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Fast run for Audi Sydney - Newcastle Yacht Race

'RAGAMUFFIN Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta 2008,

Syd Fischer’s TP52 is currently leading CYCA Blue Water Pointscore by 3 points from Wot Yot'    © Andrea Francolini / Audi

With less than four days to the start of the final event of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's offshore season for 2007-08, the Bureau of Meteorology has released its long range forecast for the inaugural Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race with a fast overnight run predicted.

The Bureau's manager of weather services, Rob Webb, is anticipating a S/SE change will pass through Sydney during Friday, 7 March, creating the likelihood of a spinnaker start in Sydney Harbour at 6pm that evening in a 15-20 knot following breeze.

'This breeze should be maintained offshore through the night and 15-20 knot SE winds should see in the start of Saturday before an easing trend during the day.

'By late Friday a shower or two will have redeveloped in Sydney behind the change and these will extend north overnight. We're not expecting too much in the way of rainfall,' Webb added.

Moderate to fresh overnight offshore winds is exactly the sort of forecast that brings a wry smile to the faces of the TP52 crews. And there are two of them going head to head this Friday to determine who will be crowned CYCA Blue Water Pointscore (BWPS) Champion. Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin is currently holding onto first place by three points while Graeme Wood's Wot Yot is ready to apply plenty of heat as Wood vies for his first Championship title against Fischer's eight.

'Normally heading north we try to stay between the beach and the current but if it's blowing hard, it doesn't really matter where you are,' said Fischer today when quizzed on his pre-race tactics.

Saturday's easing trend is not good news for the smaller end of the Audi Sydney Offshore fleet as they will be retracing their path, having rounded the Crowdy Head laid mark, and will be pushing into a soft head wind as they head back south to Newcastle.

The Ocean Pointscore fleet, which will set sail from Sydney Harbour at 9am Saturday morning to join their Blue Water colleagues in Newcastle, look set for a leisurely ride north with the change well and truly through by Saturday. Based on the forecast, boats from both fleets could be finishing in the Hunter River well into Saturday evening and possibly into Sunday morning.

Some movement in the Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race list of entries has left a quality fleet of 18 to contest the last of the seven-race 2007-08 BWPS.

One of the withdrawals was Matt Allen's Ichi Ban, which was reluctantly pulled from the starter's list following a delay in the arrival of new mast fittings. The crew has run out of time to put the Jones 70's rig back in and test the mast before heading offshore. The issue was compounded by the fact that most of Allen's crew were in Dubai with him last week for the Maktoum Sailing Trophy, which they won sailing a Beneteau 44.7 also called Ichi Ban.

Based on the long range forecast, the first boat, likely to be ASM Brindabella, is expected to take line honours in the 213 nautical mile race early Saturday afternoon.

To follow the fleet during the Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race go to Yacht Tracker on the official website

by Lisa Ratcliff


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6:27 AM Tue 4 Mar 2008 GMT

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