If you want a luxury yacht destination that brings you close to a Formula 1 Grand Prix, there are now plenty of options available. Monaco, Sochi, Singapore and Abu Dhabi all offer easy access to the racing, alongside plenty of cruising potential once the racing stops. But for those who want to combine luxury VIP travel with premium access to major sporting events, Melbourne is now another first-class Grand Prix charter destination.
Nestling comfortably at the northern edge of Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne’s enduring reputation as Australia’s go-to destination for sporting events and cultural colour is fully justified. It’s the host city for the Australian Open tennis tournament – the first of the four events in the annual Grand Slam season. It’s home to the Melbourne Cup – an internationally acclaimed horse racing festival on a par with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Grand National. It’s the proud home of Australia’s largest sports stadium in the form of the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). And, having taken the mantle from Adelaide in 1996, the charming coastal city of Melbourne also now plays host to the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix
The Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit at Albert Park is just a five-minute taxi ride from your berth at Victoria Harbour. Here, just 500 metres from the beach in the south of the city, the fast but varied 3.3-mile street circuit wraps around picturesque Albert Park Lake. Held in mid-November, in often-changeable late spring conditions, it’s a venue that has earned the Australian Grand Prix a reputation as one of the most exciting events in the F1 calendar. It’s no surprise then that the event is also one of the best attended, with a capacity of 80,000 and well in excess of 300,000 people putting in an appearance throughout the course of the F1 weekend.
There are of course plenty of premium entertainments to be had onsite but the fact that the Grand Prix venue is on the tram route between the city and the beach also puts you on the cusp of some of Melbourne’s finest attractions. Head north and an easy 15-minute tram ride takes you to the buzzing heart of Melbourne city centre. Take a short stroll in the other direction and you will find yourself in the funky beachside suburb of St Kilda, with its cool music vibe, its easy-access watersports and its lovely historic pier.
Melbourne as a charter destination
As the cultural capital of Australia and an urban hub with a population of nearly five million, Melbourne is a brilliant destination in its own right. The UNESCO-protected World Heritage Royal Exhibition Building is a must-visit, as is the National Gallery of Victoria – Australia’s oldest, largest and most popular art museum. But a more enriching way to enjoy the city is to simply immerse yourself in its contrasting flavours. After all, with a proud multicultural heritage, Melbourne is a hub for cultural and gastronomic influences from all over the world. It mixes hundreds of types and styles of cafe and restaurant with an entirely unforced cocktail of glamorous boutiques, unpretentious markets, elegant alleyways and colourful street art.
Local yacht charter itineraries
While Melbourne could easily occupy you for a week or more, there are some superb destinations to be enjoyed just a short cruise away. Port Phillip Bay itself offers a vast coastline with plenty of parks and beaches, as well as scatterings of islands, shipwrecks and marine reserves. It is perennially popular for scuba diving and sea kayaking – and if you want to get up close and personal with the wildlife, there’s also plenty of opportunity to swim with dolphins or to fish for snapper. While Geelong in the west of the bay is a renowned wine region, the Mornington Peninsula, which lines the southeastern edge of Port Phillip Bay, is particularly enjoyable. Laced with hidden bays and beaches, it’s a fine place to embrace the laid back pace and quiet beauty of the landscapes, to treat yourself to a VIP spa treatment or to visit an award-winning winery.
Heading out through Victory Bight and around to Phillip Island also brings an extraordinary range of attractions for yacht charter guests. In addition to a Koala Conservation Centre and a chocolate factory, it offers surfers beaches, a World Superbikes Grand Prix circuit and even a regular nightly ‘Penguin Parade’ as the island’s resident penguins make their way back up the beach from the ocean. Further to the west, the coastline is even more dramatic, with the famous Bells Beach near Torquay, as well as the magnificent ‘12 Apostles’ rock formations and the lush and verdant Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, which is wholly contained within a volcanic crater.
Alternative motorsport yacht charters
If you’re looking for a memorable F1 Grand Prix yacht charter at a different time of year, there are several good options. While Monaco in May and Abu Dhabi in December remain the go-to events for witnessing the racing direct from the deck of your yacht, the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi in September and the ultra-glamorous Singapore Grand Prix in October are also at the pinnacle of the Grand Prix circuit.
The Bahrain Grand Prix in May is another impressive spectacle. From the prestigious Durrat Marina development in the south to high-spec Amwaj Marina in the north, there are plenty of berthing options – and while the racing action can’t be viewed directly from your yacht, the circuit is very easy to access and the fact that the action is played out under floodlights at night makes the whole event feel particularly exciting.
That said, if you’re content to look beyond the high-octane glamour of Formula 1, there are plenty of other ways to make premium motorsport a central part of your luxury charter. One of the very best is Mallorca’s Classic Car Rally (Rally Clásico Puerto Portals) in mid-March, which uses the ultra-glamorous marina of Puerto Portals in the Bay of Palma as the HQ for its cars. That makes it a very natural way for charter guests to mingle with the drivers and get a closer look at all kinds of rare and valuable exotica. And the Monaco Historic Grand Prix, which takes place on the principality’s iconic street circuit a couple of weeks before the Formula 1 event itself, is another great way to immerse yourself in the infectious chic of motor racing nostalgia from the deck of a luxury yacht.