Cyclone aftermath could foil Gold Coast record

Skandia aims for Gold Coast record
Grant Wharington’s super maxi Skandia has the waterline length and sail power to challenge Brindabella’s 27 hour 35 minute 3 second Sydney to Gold Coast record during the 2006 race starting on Saturday April 1. There is no question about her speed potential but skipper Wharington and crew will need a favourable spinnaker sailing forecast to record the required 13.93 knot average speed to beat the seven year old record.

Skandia claimed a place in Brisbane to Gladstone race history in 2004 when she averaged 15.09 knots to beat Sean Langman’s 66 footer AAPT by the narrow margin of 11 minutes 58 seconds.

However the Skandia crew will need some help from a moderate to fresh South East air flow to cross the finish line off the Gold Coast’s famed Main Beach before 4-30pm on Sunday to set a new time in the 384 nautical mile blue water classic.

The forecast after the big blow from the category 3 Cyclone Wati looks far from promising with the weather bureau issuing a light winds and calmer seas for most of the New South Wales and South Queensland coast over the next few days.

Furthermore the Eastern Australian current energized from cyclones Larry and Wati is presently flowing south faster than the normally accepted 5 knots past various headlands including Cape Byron which presents another hazard in the path of the record breaking attempt by Skandia.

All 45 skippers and crews understand that the best tactical strategy to succeed in this race is to limit the mistakes in sailing the narrow corridor between the Southerly Set offshore and the first line of surf dumping on the ocean beaches.

This will again be a major tactical priority, becoming more difficult during the hours between dusk and dawn when the wind also becomes unstable in strength and direction at this time of the year.

Skandia deserves the honour of being the first to finish but any attempt on Brindabella’s record appears remote unless there is a dramatic change in the coastal weather system on the weekend.

The battle for the minor line honours places will be played out in coastal match race between Wild Joe and Loki, the former Volvo Globe racer Seriously Ten and the impressive new Swan 60 Ginger.

Wild Joe the former Admirals Cup champion Wild Oats finished second last year and her young owner skipper Steven David has once again a crack team with the proven skill of World Etchells champions Iain Murray and Cameron Miles in his helming team for what promises to be tough race against Loki, Ginger and Seriously Ten.

Murray’s experience will again prove invaluable in the boat on boat ‘Dog Fight’ to establish the Admirals Cup, and 2005 Hog’s Breath Race Week champion Wild Joe as Australia’s most successful offshore pocket maxi.

This likely match race also has the potential to set the pace for the fastest overall handicap in a fleet that includes four former Rolex Sydney Hobart champions including the 1968 winner Koomooloo skippered by Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s Michael Freebairn.