Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race - On to Rolex Sydney Hobart

Polaris of Belmont - Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race 2011
In the Hempel 38th Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race, all but one of the eight yachts that contested have been nominated for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, including the line honours winner The Stick and handicap division winners Wild Rose (IRC) and Quetzalcoatl (PHS).

The 414 nautical mile race across the northern Tasman Sea is the only annual category one ocean race in Australia other than the Sydney Hobart and is also a qualifier for the race to Tasmania.

Race director Bob Swan from Gosford Sailing Club is expected to confirm results later today with all eight starters now anchored in the pristine coral lagoon at Lord Howe Island.

Victory in the IRC division has gone to Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose and in the PHS division to Antony Sweetapple’s Quetzalcoatl, with The Stick taking line honours.

Although last to finish, at 04:19 hours this morning, Polaris of Belmont, a Cole 43 built at Gosford 40 years ago, placed second on corrected time in the PHS division, which she won twice between 1997 and 2010.

Now owned by Chris Dawe, Polaris of Belmont, competed in the inaugural Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race in 1974 and has contested many races to the island since then, although there are no records to show exactly how many. She has, however, been raced to Hobart 26 times with Dawe lodging an application to enter once more on the eve of the start of the race to Lord Howe Island.

The other yachts nominated for the Rolex Sydney Hobart are line honours winner The Stick, IRC handicap winner Wild Rose, PHS winner Quetzalcoatl, Copernicus, Icefire and Midnight Rambler, the Hick 34 which won the 1998 Sydney Hobart on corrected time.

Now owned by James Cameron from Drummoyne Sailing Club, Midnight Rambler was second last boat to reach Lord Howe Island, placing fourth in the IRC division.

Roger Hickman, owner/skipper of Wild Rose, ranks as one of Australia’s most experienced and successful ocean racing yachtsmen, with three wins in the Sydney Hobart Race and successes in most other races along the East Coast.

This year’s Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race was the first as skipper in this event for Roger Hickman and the first for Wild Rose, a Farr 43 which won the IOR division of the 1993 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race when called Wild Oats. Hickman, a prominent member of the Cruising Yacht Club, co-skippered Wild Rose (then Wild Oats) to victory in the 1993 Sydney Hobart and was sailing master for different owners on two wins by Ausmaid, in 1966 and 1993. A versatile yachtsman, he also races an International Etchells with the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron fleet and crews in an International Dragon in major events.

Wild Rose reached Lord Howe Island at 19:01:50 last evening, provisionally winning more than two hours on corrected time from Greg Zyner’s Radford 12 Copernicus from Manly Yacht Club. In third place is Peter Tucker’s Mummery 45 Icefire, also from the CYCA which second in fleet to The Stick.

The 66-footer The Stick, skippered by Richard Christian, also from the CYCA, led the fleet across the finish line at 08:19:35 yesterday with Icefire finishing mid afternoon, at 15:05:25.

CYCA boats continued their success in the PHS division, with Antony Sweetapple’s Don Jones-designed 40-footer Quetzalcoatl, provisionally taking top honours from Polaris of Belmont, third place going to The Stick.