In the 28th edition of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race it will be a slow ride all the way to Queensland for the 47 competitors, according to Michael Logan from the Bureau of Meteorology, who delivered the weather forecast at the official race briefing at the Club last evening.
Logan, the Bureau’s Acting NSW Manager Weather Services, predicted light and variable winds for the entire race period and participating yacht owners and navigators agree it will be a slow and tactical race.
Competitors can expect light northerlies when the race gets underway tomorrow (Saturday) at 1.00pm on Sydney Harbour, but at least the day will be sunny.
Winds will remain northerly on the southern part of the course, but as the fleet moves up the coast, easterly breezes will roll in. In such light variable winds the race will be wide open.
With Wild Oats XI, the open race record holder having withdrawn, and Loki, the defending champion and holder of the record for a conventional keel yacht absent from the start list, the honours for first over the line and to win the race overall, are wide open.
However, there is little chance of Wild Oats XI record of 22hrs, 3mins, 46secs being broken, given the weather models. The same can be said for Loki’s 26hrs 52mins 39sec, 43 minutes record.
Navigators and tacticians will have their work cut out, with the decision to stay close to the shoreline or to go offshore a critical one, while drivers will need to stay on the ball to get every inch out of their boats.
World-class navigator, Will Oxley, will do duties aboard Bill Wild’s Reichel/Pugh 55, Wedgetail. The multiple Volvo Ocean Race navigator and 2010 CYCA Navigator of the Year recently returned from a sailing stint in the USA. He will step aboard the yacht he knows only too well, having navigated the former Yendys, a number of times.
'There are a couple of critical transitions that will make or break competitors; the first will be on Saturday afternoon moving into the evening. Managing the first night at sea will be all-important. The second will be Sunday morning as the boats move from the overnight land breeze into whatever breeze there is,' Oxley said.
'There looks to be plenty of current offshore, but for those who want to roll the dice and take the offshore route, they will need to commit early and go out further than I’ve see anyone go out in this race ever,' added Oxley, whose ride is one of the contenders for the overall win.
Mike Green, watch captain aboard Bob Steel’s all-winning TP52 Quest, echoed Oxley’s thoughts. 'It depends on how you position yourself in the ridge as to how this race pans out.'
Quest will be one to watch, as Steel and Green have been able to re-assemble their 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart winning crew.
In the 40 footers, Warwick Sherman, owner/skipper of the Ker 43, Occasional Coarse Language Too, is hoping to be amongst it: 'If the breeze stays in, it’ll be a good race,' he maintained.
'We worked out how to make the boat less sticky in lighter airs; we just have to not put a foot wrong and be on the right side of everything.'
OCL Too has a healthy rivalry with Midnight Rambler, Ed Psaltis, Bob Thomas and Michael Bencsik’s Ker 40 and navigator Thomas predicts that: 'the westerlies at night will get us up and moving, but we’ll be going nowhere in the daytime.'
There isn’t much joy for the big boats, Queensland’s Wild Thing (Grant Wharington) and Lahana (Peter Millard and John Honan) from NSW. Millard laughingly commented: 'We’ll get value for money for a few days at sea.
'It will be a tactical race – we’ll have our work cut out for us with Wild Thing and the new Black Jack (Peter Harburg’s recently purchased VOR70 formerly known as Telefonica) – those boys will be pushing hard.'
Millard also noted it would be a race for the smaller boats. 'The bigger boats took all the honours in the last Hobart race; this one will be one for the smaller yachts,' he predicted.
Andrew Wenham, new owner of the Jones 70 Southern Excellence II (the former Ichi Ban), indicated his weather modelling shows a worst case scenario of two days and 18 hours to reach the finish line off Main Beach in Southport. 'I thought this year’s Gosford Lord Howe Island race was tough, but this could be even tougher,' he said.
The Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race starts off Nielsen Park at Vaucluse tomorrow, Saturday 27 July at 1.00pm. The 384 nautical mile course takes the yachts down Sydney Harbour and out through Sydney Heads, before turning left towards the finish line in 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 that position back to Yellowbrick HQ using the Iridium satellite network.
Gold Coast website
by Jennifer Crooks
Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall
3:02 AM Fri 26 Jul 2013GMT
Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.