Queenslander Grant Wharington continues to lead the 384 nautical mile Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race this afternoon, keeping his 100 foot Wild Thing in front of Sydney super maxi, Lahana (John Honan and Peter Millard) at 3.30pm today.
Sydney to Gold Coast 2013
Wild Thing, 14 nautical miles clear of her nearest rival in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s annual race, is joined by two other Queensland entries in the top four on line; Peter Harburg’s freshly purchased V70 Black Jack has moved up into third on line, with the much smaller Wedgetail, Bill Wild’s Custom 55 in fourth place, with Brindabella, Jim Cooney’s Jutson 80 from NSW, hanging onto her coat tails.
Wharington, of course, is pleased with his boat and crew’s performance. 'It’s been pretty good so far we’ve used the right sails and gone the right way. It’s just good to be out here doing our thing,' the former Victorian said.
'The boat’s going well and our navigator (David Turton) has done a good job,' said Wharington who admitted they were stuck in a parking lot for a short time along with others. 'It glassed out for a while everywhere it was frustrating watching the others take some miles out of our lead - so we’ve headed offshore a bit in search of breeze.'
Wharington said they had been sailing in as little as two knots at times and were currently in 7-10 knots of north-easterly and expecting a bit more breeze this afternoon. With 200 nautical miles still to sail, he is hopeful of a morning or mid-morning finish tomorrow.
Aboard Brindabella, the crew is match racing Wedgetail in hopes of regaining their fourth place on line. 'We had a slow night and Wedgetail overtook us. They’re only about a mile ahead of us and we’re match racing them trying to get back in front,' crew boss Bradshaw Kellett said.
'We’re sailing about four miles off the coast just off Port Macquarie after committing to the coast last night so I guess we’re stuck with that decision now, but it’s really comfortable sailing,' he added.
However, leading the race overall for the major trophy this afternoon is CYCA Commodore Howard Piggott and his Beneteau First 40, Flying Cloud. Piggott got away to a good start in the race yesterday, exiting Sydney Heads in the top eight places and is well positioned to win the race. However, there is still a long way to go, Flying Cloud has 269 miles to sail to reach the Main Beach, Southport, finish line.
Flying Cloud is being chased by Andy Kearnan’s Summit 35, L‘Altra Donna (NSW) and David Taylor’s Tasmanian entry, Pisces, a modified Sydney 36, which fill out the top three.
So far, the race is panning out as many thought; the smaller boats are benefitting from the light and variable airs that have plagued the race, but that could be about to change with the north-east breeze expected to reach 15 knots any time now.
From ninth place overall, Celestial’s owner, Sam Haynes is convinced they can move up into a podium place by race-end, but he will have to climb over the top of six boats to do so, including Chris Bran’s Brannew in fourth place, Dennis Cooper’s Amante, Derek and Martin Sheppard’s well-named Black Sheep, Graeme Hall’s Close Halled and Peter Mosely’s Local Hero (ACT).
Haynes reported from his Rogers 46: 'There is still a long way to go (241 nautical miles for his yacht) and we’ve finally got wind 15 knots of north-easterly. We’re starting to get some water over the deck and for the first time in the race we’ll have weight on the rail by tonight.
'We’ve seen plenty of whales this afternoon; there’s a lot of wild life today as we try to claw our way up to Hacking Point. We’re sailing close to shore and can see the TP52’s not too far in front of us,' finished Haynes, who has more than this race on his mind, his main goal being to win the CYCA’s Blue Water Point Score in which he finished second last year. The Sydney-Gold Coast is the first race of the prestigious series.
Meanwhile, Rod Jones’ Welbourn 50, Audi Sunshine Coast (Qld), has tumbled from a top three position down to 11th overall. Crew member, James Walker, commented: 'We’re currently in 12 knots of north-east breeze after the long awaited gradient flow filled in late this afternoon after we had a variable four-six knot north-westerly for most of the day.'
'We’re in a good position within our division, and provided we can put a few runs on the board tonight, we think we are in good shape.'
At the afternoon sked, Bruce Taylor’s Caprice 40, Chutzpah (Vic) retired, due to problems with its HF radio. Taylor said the disappointed crew would sail the boat back to Sydney. They are the second boat to pull out of the race following Anger Management’s retirement early this morning. Forty five boats remain on the race track.
The CYCA’s proven yacht tacker system will allow family, friends and yachting enthusiasts to follow the race - and their favourite yachts - for its duration. Each yacht will be fitted with a Yellowbrick tracker that will obtain a position using the GPS satellite network, and then transmit that position back to Yellowbrick HQ using the Iridium satellite network.