Bass Strait and the waters of the Pacific Ocean immediately to its east are renowned for their high winds and difficult seas.
Although the race mostly takes place in the Tasman Sea, the shallowness of Bass Strait and its proximity to the race course means that the fleet is very much under the influence of the Strait as they transit from the mainland to Flinders Island.
Even though the race is held in the Australian summer, "southerly buster" storms can often make the Sydney Hobart race cold, bumpy and very challenging for the crew.
Bass Strait (nicknamed the paddock) has a dangerous personality. It can be dead calm or spectacularly grand.
The water is relatively shallow and the winds can be strong – these two elements often coming to create a steep and difficult sea for yachts.
The third leg after the 'paddock' – down the east coast of Tasmania – takes the fleet past holiday resorts and fishing ports with towering mountains in the background. Approaching Tasman Island, the coastline comprises massive cliffs, sometimes shrouded in fog.
The winds are often fickle and can vary in strength and direction within a few miles. Sailing becomes very tactical.
After turning right at Tasman Island, sailors often think the race is nearly over, but at this point there is still 40 miles
of often hard sailing to go. Some yachts can be left behind in the maze of currents and wind frustrations.
Even when they round the Iron Pot, a tiny island that was once a whaling station, there is still a further eleven miles up the broad reaches of the Derwent River to the finish line off Hobart's historic Battery Point, with Mount Wellington towering over the city.