Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race - Wharington puts the foot down
by Jennifer Crooks on 27 Jul 2013
In the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race this afternoon, amidst a large spectator fleet, Grant Wharington put the foot down on his 100 foot Wild Thing to lead the 47 boat fleet out of Sydney Harbour.
2013 Sydney to Gold Coast - Fleet working their way up the Harbour. © Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/
Despite earlier concerns at the race briefing this morning, the light airs did not bother the Queensland super maxi or her crew, leaving daylight between them and the rest of the fleet as they headed north towards the Southport destination.
As earlier predicted by many, it could be anyone’s race, as old and small mixed it with the newer and largest in the fleet, after the 1.00pm start on Sydney Harbour today in the first race of the CYCA’s Blue Water Point Score series.
Wharington’s mid-line line start in 3 knots of westerly on an outgoing tide and his tactic of heading east and sailing deep into Watsons Bay paid huge dividends.
Shortly after the spinnaker start, the breeze started to gain a little momentum and those who gave Wild Thing the most trouble were the revamped 24 year-old Audi Sunshine Coast(Rod Jones), the 50 footer originally launched as Heaven Can Wait for Warren Johns, who died last year.
As the westerly faded to almost nothing during a transition in breeze, Midnight Rambler, the Ker 40 of Ed Psaltis/Ed Thomas/Michael Bencsik was making gains on Audi Sunshine Coast.
Having previously won the 384 nautical mile race and won the fatal 1998 Hobart race, Psaltis (at the helm) and his co-owners had overtaken Jones’ Queensland entry, which was struggling in the next to nothing, while the rest of the fleet was left floundering in the Harbour.
As the clock ticked to 1.35pm, a light north-easterly breeze arrived and initially favoured the top three yachts, which were at Sydney Heads, with Wild Thing having exited the Harbour. By then, the fleet was literally split into three.
By 1.48pm, the second push was abeam of Lady Bay, just inside South Head and led by CYCA Commodore, Howard Piggott and his Beneteau First 40, Flying Cloud. The new Black Jack (Peter Harburg, Qld), the Volvo 70 formerly launched as Telefonica, was giving chase, with Peter Millard and John Honan’s Lahana up with them.
In the third group, some of the smallest in the fleet, such as Kim Jaggar and Travis Read’s Davidson 34 Illusion and the Northshore 11.1m Mortgage Choice Rumba (Robert Carr/Stephanie Cook/Kerry Burke), still had around half of the Harbour to cover before they too would exit the Harbour.
Shortly after 3.00pm, Rod Jones’ crew reported: 'The team onboard Audi Sunshine Coast very happy with the start and the run down the Harbour; a bit of good fortune as well always helps, but well sailed by all on board.
'We’re currently in third place, just off Dee Why and about to be passed by Black Jack to windward,' said crew members who were sailing in 'about 6 knots of pressure in a nice nor’ easter postcard conditions.'
From aboard one of the race favourites, Bill Wild’s Custom 55, Wedgetail, navigator Will Oxley reported: 'Slow start, but just beautiful winter’s day to compensate. We’re sailing just off Long reef in a 5 knot north-easterly breeze.'
After getting away to a good start, Oxley’s ride got caught in the second group of boats when the breeze started to dwindle. 'Audi Sunshine Coasthad best start of the 50 footers, but we are slowly reeling her in,' he said.
'The Volvo 70's don't seem to be big fans of the light airs,' the navigator noted after the slow exit of Black Jack and the Jones 70, Southern Excellence II (formerly Ichi Ban), which was also in the second pack.
The CYCA’s proven yacht tacker system will allow family, friends and yachting enthusiasts to follow the race - and their favourite yachts - for its duration. Each yacht will be fitted with a Yellowbrick tracker that will obtain a position using the GPS satellite network, and then transmit that position back to Yellowbrick HQ using the Iridium satellite network.
Each yacht’s position is then visualised on the race yacht tracker map here, or overlaid on Google Earth.In addition, the yacht tracker system also shows distance to finish line and progressive corrected time positions under the IRC, ORCi and PHS handicap divisions throughout the race.
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