The Osaka Cup double handed yacht race is held every four years on average, organised through the collaborative effort of three yacht clubs:
- Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC) in Melbourne, Australia
- Hokko Yacht Club (OHYC) in Osaka, Japan
- The Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (ORCV) in Melbourne, Australia
The Osaka Cup is a 5,500 nautical mile 2 handed yacht race starting in Melbourne and finishing in Osaka and it’s one of the only South-North long distance ocean races in the world. The route passes through multiple weather systems and seasons as it crosses the Pacific Ocean.
The course starts off Portsea taking the competitors into Bass Strait and up the east coast of Australia. At some point boats cross the East Australian current into the South easterly trade winds, then through the Solomon Islands and the doldrums of the equator. It then heads into the North easterly trade winds and the equatorial current before fighting the Kuroshio (Japan current), which flows up the Pacific Coast of Japan. The race finishes in the port of Osaka on Japan’s Honshu Island.
The objective of the Osaka Cup is to promote a challenging long-distance, short-handed racing event traversing the Pacific Ocean and in so doing, to provide a proving ground for true seamanship. It’s also designed to encourage the development of suitable seaworthy yachts and appropriate gear, supplies and techniques for short-handed ocean crossings under sail.
The race, first held in 1987 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the opening of the Port of Osaka, is now held every five years (on average) to celebrate the City of Melbourne and the City of Osaka Sister City and Sister Port relationship.
It has been proposed that the Osaka Cup race will take place for the ninth time in 2023.
The race participants sail from Melbourne to Osaka without stop-overs or outside assistance, traveling backward through the seasons with autumn in Melbourne, summer at the equator and spring in Osaka.
Like any major ocean race, many factors can be attributed to the final results. All competitors will agree, “just making it to the start line” is a huge achievement in itself. Getting to the finish line, “Is like a marathon – the feeling of achievement is unbelievable”. The greeting received in Japan is like no other, as each crew is celebrated and congratulated as they arrive, regardless of their race result.
This is Australia’s longest Category 1 yacht race, the equivalent of eight back-to-back Sydney to Hobart’s with only two people on board.
The Melbourne City Council provide the licence to use the “Melbourne to Osaka Double Handed Yacht Club” trademark and have provided hospitality support in the past.