For the Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race this morning, the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) predicted light variable wind forecast which provoked a lot of comment at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
With big boat sailors saying the smaller boats will benefit, while the small boat sailors say that will only happen if they are not too far behind by day two and the mid-size boat yachties say it could go to any size of boat.
Michael Logan from the BOM told competitors in the 28th edition of the CYCA’s race to 'enjoy the sunny weather' after telling them the race would a slow one – provoking loud laughter.
Bruce Taylor, Chutzpah, and Grant Wharington, Wild Thing, discuss the race prior to weather briefing at the 2013 Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race - CYCA-Staff Click Here to view large photo
The forecaster said to expect light northerlies when the race gets underway today at 1.00pm on Sydney Harbour. 'Generally,' Logan said, 'the wind will tend northerly up to 10 knots in the south part of the course and light easterlies as the fleet gets into the northern section,' of the annual 384 nautical mile race.
He went on to say that a stronger southerly will make it to the course by Wednesday, which will push the smaller boats home under spinnaker – and that is what will help the smaller boats get home quickly.
But it is not that simple, according to Kim Jaggar, the co-owner of the 25 year-old Davidson 34, Illusion, one of the smaller yachts in the fleet. 'If we don’t get too far behind in the first couple of days, we could capitalise on the southerly,' he said.
'The big boats will get the stronger northerlies (up to 10 knots) and the westerly (up to 16 knots which will push the bigger yachts quickly up the coast), and they should get away from us there,' Jaggar foretold.
'It will all come down to the transition in breeze and whether we can be in the right place at the right time. It’ll be tricky and there’ll be a bit of luck involved.'
Carl Crafoord, the navigator on the 30 metre Lahana, agrees, to a degree: 'This is a race where a lot of luck will be involved. Whoever keeps the breeze best will win. There’ll be a lot of park-ups and catch-up going on.'
Lahana’s co-owner, Peter Millard, says: 'I think it‘s one for the small boats. The last Hobart was one for the big boats, this race is one for the small boats.'
For Wild Thing’s owner, Grant Wharington, the light weather prediction was not the only disappointment: 'I have two disappointments;Wild Oats XI (the record holder) isn’t there to race against - and the weather…. I hope we have a little 10,' he said, referring to the breeze. 'Anything less would be terrible for us.'
Mark Bradford, the sailing master on Peter Harburg’s newly purchased Volvo 70, Black Jack, is also having to grapple with getting used to the new boat. 'Our biggest sail on it (the former Telefonica from the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race) so far was the delivery here from Brisbane,' he said.
'The boat was predominantly built for heavy weather reaching – and we’re not getting that. The weather models are less than ideal for us. We have the right boat sitting on the hardstand in Queensland,' he said of their former Black Jack which finished second on line in the race last year, inside the race record, which was broken by Wild Oats XI last year.
Wild Oats XI’s open record of 22hrs, 3mins, 46secs and Loki’srecord for conventional yachts of 26hrs 52mins 39sec, 43 minutes will be well and truly safe.
Sam Haynes, who owns the Rogers 46, Celestial, is ready to settle in for the long haul in the first race of the 2013 Blue Water Point Score (BWPS), the prestigious CYCA series which ends with the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart. 'It’ll come down to 'who sails best will win,' he said confidently.
Celestial, which had a bumper BWPS last season after finishing second to Loki, is one of the mid-sized boats in the fleet and has noted tactician Steve McConaghy on crew. The Sydney sailor maintains: 'the winner will come in the final hours of the race; whoever gets that lucky final puff.'
Meanwhile, aboard the rockstar 55ftWedgetail crew, world-class navigator Will Oxley was mapping out their course of action with owner Bill Wild and drivers Kevin ‘Cos’ Costin and Vanessa Dudley, fresh back from taking monohull line honours in the Transpac Race aboard Syd Fischer’s 100ft Ragamuffin.
Oxley and Costin agree with many others, who feel hugging the coast is the way to go. 'I think if you go offshore, you need to go way offshore to avoid the strong current – it could leave you vulnerable if the wind doesn’t play out according to the forecast,' he said.
It seems to be the opinion of the bulk of the fleet, but only time will tell, with the first boats not due into Southport Yacht Club until Tuesday.
The CYCA’s proven yacht tackersystem will allow family, friends and yachting enthusiasts to follow the race - and their favourite yachts -for itsduration. 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.
Each yacht’spositionisthen visualised on the race yacht tracker map via http://goldcoast.cyca.com.au,or overlaid on Google Earth.In addition, the yacht tracker system also shows distance to finish lineandprogressive corrected time positions under the IRC, ORCi and PHS handicap divisions throughout the race.
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by Jennifer Crooks
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7:08 AM Sat 27 Jul 2013GMT
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