Ocean Racing Club of Victoria
Steb Fisher

Melbourne to Devonport Race - The Rudder Cup

Ocean Race distance:  195 nautical miles 
Safety Category: 2
Start Location:  Queenscliff
Start Time:  1400 AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight Time)
Start Date: 1st November 2024
Race Record: 19h 32m 56s by PROWLER in 1998

This year, the Melbourne to Devonport, The Rudder Cup, Australia's oldest ocean race, will be honored as the ORCV race that runs on the "Melbourne Cup" long weekend. With a start off Queenscliff, the fleet will race to Devonport to be greeted and kindly hosted by the Mersey Yacht Club.

The Devonport race is a qualifying event for the 2024 Melbourne to Hobart "Westcoaster" and is expected to attract another large fleet. Devonport has always been a popular destination for ORCV and is a great place to visit.

The 195nm Devonport race starts off Queenscliff and proceeds across the Bass Strait to the finish line at the entrance of the Mersey River. Finishing yachts may proceed up the Mersey to the marina at the Mersey Yacht Club.  

The Rudder Cup is part of the ORCV Offshore Championship and is open to yachts fully crewed, 4+autohelm, and double-handed.

For a short time, around 2000 - 2007, the Rudder Cup race ran to Low Point at Launceston before moving back to Devonport, where it had been for 50 years or so before that.

The Rudder Cup


In 1907, Thomas Fleming Day, editor of the American magazine "Rudder" wrote to his friend, the Commodore of the Geelong Yacht Club, T. A. Dickson, suggesting a race across the Bass Strait to Tasmania to promote the sport of yachting. Day struck a trophy worth 60 guineas, a fortune at the time, as a prize for the winner.

More than 100 years later, yachts are still racing across the Bass Strait for the honour of winning the Rudder Cup. The Rudder Cup is Australia's oldest ocean race and the 5th oldest organised ocean yacht race in the world, predating the Fastnet by nearly 20 years and the Sydney to Hobart race by almost four decades.

The inaugural race was run from Port Phillip Heads to Low Head at the mouth of the Tamar River, a distance of 198 nautical miles. This first race was won by the 14.6m yawl Thistle skippered by Edgar Newland with a crew that included his wife and daughter. Conditions were reported to be very rough, so much so that Mrs. Newland refused to relinquish the Rudder Cup to dissuade other sailors from attempting such a dangerous race.  The race continued using alternative trophies, including the Doc Bennell Perpetual Trophy, funded by the Royal St Kilda Yacht Club.

In 1968, the original Rudder Cup trophy again came to light and was presented to the Cruising Yacht Club of Victoria, now known as the ORCV, by Edgar Newland’s son. The Rudder Cup Perpetual Trophy is awarded to the measurement handicap winner of the race across Bass Strait to Northern Tasmania – typically Devonport or Low Head at the mouth of the Tamar River.

The 195nm Melbourne to Devonport race forms part of the ORCV Offshore Championship and is open to yachts racing fully crewed, “autohelm plus 4” or double-handed.

This is a Category 2 event, as amended by the ORCV Special Regulations, which allows for using Satellite Phones instead of HF radios by suitably equipped yachts.


Race History

* Winner of the Rudder Cup based on the largest handicap division

 Year  IRC or ORC  AMS  PHS  Line DHD
2023 (Devonport) ORC.- Ginan (M111) Patriot (Sm133) Arcadia (S17) eXtasea (G10007) Joker X2 (M133)
2022 (Devonport) Race not run (weather)        
2021 (Devonport) ORC - Scaramouche (43) Vertigo (R935)* Scaramouche (43) Vertigo (R935) Gusto (B420)
2020 (Devonport) RMS Cole Walker (SM2024) RMS Cole Walker (SM2024)* Summer's Lease (AUS551) Lord Jiminy (S118) Joker on Tourer (MY1250)
2019 ((Devonport) Afrayed Knot (R6620) Tevake II (H101)* Tevake II (H101) Tevake II (H101) Under Capricorn (B120)
2018 (Devonport) Merlion (H8118) Mersea (B455)* Wingara (SB47 Dream (SM8)  Under Capricorn (B120)
2017 (Devonport) White Noise (Sm3535) Summer Wind (B237)* Summer Wind (B237) Dream (Sm8)  
2016 (Devonport) White Noise (Sm3535) Summer Wind (B237)* Magique (9567) Soiree Bleu (R34)  
2015 (Devonport) White Noise (Sm3535) White Noise (Sm3535)* White Noise (Sm3535) Peccadillo (V48)  Halcyon (R75)
2014 (Devonport) White Noise (Sm3535) Hush (Sm5508)* Hush (Sm5508) Gusto (B660)  
2013 (Launceston) Simply Fun (Sm42) Streetcar (B3200)* Streetcar (B3200) Simply Fun (Sm42)  
2012 (Launceston) No Fearr (B3) The Secretary (6107)* The Secretary (6107) Gusto (B660)  
2011 (Launceston) DeJa Vu (R166) DeJa Vu (R166)* DeJa Vu (R166) Arch Rival (S415)  
2010 (Launceston) Seven (Sm1777) Seven (Sm1777)* White Noise (Sm3535) Ninety Seven (B9797)  
2009 (Launceston) Akatea (G8710)* Caledonia (B818) Caledonia (B818) Extasea (G4646R  
2008 (Launceston)  The Secretary (6107)  Turbo (H602)*  Turbo (H602)  Turbo (H602)  


Prior Winners of the Rudder Cup

2007  Extasea P Buchholz
2006  Shogun R Hanna
2005  Ruthless J Geist
2004  Apollonius J Robinson
2003 Cadibarra  N Jones
2002 Bayside Star R Thurston
2001 Ruthless J Geist
2000 Ruthless J Geist
1999 DeJa Blue J Neilson
1998 Ruthless J Geist
1997 Frequent Flyer C Nicoll
1996 Joanne S Robinson
1995  Shenandoah R White
1994 Allegro B Moore
1993 Reverie A Woodward
1992 Sagacious II P Jacka
1991 Illusion N Knezic
1990 Inxs R Hellier
1989 Aquila H Leggett
1988 Once more dear friend D Currie
1987  Fire & Ice B McEwing
1986  Savage G Knezic
1985  ?  
1984  Vanessa N Beveridge
1983  Aquila B Edmunds
1982  Damel D Currie
1981  Invincible B Bienefelt
1980  Apollo  R Thurston
1979  Western Morning B Blainey
1978  Chaos R Spence
1977  ?  
1976  Apollo II R Thurston
1975  Koomooloo R Young
1974  Jisuma E Freeman
1973  Solent P Robinson
1972  Villoria L Abrahams
1971  Villoria L Abrahams
1970  Odin L Abrahams
1969  Four Winds II S Gibson
  Patchy Results  
1929 Oimara Frank Bennell
1907 Thistle E Newlands


Melbourne to Launceston Ocean Yacht Race

Ocean Race distance:  198 nautical miles 
Safety Category: 2
Start Location:  Queenscliff
Race Record: 18h 44m 05s by GUSTO in 2012

In previous years, Launceston was the destination for a post-Christmas dash across the Bass Strait.

The 198nm Launceston Race started from Portsea, proceeding across the Bass Strait to the finish line off Low Head at the entrance to the Tamar River. Finishing yachts then proceeded up the Tamar to the marina at Beauty Point for the final race in the series and the post-race hospitality and prize-giving dinner conducted by the Tamar Yacht Club.



Devonport News

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