Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race - Winner still undecided

Bob Steel, Quest, said the race was one of those you don’t want to remember.
Seventy two hours into a very slow Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race and just 18 yachts have finished the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 384 nautical mile offshore season opener and with so many still on the course, the overall winner is yet to be decided.

At 1.00pm, Chris Bran’s Beneteau 40 CR, Brannew was still in the hot seat, while Roger Hickman’s Farr 43, Wild Rose, Andy Kearnan’s Summit 35, L‘Altra Donna, and Phil Molony’s A40, Papillonwere continually swapping second to fourth places. All four boats are from NSW. There are still a number of yachts in the running for the overall prize, and the situation is expected to become clearer later this afternoon or early evening, when a number will be finished.

Back onshore, those whose who had finished were enjoying lunch and a few drinks at Southport Yacht Club, and telling tales of one of the slowest and taxing Gold Coast races for some time.

Bob Steel, owner of the 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart winner, Quest, commented: 'It was one of those races you don’t want to remember.'

Mike Green, the sailing master on Steel’s TP52 added: 'There were too many stop signs and not enough go ones,' adding: 'No matter where you positioned yourself, there was no guarantee you were going to get out of jail.' He said the whole crew had performed exceptionally. 'And we renamed Pete Messenger ‘Digger’, because he got us out of every hole.'

Steel, who plans on competing in the full Blue Water Point Score, of which the Sydney-Gold Coast is the first race, conceded: 'We need to have more confidence in our boat in light airs.'

The Celestial crew did everything they could to win this race – but there were just too many holes out there

At another table, Celestial’s owner Sam Haynes was handing out the awards. 'We had two tacticians on our boat, so that one was a hotly contested award. Macca (Steve McConaghy) won for finding breeze that didn’t exist.'

With his humour still intact, Haynes, who looks to take out second in Division two with his Rogers 46, said: 'We did everything we could to win this race and worked the yacht hard – but there were just too many holes out there – more holes than a golf course.'

Scarlet Runner’s Rob Date had at least 15 hours of ‘plip plop, plip plop – but at least the food was good.

Scarlet Runner’s owner, Rob Date, and some of his crew, including Brett Averay, Mark Witter and Tim Kenner were contemplating what they are calling their ‘world trip’. The Melbournian, whose RP52 crossed the finish line 11th, will be taking the yacht out of Australia to contest the Capetown to Rio race, Antigua Race Week and the Pacific Cup, amongst others amid some cruising and deliveries.

First, though, they will compete in the Club Marine Brisbane Keppel race, before leaving to cover around 30,000 nautical sailing miles in their travels. Date plans on returning in time to contest the 70th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart in 2014.

Of the Gold Coast race, the Victorian said: 'We had at least 15 hours of ‘plip plop, plip plop but at least the food was good.' He remembers the night before last vividly: 'We had to sail the ridge between the two highs and we’d go from 20 knots to nothing and back and forwards like that for ages. It was painful.'

Shortly before 1.00pm, Rob Carr retired Mortgage Choice Rumba (NSW) from the race. The little Northshore 370 was well back on the course off Coffs Harbour, and with time constraints due to work commitments, Carr felt he had no other option, so has pointed the bow for Coffs Harbour. His retirement makes it nine in total, with 20 yachts still racing.

The CYCA’s proven yacht tracker system is allowing family, friends and yachting enthusiasts to follow the race - and their favourite yachts - for itsduration. Each yacht is fitted with a Yellowbrick tracker that is obtaining its position using the GPS satellite network, and then transmitting that position back to Yellowbrick HQ using the Iridium satellite network.

Each yacht’s position is then visualised on the race yacht tracker map here, or overlaid on Google Earth. In addition, the yacht tracker system also shows distance to finish line and progressive corrected time positions under the IRC, ORCi and PHS handicap divisions throughout the race.

Gold Coast website