2018 King Island 

Well it's been exciting from the very begining, starting earlier in the week when the Race Director Simon Dryden made theScreen Shot 2018 03 10 at 4.20.25 pm call to move the start time from 2.30am to 1.00am.  Unfortunately with such light conditions in the few hours leading up to the start, a further review of the race start was required, as light winds and current were presenting challenging conditions to get outside of the heads.  In a first ever move, the race startline was moved to off Ocean Grove.  

The start was problematic for the rear of the fleet, missing the winds which were actually chasing the leader boats down towards King Island.  Moving from 0 - 4kts, initially and then picking up to 15 - 17kts, we now have an exhilerating race to both compete in and to watch on the tracker.


King Island Race Start

The current outlook for start of the race to King Island this weekend is looking a little problematic!

The current BOM wind forecast in the Heads is for very, very light winds.


The maximum ebb tide is just after midnight so for a start at 0200hours, there will still be some help from the outgoing tide.


It all could change over the next 36 hours but to give race management a full range of options to make sure that that the fleet safely navigates the Heads, two changes to the Sailing Instructions are being made:

  1. Move the start forward to 0100 to take maximum advantage of the ebb tide and
  2. To provide for a start line outside of the Heads, details of which will be in the revised Sailing Instructions to be posted later tonight in which case the start will be delayed. Which option we use will depend on the prevailing weather conditions at the time so boats should maintain a listening watch on VHF channel 82 at all times up to the scheduled Shipping Advice schedule at 0145.


The magic that happens – the race fairies you never really see


I love the King Island race, having done it many times on my own and on friends boats.  Gee it’s a lot of work to get the boat to a start line isn’t it ?  Provisioning, fuel, safety gear, audits, repairs, compliance paperwork, crew details.  How good is it to start a race and better still to finish one.  Arriving at King Island you pick up a mooring, get picked up by the inflatable, head to the bar for a drink, grab a steak then stand around the fire chatting till all hours and listen to the band.  You hang around for presso and then head home.

This year, helping out as part of the ORCV Race Management team what a different perspective I got.  I still love the race, love the people involved but wow what an eye opener.

Several months ago it all started – the meetings, the race documents, the marketing and compliance stuff.  Letters to authorities, formal approval, liaising with Port of Melbourne, organising the Coast Guard for the start and of course Kordia for the scheds.  Watching the office chase up boats and crew for paperwork, book flights and accommodation, arrange to borrow equipment, shipping of trophies and flags to King Island.  And then there is the organisation of volunteers – at least four for Race Directors, a couple for media, four more for incident management and a doctor on call of course.

And then a week out it all starts hotting up.  Trackers get set up and placed on each of the 20 or so boats.  The Race Director team meet up, to discuss each entrant (risk assessment), go over last minute plans.  The finishing team head off to the airport, the start team split, one to monitor the line on the Coast Guard boat heads to Queenscliff while the other heads to Cape Schanck to monitor the sign on sched.  The media team prepare the boat bios and prepare the background content.  

Meanwhile King Island yacht club have spent several months too, applying for their special all night liquor licence, ordering vast amounts of food and drinks, organising volunteers (who roster on all night cooking food), arrange the local trophies, arrange a vehicle and equipment for the finish line and start on the working bees to spruce up the club house.  They run around town putting up flyers and letting people know the event is on too including the mayor who is booked for presentation.  They organise the cool store container (thanks to King Island Dairy for that).  They organise to use the moorings and organise inflatables as well as boat crews (who roster on all night too).  They pick us up at the airport, billet us in their homes and made us very welcome.  Meanwhile we give them a hand unloading supplies and getting things ready at the club, realising just how much they have to purchase.  

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There are fires to light, computers and PA to set up, the band gear to prepare, cheeses to bag up, steaks to cut, last minute deliveries and phone calls of course.  Meanwhile life goes on, especially work and home life.  They have farms to tend, patients to see, homes and families to tend to – all this with the reality they will get no sleep the coming night.

You have seen the local volunteers behind the kitchen and behind the bar, always smiling and always ready to say hello.  You probably don’t think of them as local mums and dads, pub owners, farm owners, local business people, council.  You probably don’t notice the ORCV finish team recording results, doing the radio scheds, writing the web articles, messaging family and supporters, taking calls from interested parties and generally playing mother hen, watching over the fleet.  Boats come in, drinks get poured as they juggle mingling and chatting while taking photos and posting articles.  Fortunately the yachties are relatively well behaved so there is no drama there.  We chase up finishing declarations, hope for no protests and try to wrap up the formal results recording.  Before long there is a presentation to prepare, with trophies, results to check, articles to write.

