At the close of entries for the 28th Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, Bob Oatley’s line honours record holder Wild Oats XI will head the chase, while a high calibre fleet of fifty, will contend for the main trophy, awarded to the overall winner of the annual 384 nautical mile dash north to warmer waters.
Should the weather favour the smaller yachts in the fleet, Midnight Rambler will be hard to beat
As defending overall champion, Loki (Stephen Ainsworth), will not be on the start line, the field is wild open in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s first Bluewater Pointscore offshore race of the season, which starts on Sydney Harbour at 1.00pm on Saturday 27 July
Among the contenders are Ed Psaltis, Bob Thomas and Michael Bencsik with their near two year-old Ker 40, Midnight Rambler. The trio won the 2009 race with a previous yacht, and with a proven offshore track record, should the weather favour the smaller yachts in the fleet, the trio will be hard to beat.
'We’re keen to better our divisional win from last year’s race – we’re aiming for the overall win. We’re confident in the boat’s speed in both light and heavy conditions,' said Bencsik who co-owns the yacht that finished second overall in the recent light-air Gosford Lord Howe Island Yacht Race.
'We’ve got some great competitors in the 40-50 foot section of the fleet and we’re hoping for some great tactical racing, rather than the downhill sled we had last year,' he said.
'We know the race track really well, and over the last 18 months we’ve got to know the boat better. It’s as tuned as it can be, so we’re just hoping for favourable weather. This is the start of our Blue Water (Point Score) campaign and we want to improve on our third place from last season.
SAILING - Audi Sydney to Gold Coast 2012 - start in Sydney ph. Andrea Francolini OCCASIONAL COARSE LANGUAGE
'We’re looking forward to renewing our rivalry against Occasional Coarse Language Too (Warwick Sherman’s Ker 43) and competing against Quest (Bob Steel’s 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winning TP52), the new Victoire (Darryl Hodgkinson’s Cookson 50 which was formerly Jazz) and Celestial (Sam Haynes’ Rogers 46 which finished second to Loki in the 2012 Blue Water Point Score).'
Meanwhile, Warwick Sherman, who has assembled a gun crew to sail OCL Too commented: 'It’s a big call to follow on from our divisional win in the Hobart race. I’ve got no expectations.
'There’s some great talent in the field, and some unknowns, such as Steven Proud’s new Swish (a Kernan 44). There’ll be a lot of pressure on a lot of boats not to put a foot wrong,' he said.
'There’ll probably be a lot of testosterone on the start line – probably some pushing and shoving too – but we don’t want to get to silly too early as there’s still 384 nautical miles to go,' Sherman chuckled.
One of the other relative unknowns is well-named Black Sheep, purchased earlier this year by the Sheppard brothers, Derek and Martin. The Beneteau 45 was previously known as Honeysuckle and this will be her first offshore race with the Sheppards.
The brothers recently secured a divisional victory in the CYCA Winter Series over seasoned competitors such as OCL Too, Kerisma (Grant Dawson and Brett Lawson’s Ker 11.3) and Balance (Paul Clitheroe’s Beneteau 45), whom they will battle with again in this race.
'The CYCA Winter Series was a good learning experience for us and put us in great shape in lead up to this race,' Derek Sheppard said.
'The crew was assembled from three boats we’ve previously sailed on, including St Jude and Kahoona. We’ve had a lot of fun learning how to sail our boat.'
SAILING - SOLAS Big Boat Challenge 2010 - Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Sydney - 14/12/10 ph. Andrea Francolini in the picture: RODD & GUNN WEDGETAIL
In the 50 footers, Queenslander Bill Wild returned to ocean racing earlier this year after an 18 month break with his RP55 Wedgetail. Wild has upped the stakes adding Loki’s navigator Michael Bellingham and it’s boat manager, Darryl ‘Dags’ Senogles to the crew. Other big names aboard are Neil Pryde, the Hong Kong based yachtsman/designer and Queensland names Kevin Costin and Ian ‘Ox’ Davis.
Commenting on the entries, CYCA Commodore Howard Piggott said, 'We’ve assembled a highly competitive fleet for this year’s Sydney Gold Coast yacht Race, proving its popularity as a winter escape and a feeder race to other northern regattas, such as Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. There will be a really interesting battle to see who’ll be crowned this year’s overall winner.'
Spectators are welcome to watch the start of the Sydney Gold Coast yacht race. The course takes the fleet down the Harbour and out through Sydney Heads, before turning left to head to the finish line off Main Beach at Southport, Queensland.
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 the position back to Yellowbrick HQ using the Iridium satellite network.
Each yacht’s position is then visualised on the race yacht tracker map, 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.
MV Coast is the official spectator vessel for this race and tickets are still available so book your spot now by contacting Mark on 0458 888 830 or Kate 0458 888 831.
For more information log on to the Event website