With 81 boats entered, the Boxing Day Dash is shaping to be another spectacular sight when it commences at 10.30 am on the 26th December. A favourite Boxing Day pastime for a large part of the Melbourne yachting community this race also forms the first leg of the series for those boats going on to Tasmania the next day.
Cock of the Bay - Boxing Day Dash
The race starts in the vicinity of Station Pier, Port Melbourne and hugs the coast until it passes Sandringham. This means that the fleet is easily visible from the shore at Elwood, Brighton and Sandringham and provides a colourful spectator sight.
Early forecasts are for a warm day with variable northerlies early in the race turning southerly later in the day. This will favour the bigger boats at the front of the fleet.
Last year’s line honours winner Gusto, an Open 66 skippered by Brian Pattinson is once again looking strong for Line Honours in this race. Whilst they are heading for Tasmania the next day with just two crew on board they will be fully crewed for the Boxing Day Dash. They won’t have it all their own way at the pointy end of the fleet with strong competition coming from John Williams’ Calm, a TP 52 and Peter Blake’s Farr 52, Goldfinger. The latter is the current record holder for the Melbourne to Hobart East Coast race and is an experienced and well sailed competitor.
The modern fleet includes a large range of 40 footers that will make for a great battle in the middle of the fleet for handicap honours. With a fleet of this size we can expect some close duels taxing the tacticians. Do they go in close to shore or stay out? When will the sea breeze kick in and who will be the first to pick it? It is a long race and requires concentration from the crew which is not always easy after a big Christmas Day.
We can expect a finish in the late afternoon near the Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron, the boats are then prepared for the start of the Tassie Trio races. Many of the Ocean racing fleet will have lightened their boats for the Boxing Day Dash and will spend the evening hauling life rafts, food, water and anchor chains to prepare for the start the next day of the Tassie Trio.