Entries for the 28th edition of the Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race close in two weeks. The fleet currently stands at 47 yachts for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s annual winter passage north
Volvo 70 Southern Excellence II
Queenslander Mark Bradford will helm the Volvo 70 Black Jack which Peter Harburg purchased earlier this year.
Previously raced as Telefonica in last year’s Volvo Ocean Race (where she won the first three legs and finished fourth overall), Harburg had the boat shipped to Australia where it has undergone some modifications to bring her in line with Australian standards.
'The boat was purchased with the idea of racing closer to the top end of the fleet and shortening the gap to the super maxis,' Mark Bradford said. 'We think the boat will rate well under IRC but we’re also thinking of line honours too.
'One of the main reasons for purchasing the boat was that it was manageable and Peter (Harburg) could run the program he wanted to for the size of boat that we have – doing it properly with the right people and the right equipment.
'We’ve brought a couple of Volvo specialists into the crew for this race including Ryan Godfrey (ex-Puma) but it’s essentially our core crew from the 66 footer,' Bradford added.
Black Jack will be officially launched this Friday and will then complete her sea trials before being sailed to Sydney for the start of the Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race. 'We’re looking forward to the next 12-18 months racing against other Volvo 70s including Calm 2, the former Camper, now owned by Victorian Jason Van der Slot,' Bradford added.
Another Volvo 70 that Black Jack will tussle with will be CYCA Director Andrew Wenham’s Southern Excellence II, the former Ichi Ban. Whilst it’s a little older, Wenham still thinks Southern Excellence II will be competitive against the newer Volvo 70 and Jim Cooney’s Jutson 80 Brindabella.
'The Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race is an integral part of our Blue Water Pointscore Series campaign. It will be good to race against Black Jack and see how we fare – they might beat us on line honours but I think our rating (IRC) is better,' Wenham said.
'I’m looking forward to the race north. Hopefully we get more breeze than we did in the Gosford Lord Howe Island race otherwise I think I might have a mutiny on my hands.'
Southern Excellence II took line honours in this year’s Gosford Lord Howe Island yacht race in a time of 63 hours, 45minutes and 22 seconds; which was one of the longest in the race’s recent history marred by light and fluky winds.
Audi Sydney to Gold Coast 2012 - start in Sydney
Since taking ownership in March this year, Wenham had upgraded a number of systems on the boat to improve her IRC rating and to suit his requirements.
Rod Jones, a two-time Australian IRC champion and one of three Queensland entrants, will bring his Welbourn 50 Audi Sunshine Coast to the start line. Built in Gosford and originally launched as Heaven Can Wait, Jones has optimised and tweaked Audi Sunshine Coast. In this year’s protracted Gosford Lord Howe Island Yacht Race, Jones finished third on line and won the PHS division.
Jones will do battle with other 50 footers such as Bob Steel’s TP52 Quest, representing the host club, Wayne Keavy’s Elliott 52 Upshot, Victorian Robert Date’s RP52 Scarlet Runner and Darryl Hodgkinson’s Cookson 50 Victoire, the former Jazz.
Hodgkinson, the 2012 CYCA Ocean Racer of the Year, with his ‘new’ Victoire and last year’s Blue Water Pointscore Series runner up and winner of the Cape Byron Series (ORCi division of the BWPS) Sam Haynes’ Rogers 46 Celestial, are short-priced favourites to win the CYCA’s 2013 Blue Water Pointscore Series, which commences with the Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race.
Last year, Bob Oatley’s super maxi Wild Oats XI took her third consecutive line honours win and set a new race record of 22 hours, 3 minutes and 46 seconds.
At the other end of the scale, Kim Jaggar and Travis Read’s Davidson 34 Illusion is the smallest boat so far in a fleet that represents the best from NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
The Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race will start on Sydney Harbour at 1pm, Saturday 27 July, off Nielsen Park at Vaucluse. The course takes the fleet down the Harbour and out through Sydney Heads, before turning left towards the finish line off Main Beach at Southport, on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Entry can be completed online until 1700 hours on Friday 12 July by logging on to: http://goldcoast.cyca.com.au/competitors/online-race-entry/