Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race - NOR released

Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race 2014
Jennifer Crooks
The release of the Notice of Race for the 384 nautical mile Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race that will start on Sydney Harbour at 1pm, Saturday 26 July is announced by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. The rivalry between super maxis Wild Oats XI and Perpetual Loyal for line honours glory is set to take centre stage once again.

The dueling super maxis met twice last year and both times Oats triumphed but not before Perpetual Loyal stood up for attention.

First, in the Solas Big Boat Challenge in early December, Perpetual Loyal was leading Wild Oats XI on the second lap of the tight Harbour course, when she shredded the R1 headsail in stronger conditions than the sail was rated for; and in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Wild Oats XI secured her seventh line honours victory – but not before Perpetual Loyal had taken the lead on the first night and into the early morning of the 27th December.

Neither Wild Oats XI or Perpetual Loyal have raced since Hobart and are looking forward to what this coastal race can bring, which is often very different to the Hobart race. It can be very tricky tactically with crews having to bring their ‘A’ games and be ready for anything that the race throws at them.

'We’ve made no major changes to the boat since Hobart, just some minor tweaks aimed at getting maximum performance,' Mark Richards, skipper of Wild Oats XI said. 'We’re looking forward to whatever this race will throw at us.'

It is also anticipated that 87 year old Syd Fischer will bring his Elliott designed Ragamuffin 100 to the start line to challenge for line honours.

WildOats XI, Perpetual Loyal and Ragamuffin 100 did notrace in last year’s Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, asthe forner two were still undertaking modifications and Ragamuffin 100 was competing in the Transpac race in the USA.

This left the super maxi Wild Thing, skippered by Grant Wharington, to claim the 2013 line honours win in what is remembered as ‘a light air float fest’.

Wild Thing took 2 days 1 hour 21 minutes and 14 seconds to complete the course, well outside the open record set by Wild Oats XI in 2012 of 22hrs, 3mins, 46secs and Loki’s record for conventional yachts of 1 day, 2 hours, 52mins, 39secs.

Some of the 70 plus yachts expected to compete in the annual pilgrimage north include: Brindabella, the people’s maxi, owned by CYCA member Jim Cooney, which held the previous race record (27hrs, 35 mins, 43secs) for 13 years; Victoire, the overall winner of the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart that was also announced winner of the Gosford Lord Howe Island Yacht Race this week, Ichi Ban, Matt Allen’s Carkeek 60 and Southern Excellence II, Andrew Wenham’s Volvo 70.

Headlining the Queensland entries will be Peter Harburg’s Volvo 70 Black Jack, skippered by Mark Bradford.

'Everything came together nicely for us last year,' recalled Bradford of preparing Black Jack for Australian racing conditions, after Harburg purchased the boat.

'We had some strong competition from Giacomo in the Hobart race and the boat performed beautifully. It’s still early days in our campaign with this yacht. We’ll do the Brisbane to Gladstone, the Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast, the Brisbane to Keppel and then get ready for another assault on the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race,' Bradford said.

Alive, the former RP66 Black Jack, will return under new owner, Tasmanian businessman Phillip Turner, with the Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race his second major offshore outing since contesting the Brisbane to Gladstone race in April.

Last year’s overall winner and CYCA Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year for 2012-2013, Chris Bran, is taking a 12 month break from ocean racing after a pretty intense campaign since launching his Beneteau First 40 Brannew in February 2012.

Now in its 29th edition, the race was first sailed in 1986, following the construction of the $40 million Gold Coast seaway, which opened the sheltered waters of Southport’s Broadwater and other coastal waterways to the open sea. The inaugural race attracted a fleet of 86 of Australia’s leading yachts, with Sydney identity Jack Rooklyn bringing his famous 80-footer Apollo out of retirement for the race.

A leading maxi at the time, Apollo went on to take line honours and first place overall under the IOR rule. Among the famous yachtsmen who sailed in that first race was Jock Sturrock, who skippered Gretel in Australia’s first challenge for the America’s Cup in 1962.

The 384 nautical mile Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race heralds the commencement of the CYCA’s prestigious Blue Water Pointscore Series (BWPS) - a six-race series with the champion to be crowned at the conclusion of the 628 nautical-mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Last year, Roger Hickman claimed his fifth Blue Water Pointscore championship with his Farr 43 Wild Rose, commenting that 'this is the most special of all.'

'The Blue Water Pointscore has a certain mystique; an aura for an old stalwart like me. And to have won ORCi and PHS too, that’s just the icing on the cake!

'I have a resurrected boat that was sailed beautifully by my wonderful crew. The consistency and experience of my crew is special. We’re all very excited to defend our title,' Hickman added.

Finishing third to Wild Rose in the BWPS was Phil Molony’s Archambault 40, Papillon, which has been under repair during the early part of this year after sustaining rudder damage on the return journey from Hobart.

'The boat’s back and stronger than ever,' Molony said 'I’m looking forward to competing in the Land Rover Winter Series, prior to the Gold Coast race.'

Brothers Derek and Martin Sheppard also had a terrific first season in the BWPS finishing second to Wild Rose under ORCi with their aptly named Black Sheep. They will be looking to improve on their performance in the series that was dominated by light airs which didn’t really suit their heavier Beneteau 45.

The Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht takes the fleet from the Nielsen Park start line, down the Harbour and out through Sydney Heads, before turning left to head to the finish line off Main Beach at Southport, on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Entry can be completed online until 1700 hours on Friday 11 July by logging on to website and to view the Notice of Race click here.