before Flinders Island.

 

The inaugural race in 1945 had nine starters. John Illingworth‘s Rani, built in Speers Point, New South Wales was the winner, taking six days, 14 hours and 22 minutes. Race records for the fastest (elapsed) time dropped rapidly. However, it took 21 years for the 1975 record by Kialoa from the USA to be broken by the German yacht Morning Glory in 1996, and then only by a dramatic 29 minutes, as she tacked up the Derwent Riveragainst the clock. In 1999 Denmark’s Nokia sailed the course in one day, 19 hours, 48 minutes and two seconds, a record which stood until 2005 when Wild Oats XI won line and handicap honours in 1 day 18 hr 40 min 10 sec.

 

There have been some notable achievements by yachts over the years. Sydney yacht, Morna, won the secondthird and fourth races (1946–1948) and then, under new owners Frank and John Livingston from Victoria, took a further four titles as Kurrewa IV in 1954, 1956, 1957 and 1960. Other yachts to win three or more titles are Astor (1961, 1963 and 1964) and Bumblebee IV firstly in 1979 and then again in 1988 and 1990 as Ragamuffin. When Wild Oats XI won back-to-back titles in 2006, it was the first yacht to do so since Astor in the 1960s.[6] Wild Oats XI claimed its third consecutive line honours title in the 2007 race, re-writing history by being only the second yacht after Rani in the inaugural 1945 race to win line and handicap honours and break the race record in the same year (2005) and then only the second yacht after Morna to win three line honours titles in a row. In 2008Wild Oats XI broke Morna’s long-standing record of three titles in a row, by completing a four-in-a-row, the first yacht to achieve that remarkable achievement. For the handicap race the highly respected Halvorsen brothers’ Freya won three titles back-to-back (the only yacht in history to do so) between 1963 and 1965. Although not consecutive, Love & War equalled Freya’s three titles by winning its third in 2006 to add to its 1974 and 1978 titles.

 

The 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race was marred by tragedy when, during an exceptionally strong storm (which had similar strength winds to a lower-category hurricane), five boats sank and six people died. Of the 115 boats that started, only 44 made it to Hobart. As a result, the crew eligibility rules were tightened, requiring a higher minimum age and experience. G. Bruce Knecht wrote a book about this race called “The Proving Ground”. (ISBN 0-316-49955-2) A coronial enquiry into the race was critical of both the race management at the time and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.