Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race entrant The Stick is power sailing into the Tasman Sea this afternoon, three hours after the start of the Hempel 38th Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race in Broken Bay.
By far the biggest boat in the fleet, the modified Open 66 that previously raced as Broomstick, won the start and quickly established a commanding leading as the fleet carried shy spinnakers up the New South Wales Central Coast to the marking mark off Terrigal.
Three hours after the 1300 hours (1pm) start, The Stick had sailed 20 nautical miles and was five nautical miles ahead of the fleet, sailing on an easterly course, but below the rhumbline.
The 414 nautical race started in only 5-6 knots of breeze that backed to the north-west just before NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher sent the fleet on its way from the water police launch Nemesis.
The change in wind direction enabled most yachts to quickly hoist shy spinnakers and with a fast ebbing tide they were quickly clear of Broken Bay. Late this afternoon the breeze had picked up to 10 knots out to sea.
The Stick, skippered by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia member Richard Christian, led the eight boat fleet around the Terrigal mark, immediately gybing on to an easterly course, running under spinnaker out to sea.
Second placed Icefire, skippered by Peter Tucker, also from the CYCA, chose to continue heading north along the Central Coast before gybing, followed by former Sydney Hobart winner Midnight Rambler, skippered by James Cameron from Drummoyne Sailing Club.
Astern of these three boats, came Frantic (Michael Martin) from the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club, Quetzalcoatl (Anthony Sweetapple) from the NSW, Copernicus (Greg Zyner) from Manly Yacht Club. Bringing up the rear of the fleet were Wild Rose, skippered by Roger Hickman from the CYCA and the veteran Polaris of Belmont, skippered by Chris Dawe from the Gosford Sailing Club.