by Tony Evans
The 39th Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht race got underway today in Broken Bay at 1300 hrs in a race that may prove to be a tactical nightmare and provide some upsets.
Zoe start - Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race 2013
Tricky and light conditions on the back of a pre-start rain squall, found all yachts way short of the start line at the gun.
Broken Bay delivered 3-5 knots breeze SE at the pin tending SW at the starters end of the line combined with a run in tide, which saw some boats becalme as official starter and Member for the Central Coast Chris Hartcher fired the ceremonial shotgun to get the fleet away.
First boat to cross onto the racetrack at the pin end was the TP52 Frantic, closely shadowed by the smallest boat in the fleet the Hick 35 Luna Sea. However, both were pipped at the start by Wayne Millar’s Murray 41 Zoe with Millar choosing the top end of the line in search of a light southerly that appeared to be developing offshore.
First to get to the breeze, Zoe was also the first boat to raise a kite and set a SE course to sea looking for pressure. Whilst some of the larger boats in the race were languishing and yet to start, the lightweight Luna Sea picked up on a puff in clear air and set a running course straight along the rhumb line toward the Terrigal spectator mark.
As the bulk of the fleet set a course to sea this left the little Hick 35 (formely Midnight Rambler) in front on line honours for almost the entire first hour of the race.
Back in the in the main bunch, Frantic and Rod Jones’ optimised Welbourn 50 Alegria V settled down into what may become the best battle on the racetrack for the duration of the race.
The crew of Southern Excellence II would probably prefer to forget their start and took forever to get a roll on, but once up to the Terrigal mark, the VO70 found it’s sea legs and took the lead in the race for line honours.
As of 1630hrs the Yellowbrick tracker shows Southern Excellence II running a course straight for Lord Howe and maintaining 10 knots with Alegria V and Frantic 4 miles astern.
Leading IRC in the early stages appears to be Alegria V from Wild Rose and AFR Midnight Rambler