Inevitably the boats leave and the clean up begins, you can imagine what that is like for tired locals and ORCV volunteers.  Some local volunteers we find out are also volunteering for a running race event on the Sunday too !!  Others volunteer to run some yachties to the airport too in their own car.  The ORCV team can almost relax, but still keep an eye on boats on the trip home, its not over yet.  There is more to do in the next couple of days too, debriefs and lessons learnt.

Chatting over dinner the night before the race with the Commodore of the King Island Yacht Club we get a real insight into how important the event is for the King Island Yacht club, its their major fundraiser for the year and they are very proud of “their” race.  They are a valued partner of the ORCV and a much appreciated group of people who give their time generously for you and your race.  They are a dwindling group of volunteers and are not getting any younger.  

Next time the urge comes from an impatient skipper or crew to spin around at the finish line of a race, we hope you remember the race fairies and come in for at least an hour or two and let them know how much you value what they do.

For some great interviews with King Island Yacht Club, click on:

Commodore Duncan Porter


Volunteer Kim Hill


How to update you boat and Crew details on the Tracker

Read more ...

King Island - fantastic destination for an ocean yacht race is now open to yachts without HF marine radio.  Top things to do when visiting King Island.

2021 M2KI boatsinharbourONLINE ENTRY

The ORCV is always keen to explore the latest technologies and has been a long campaigner for reducing barriers to ocean racing and sailing.  For the 2018 Melbourne to King Island Category 2 ocean race, the ORCV have again received approval from Australian Sailing for yachts to use satellite phone and VHF with DSC in lieu of HF marine radio.  Cost savings will be several thousand dollars for any yachts new to sailing to this wonderful destination.  The Notice of Race will have more details on Eligibility.  If you need any assistance with Safety compliance for a Category 2 event, the ORCV has ocean racing mentors at all major keel boat yacht clubs that would be happy to assist.

The annual Melbourne to King Island ocean yacht race, conducted on the Labour day long weekend in March, is one of the ORCV's shorter ocean races, at 114 nautical miles.  In addition to attracting some seasoned ocean racing campaigners, many use this as one of their first ocean races before progressing onto longer voyages.   

All ORCV events receive fantastic support from our Finish destination hosts, and the legendary hospitality and assistance crews enjoy from the King Island Boat Club at Grassy, is no exception.  Our great friends at the King Island Boat Club will again have volunteers on hand 24/7 to escort yachts into the Grassy Harbour and assist with mooring, no matter what time of the day or night you arrive.  Other volunteers work hard in shifts around the clock on their BBQs serving the famous King Island Steak sandwiches, and behind the bar. Nothing is too much trouble, from arranging local dignitaries to attend the race presentation to transport arrangements around King Island.

So you have arrived in Grassy Harbour after the ORCV's 114 nautical mile Melbourne to King Island yacht race. What next?

First order of business for most is to kick back and relax at the King Island Boat Club at Grassy Harbour to quench a well earned thirst from a Bass Strait crossing.  Their famous King Island Steak Sandwiches are well worth the trip and have been known be enjoyed by some vegetarians amongst the crews.  To wash off any Bass Strait salt, unique bathroom facilities are provided by the King Island Boat Club.  Water tanks have been repurposed to create a circular shower block.  They also provide King Island country style cooked breakfast.

Before the dash back to Port Phillip Heads the next day, here a list of some of the Top things to do at King Island:

The timing of Race presentation at the King Island Boat Club will depend largely on the weather and all yachts will be notified well in advance.

2013 Grassy PenguinsTake a short stroll along the breakwater and say hello to the ORCV Race Management Team located in the radio van which will be parked near the end of the breakwater in Grassy Harbour.  Be careful not to trip over the flotilla of fairy penguins that come ashore at dusk each night to rest in their burrows along the breakwater.

2012_M2KI_cheeseThere is lots of great things to eat on King Island and none more so than a selection of dairy products from the King Island Dairy. The King Island Boat Club has again organised a range of ‘Cheese Bags’  that can be purchased at the club. They include delicacies ranging  from wonderfully ripe King Island brie to the delicately flavoured cinnamon King Island yoghurt.  These goodies usually don’t last longer than the first ‘happy hour’  onboard on the return trip – so why not buy two bags - one to enjoy with your friends when you get home! 

