The Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta will take place this weekend, March 5-6 and the weather forecast is set to add excitement to this annual event.
The fleet of 321 boats will be divided into 23 divisions, sailing across eight different course areas.
'The fleet size is up and it looks like there will be wind so the harbour is going to be an exciting as well as a crowded place to be,' said PRO Denis Thompson.
'The challenge is going to be courses overlapping but I’m sure the competitors have enough experience to handle it.'
Alinghi America’s Cup sailor Will McCarthy is using this weekend’s regatta as valuable time on the water in the run up to next year’s Etchells World Championship in Sydney. He’ll be sailing with three-time Olympic sailor going for a fourth, Anthony Nossiter, on the mainsheet and past 18 foot skiff world champion Chris ‘Rissole’ Cleary on the bow.
‘Perfect’ is how McCarthy sums up the forecast sou’easterly blow.
'It’s a pretty good fleet, any number of boats could win it,' said McCarthy.
'Mark Johnson (Roulette) coming off the back of his state win is going to be hard to beat, as is Rupert Henry with Vivienne.'
McCarthy, an Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta debutant, is just one of the Etchells skippers contesting this weekend’s regatta in preparation for next year’s Worlds.
There is another world championship looming and brothers Michael and Adrian Nash are just two warming up for the Yngling class international title also being staged in Sydney.
'We don’t like losing to each other,' admits Adrian, the youngest of seven boys while Michael (skipper of AUS57) is the second eldest.
Adrian, who will skipper Street Hassle, last sailed Ynglings at the 1983 world championship. It’s been a long time between drinks but he’s decided this weekend’s Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta will mark his comeback and kick start his next Worlds campaign with the same crew he sailed with nearly 30 years ago.
'We have regrouped under duress,' jokes Adrian.
'We don’t actually like sailing, only winning, and there’s a car at the end of this regatta'.
Being a mechanic, Adrian should have the edge if he makes it through to the Audi Final Drive Challenge as a divisional winner, but he says that’s no guarantee he drives as well as he fixes cars.
This weekend will be the sixth staging of one of the country’s largest keel boat regattas and event organisers are delighted the fleet size is up on last year.
A volunteer workforce of more than 100 race officials divided into ten race management teams, plus club staff and protest panels will ensure the smooth running of the event, which constitutes the second of the four-part Audi IRC Australian Championship.
Race director Peter Hemery says without the support of many Sydney clubs involved - the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Manly Yacht Club, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club, Royal Australian Naval Sailing Association, Sydney Flying Squadron and Sydney Amateur Sailing Club - all offering race management assets and resources, Middle Harbour Yacht Club couldn’t host such a big fleet.
The IRC divisions will race windward/leewards offshore on both days and the Ocean Passage Series division will be sent on a short ocean race with the course to be decided on the day, depending on the forecast. The rest of the divisions will race within Sydney Harbour, providing a great spectacle for the regular weekend harbour traffic and those out enjoying the early autumn weather along the foreshore.
Other classes competing include the historic 18ft skiffs, Flying Tigers, Adams 10’s, Dragons, J24’s, Melges 24’s, SB3s, Cavalier 28’s, production boats and classics.
The regatta will get underway on Saturday with a BBQ breakfast at MHYC from 8am. The first races of the series are scheduled to get underway following an 1125hrs warning signal for the inshore fleets and 1155hrs warning signal for the offshore fleet.
On Monday 7 March the ‘Audi Final Drive Challenge’ will put the divisional winners on the asphalt at Eastern Creek Raceway. The sailors will put their driving skills to the test in an Audi RS 5 coupé on a course specially designed by Audi Ambassador Brad Jones. The Audi Final Drive Challenge winner will be presented with the keys to the Audi A1 at the official prize presentation to be held at MHYC that evening.
Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta - www.audisydneyharbourregatta.com
Audi IRC Australian Championship visit - www.irc.yachting.org.au The Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta is the largest, competitive keelboat regatta in Australia. It is presented by Audi and hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club and offers an Audi A1 to the winner of the Audi Final Drive Challenge.
Inaugurated in 1996, racing is open to all Australian and International yachts, from IRC and PHS racing and cruising classes to the very popular international classes and is conducted on the waters of Sydney Harbour and offshore for the IRC grand prix yachts.