by Tony Evans
The Gosford Sailing Club has announced the provisional entry list for the 39th Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race immediately following the close of entries this evening. The entry list for 2013 has been declared the most competitive race fleet ever by the organising committee.
Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race logo
Whilst small in quantity due to mooring restrictions on the Island, the fleet is high in quality with 16 boats likely to face the starter in Broken Bay Saturday 6th April 2013 and these were selected from an entry base of around 30 boats.
It appears that the Gosford Club has been vindicated in their decision to move the race from October to the end of the summer sailing season in April, and the competitor interest has been exceptional.
The mooring restrictions at Lord Howe Island limit the fleet like no other yachting event and the organisers say they had a tough time deciding on the final make up.
'Whilst some skippers might be wondering why we could not include them in this year’s race, in the end it came down to keel depths and accommodation availability' Race Director Tony Evans said.
'It would have been nice to accept every entry and some of those who missed out this year would have been very competitive.'
This year’s G2LHI race fleet boasts no fewer than six previous overall winners (boat or skipper) including the last two and a host of competitive IRC ocean racers.
The overall winner this year will need to be at the top of their game to take honours in the 2013 Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race and on first glance, the Ker 40 AFR Midnight Rambler from the CYCA will go in as a warm favourite.
Skipper Ed Psaltis is both a former Sydney-Hobart and a Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race winner.
AFR Midnight Rambler was second in IRC Division 3 in the recent Sydney to Hobart Race and Psaltis will be keen to improve on that result in the coveted Cat 1 race to Lord Howe.
AFR MIDNIGHT RAMBLER, Ed Psaltis - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2011
Another skipper from the CYCA with similar credentials is Roger Hickman who with the veteran Farr 43 Wild Rose is the defending title holder for the G2LHI race.
More recently Hicko and Wild Rose won Division 4 IRC in the 2012 Syd-Hobart and was 13th overall in what was acknowledged as being a bigger boat’s race.
Wild Rose recorded a very similar result in the Syd-Hobart of 2011 and in fact has won at each of its past three Cat 1 race outings.
Pleasing too for the organisers is the return of Race Record holder the VO60 Merit who will contest this year’s race.
The VO70 Southern Excellence II (formerly Ichi Ban), is undertaking its first G2LHI Race and a race record could be on the cards if conditions are moderately suitable.
New owner CYCA Director Andrew Wenham finalised negotiations earlier this week and SE II will now start as the line honours favourite.
The current race record of 33hrs,34mins and 21 secs was set back in 2002 by Merit and the average speed of that race was a little under 12.5knots.
Wenham says that Southern Excellence II is capable of maintaining a much higher average speed providing they don’t stop at night and several of the Ichi Ban crew will be aboard to help the new owner drive the boat hard.
However, conditions in 2002 were ideal for Merit with a fresh south easterly of 20-30kts providing the angle and speed to sail the race on one reach virtually along the rhumb-line.
If Southern Excellence II sees these conditions in 2013, the VO70 could conceivably knock 3-4 hours off the current race record.
All eyes will be on the BOM representative at the Race Briefing when the forecast is delivered in anticipation of an 11 year record falling.
The provisional entry list follows:
AFR Midnight Rambler-Ker 40-Ed Psaltis
Alegria V-Welbourn 50- Rod Jones
Balance-Beneteau First 45- Paul Clitheroe
Copernicus-Radford 12-Greg Zyner
Frantic-TP52- Michael Martin
King Billy-King 37-Phil Bennett
Luna Sea-Hick 35-James Cameron
Merlin-Kaiko 50-David Forbes
Ocean Affinity-Marten 49-Stewart Lewis
Southern Excellence II-VO70-Andrew Wenham
Sweetheart-Jutson 39-Laurence Pidgeon
Wild Rose-Farr 43-Roger Hickman
Zoe-Murray 41-Wayne Millar
A full fleet/form guide will be available for download from the Gosford Sailing Club website nearer the start date.