King Island also has a great reputation for producing Australian s premium natural beef.  A number of  packs of King Island Beef, either scotch fillet or porterhouse steak, will be available for purchase at the boat club. The packs are "cryovaced" so they travel well onboard and if allowed to age make sensational eating.  Many of these packs never make it back as far as the "Heads".  If the weather is fine the temptation to enjoy a large juicy steak on a leisurely cruise back to Port Phillip Bay overcomes many crews.

If you are still feeling hungry – catch a lift over to Currie on the West side of the King Island to the wonderful King Island Bakehouse.   The Bakehouse has an extensive range of gorgeous gourmet food, including their award winning crayfish pies.  These pies are well worth the trek as they are packed full of delicious fresh King Island crayfish wrapped up in a buttery pastry shell. Eat in or takeaway. Open daily 7am-5pm. Phone: 6462 1337

2012_M2KI_crayfishIf you want more than just a taste of King Island crayfish why not purchase a whole cray to take back home. Foodworks, in Currie normally sell crayfish over the long weekend.  It is advisable to place orders at least 24 hours in advance. The crayfish will be priced at the market rate on the day. Call 6462 1144 or visit Foodworks on King Island.

If the sailing has not been punishing enough how about  an additional physical challenge on Sunday morning.  You could enter the King Island Imperial 20 - the only coast to coast footrace in Australia.  The King Island Imperial 20 has an event for everyone.  The main feature is a challenging 32km run. For the not so energetic there are support events which include a 8km run and 32km and 8km walking race and Teams Running and Walking events. This is not just another run... be prepared to indulge in the truly unique King Island lifestyle, generous hospitality and incredible food.  

King Island is one of Australia’s undiscovered island retreats. Wildly rugged, windswept and attractive, it boasts over 145km of untouched coastline. To  experience this rugged coastline and breathe in the freshest air in the world  - and perhaps take a dip in the water - a visit to the Lavinia State Reserve located on the north east coast of the island is not to be missed.  The reserve was named after the 52 ton schooner Martha Lavinia that, in 1871 travelling from Tasmania to Adelaide struck a reef offshore near the Reserve.  Within the northern section of this reserve lies  Lavinia Beach and two fresh water lakes: Lake Martha Lavinia and Penny’s Lagoon. With white sand seeming to stretch forever and a world  class surf break Lavinia Beach is one of the most popular surfing and fishing locations on the island.  Penny’s Lagoon is a rare perched lake found in only three locations in the world. It’s freshwater is held by compacted sand and organic matter. The lagoon is a favourite swimming spot for locals and visitors. 

CapeWickham 14th Hole XA1No trip to King Island is complete for a sailor without seeing the famous Cape Wickham Lighthouse from a landlubbers perspective. Situated at the northern tip of the island and surrounded by the Cape Wickham State Reserve, the lighthouse stands 52 meters above sea level and is the tallest in Australia. The lighthouse was constructed in 1861 and still guards the entrance to the strait today. Also within the reserve are the gravesites of some of the crew of Loch Leven, a ship that was wrecked nearby. A cairn shows a map of the old Victoria Cove settlement that used to exist here, and interpretation boards tell the story of numerous wrecks in the area.

If you are after a more leisurely sightseeing  activity closer to Grassy a visit  to the Calcified Forest in the Seal Rocks State Reserve located in the south-west of the island might be on your agenda.  An easy 30 minute walk from the reserve car park takes you to the fascinating calcified forest, where you can view the 700 year old calcified root systems of an ancient forest. Look out for Bennets wallabies, echidnas, blue tongue lizards and an abundance of bird life along the way.

Some other activities to do if you are staying longer than the weekend. The island is also famous for kelp harvesting and the best place to view the workers harvesting the kelp is on the west coast of the island directly out front of the Golf Club. You can also visit the Kelp Industries Visitors Center located at 89 Netherby Road Currie during a normal working day to  find out more information about the harvest and view a collection of photographs.

2012_m2KI_kelpharvestThe spectacular new Cape Wickham Golf Links has a world Ranking of #24 by Golf Digest.  The scenery is breathtaking.  It offers a rare and dramatic mix of coastal holes, with some leaning gently toward the ocean, others set atop a rocky headland.  The 11th almost “in” the sea and the 18th built directly above the beautiful beach at Victoria Cove.  Few courses interface with the ocean quite like Cape Wickham Links.

See the King Island Tourism Incorporated website for more tourist information.