Smooth Sounds Of Sailing – Alistair Douglas
by Stephanie Williams
Alistair Douglas, OAM, plays an integral role in guiding salty sea dogs into port each year as part of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. He recently let us into the control room to get the lowdown on the action.
What role do you play in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race each year?
I manage the marine radio operations at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, including equipment maintenance, operator rostering and training, and being a member of the RYCT race finish committee. Radio maintenance involves ensuring our radio equipment at the Club and at two remote locations at Mt Raoul on the Tasman Peninsula and at Mt Murray about four kilometres north of Triabunna. About 20 radio operators are rostered to ensure continuous radio coverage for the race from the time the race starts on Boxing Day on Sydney Harbour until the last yacht crosses the finish line at Castray Esplanade in Hobart up to eight days later.
How long have you been on the airwaves?
I commenced this role of radio manager in 1999 following competing in the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. At the same time I qualified as a Survival and Sea Safety instructor and in marine radio operations, running these courses for competitors for many years.
Do any moments stand out?
The events easiest to remember are those when competitors require assistance following a mishap at sea such as yacht damage or an injured crew. But a personal highlight was last year at the prize giving presentations in Hobart when I was awarded the Meritorious Service Award in recognition of my contribution to the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
What are you most looking forward to for this year’s race?
The 2019 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is the 75th edition of the event and as a consequence has attracted a much larger list of entrants with 168 yachts due to make the challenging trip south. The challenge for me and my team of radio operators will be coping with the anticipated increase of radio traffic, supporting the crew on the radio relay vessel JBW and ensuring we can do our best within our scope to make all competitors journey safe and enjoyable. ■