The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race is just a few weeks away - it starts on July 30. This race will once again see some of the Australia's best come out for glory. Fierce competition is expected between Stephen Ainsworth's Loki, the title defender, and Marcus Blackmore's Hooligan coming off a win at the Brisbane Gladstone Race.
Only one week remains before entries close in the 2011 Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, and race organiser, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, is anticipating a large fleet of 75 plus yachts will head north.
So far, 60 entries have been received for the 26th Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, with entries still flowing in.
Pirelli Celestial, owned by Sam Haynes, was the 60th entry received. The well campaigned Rogers IRC 46 was previously owned by Rob Hanna and raced as Shogun. Under his ownership, she achieved a divisional win and placed second overall under IRC in the 2007 Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race and went on to take line honours in the Melbourne Hobart race in 2008.
Under Haynes’ ownership, Pirelli Celestial won the PHS division of last year’s Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship, prompting her owner to campaign the boat in this year’s Audi IRC Australian Championship and other east coast races.
The race for overall honours should be a spell-binder, with last year’s overall winner, Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel/Pugh 63 Loki, back to defend her title against the rest, in particular Marcus Blackmore’s highly-fancied TP52 Hooligan, which comes fresh from her latest win, the Brisbane Gladstone Race.
Both are competing for the Audi IRC Australian Championship; Ainsworth as defending champion and Blackmore, his major antagonist who has been vocal about lifting the title.
The issue will come to a head at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August, where the series will be decided, but in the meantime, the two, along with others, will battle it out for points in the Audi Sydney Gold Coast race, the penultimate event of the Championship.
Other yachts in contention for the Championship and the overall prize in the Gold Coast race include the three TP52’s: Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll; Rob Hanna’s Shogun, Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin, and Jason Van Der Slot’s Calm from Victoria.
The two Cookson 50s, Colin Woods’ Pretty Fly III and Nicholas Bartels’ Terra Firma, are also in the mix, along with the Beneteaus;Balance (Paul Clitheroe), Flying Cloud (Howard Piggott) Victoire (Darryl Hodgkinson) and Wicked (Mike Welsh) which is coming up from Melbourne.
Bob Oatley’s super maxi Wild Oats XI, together with Anthony Bell’s Investec Loyal, are the two largest boat in the fleet at 100 feet (30.48m), and given the right conditions, could break the 12 year old race record of 27 hours 35 minutes 43 seconds, set by Brindabella in 1999. Peter Millard and John Honan’s 98ft Lahana will also give the record a nudge.
Andy Cochrane’s Stewart 34, Pendragon, winner of the 2005 Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, is currently the smallest boat in the fleet at 34ft (10.6m).
SAILING - Audi Sydney-Newcastle 2011 - 08/04/2011 Start in Sydney ph. Andrea Francolini/Audi WASABI
Among the entries, the combined efforts of Royal Motor Yacht Club Port Hacking and Cronulla Sailing Club entries, Steve and Connie McManus’ Beneteau First 44.7 Big Kahoona, Warren Buchan and Kristy Edwards’ Sayer 44.9 Colortile, Corinne Feldmann’s Inglis 37 MOD Stampede and Bruce McKay’s Sayer 12 Wasabi could prove to be lethal.
Spectators are welcome to watch the 1.00pm Sydney Harbour start of the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race. The 384 nautical mile course takes the fleet from the Nielsen Park start line up the Harbour and out through Sydney Heads before turning left to head to the finish line off Main Beach at Southport, Queensland.
SAILING - Audi Sydney-Newcastle 2011 - 08/04/2011 Start in Sydney ph. Andrea Francolini/Audi PIRELLI CELESTIAL
Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race website