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Battles raging in Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race

by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia 27 Jul 2019 22:17 PDT 27 July 2019
Wild Oats X appears likely to take line honours in the 2019 Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race - but many battles are still unfolding © Andrea Francolini

Contrary to the pre-forecast for light winds, the Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race fleet is making excellent time up the NSW coast and the Oatley family's race leader, Wild Oats X, is due to finish the 35th edition of the bluewater classic before midnight tonight, July 28, 2019.

Wild Oats X's navigator Adrienne Calahan reported at 0815hrs on Sunday: "We have just passed Smoky Cape on a beautiful clear-sky morning, however not much time to contemplate the view as we are in a battle with No Limit and Chinese Whisper who are on our tail enjoying the reaching conditions."

Shifting southerly winds overnight kept crews busy, skipper of the current IRC front-runner Envy Scooters, Barry Cuneo, reporting very little sleep since the start on Sydney Harbour at 1pm Saturday, as the Queensland TP52 battles to stay ahead of the strong 52 pack on IRC handicap. "We are amazed but very happy to be right amongst the 60 footers and well in front of the TP52 fleet," the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron's latest Commodore said.

Sailing master on David Gotze's RP63 No Limit, Dave Allen, says the crew of 17 are in a rhythm of three watches of 3hrs on, 3hrs on standby and 3hrs off. The Sydney boat is currently running second, a few miles behind Wild Oats and in 17kts of southerly pressure when Allen shared an update: "Oats is dead ahead. Barney (Ian Walker) reckons we are running them down. We got within half a mile last night, we gave them a tickle."

Running northwards last evening, No Limit enjoyed the company of dolphins lit up by phosphorescence.

Race sponsor Sean Langman, the head of Noakes Group, and his RP65 Naval Group lost some ground when they missed a shift at 0300hrs this morning, though navigator Josh Alexander reports "morale remains high as we charge along to catch up".

While the 60-footers and the TPs chew threw the miles remaining between them and the Gold Coast's Main Beach finish line, the smaller and heavier boats that don't plane in running and reaching breezes are settled in for a very pleasant day two.

Onboard Phillip Neil's beautiful Hoek 78 Oroton Drumfire, named after a long-distance race horse, crewman Lachie Paramour shared some humour from first night at sea: "We started by watching the All Blacks vs Springboks rugby on satellite TV (of course) before a lamb ragu dinner. The on-watch did a good job of keeping the boat rumbling and picking up a few places before the half-time change over. We had a small wave splash over the bow about two hours ago and the crew are highly concerned that this may happen again, and that we may run the risk of someone getting their feet wet."

Supernova has been forced to retire, succumbing to a broken rudder bearing at lunchtime on Sunday. All on board are ok, headed for Port Macquarie.

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