Lively start

Skandia leads the charge in the Sydney-Gold Coast Yacht Race, reports Bruce Montgomery

Saturday April 1st 2006, Author: Bruce Montgomery, Location: Australasia
Grant Wharington’s 98 foot maxi Skandia, with his V70 Brunel crew and two Dutch would-be crew members aboard led the fleet at record pace in the Sydney-Gold Coast Yacht Race record that started at 1300 local time 0200 GMT today.

In a freshening sou’wester Skandia took only 10 minutes to clear North Head and turn left for Queensland.

“Boy, am I glad we are not turning right and heading for Hobart,” said navigator Will Oxley. Hobart, reports our man down there, has snow on the mountain, drizzle and its first frosts of the autumn.

A fleet of 42 started the 386 nautical mile race, though Nick De Laine’s new Stomp 38, Stomp, contesting its first race broke her rudder in the harbour.

Skandia was followed out of the heads by Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki, John Woodruff’s Seriously TEN, Steven David’s Wild Joe.

It promises to be an exciting night for the fleet with up to 40 knot winds reported on the course. Wharington is aiming to break the race record of 27 hours 35 minutes three seconds set by George Snow’s Brindabella in 1999.

Mark van Gelderen (34) and Edward van Lierde (30) are the two Dutch sailors who have joined the crew of Skandia. Wharington will choose one of them to join the Brunel crew, when it rejoins the Volvo Ocean Race in Baltimore.Great Xpectations

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