The Australian summer is always shaped around rituals. First, of course, is Christmas; then Boxing Day; the trawl up the coast to a sleepy, beach-side town; and the sporting events scattered throughout the calendar.
Often the annual matches and competitions that occur over summer can go by – or be flicked past on the television – relatively unnoticed. However, it’s worth giving them a look-in, as these events draw huge crowds (and television audiences) year in, year out. They’re an important part of our national psyche, and engaging with them can help you feel more connected to your fellow Australians.
The Sydney to Hobart yacht race, which I’ve previously written about, is a chief motivation for avoiding alcoholic over-indulgence on Christmas Day. The knowledge that you’ll be spending the following day in awe of a sea of boats – perhaps from North Head, or even on a spectator boat – is reason enough to put the eggnogg away at a reasonable hour. Each year, the race generates a flurry of publicity in the weeks and months leading up to the start of the race. Equally intense is the swarm of bets – frequently placed in a last-minute, post-Christmas, still-somewhat-inebriated rush. In order to avoid this stress, dedicated commentators and observers alike are sure to learn how to pick and bet on winners well in advance. It is expected that this year, six-time line honours winner Wild Oats will engage in a fierce battle with Perpetual LOYAL for the prestigious pole position.
Although the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race is undoubtedly the highlight of the yachting calendar, races occur regularly across the year, meaning that enthusiasts can get their fix on a regular basis.
If you find it challenging to eschew the temptation of eggnogg (or other, more powerful spirits) on Christmas Day, then staying at home to watch the Boxing Day test might be preferable to testing your sea legs so soon after alcoholic consumption. Putting some money on the sporting events directly following Christmas is also a great way to maximise (or minimise) any generous Christmas cheques. There’s so much horse racing info online, but resources and odds for other sports like cricket are also easy to find.
This year, the Boxing Day test will be played against England, forming the fourth test of the current Ashes series. Australia is currently leading the series 2-0, meaning that this test could prove pivotal in securing the series for Australia after a disappointing, 0-3 loss in the last Ashes series. The test looks set to be a roaring success crowd-wise, with tickets already sold out – a potentially record-breaking feat.
You could be forgiven for thinking that following a cluster of Boxing Day events, things generally start to calm down in the sporting domain. Tennis, though, only begins to hit its stride in the New Year, with the Sydney International kicking off on January 5. Similar warm-up tournaments around the country will culminate in the Australian Open – perfect viewing when nursing a cup of over-sugared tea, waiting for the sun to begin its decline so you can return to the beach. Clued-in betting services like Practical Punting might suggest that Australia’s chances of producing a slam-winning player in time for the tournament mightn’t be all that great. But we can hope, right?