Southerly buster forecast

71 to compete at Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship

Friday November 28th 2008, Author: Lisa Ratcliffe, Location: United Kingdom
A strong 20-30 knot south west change due tomorrow afternoon, November 29, will test the mettle of this year’s Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship fleet of 71, and is sure to blow away any remaining cobwebs on board those boats lining up in less than a month’s time for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Principal Race Officer John Hurley has looked ahead to the weekend forecast and will continue to monitor an east coast low that is forming off the NSW coastline before deciding which courses and course areas will best suit the conditions.

“Thanks to the active wet weather season trough the weather is always changeable at this time of year. Over the past 30 years we’ve run this regatta in sou’easters and nor’easters and there’s always plenty of East Coast current for navigators to also factor into their race plan,” said Hurley.

Regarded as an important lead-up regatta to the Rolex Trophy and Rolex Sydney Hobart, organisers Middle Harbour Yacht Club and its race committee have the option of keeping the fleets within the confines of Sydney Harbour should the sea state deteriorate offshore with the southerly change.

“This regatta is not about slamming crew around or breaking boats pre-Hobart. We want to make sure it’s a good tune up for the Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet and we’ll be trying our best to keep the boats in one piece,” added Hurley.

The forecast for Sunday, the second and final day of the Championship, is for easing 10-20 knot SW-SE winds.

Racing for the IRC Racer class will kick off on the Manly Circle course area at 11am Saturday morning for the first of their six race series. If conditions allow, up to four windward/leewards may be raced on Saturday with any remaining races to be completed on Sunday from 11am.

The short ocean passage fleet of 41 yachts will create a colourful spectacle on an already busy Harbour when they begin their 19 miler from a start line just north of Shark Island at midday on both Saturday and Sunday.

While club boats make up an important majority of the fleet, something MHYC has worked hard to restore from previous years by introducing a passage racing option to the long standing regatta last year, this weekend will also showcase a number of Rolex Sydney Hobart IRC hopefuls preparing for their maiden attempt at the 628 nautical mile ocean classic.

Graeme Wood’s Judel/Vrolijk designed TP52 Wot Now will make its short course racing debut this weekend. The newest TP on the Sydney scene, Wot Now has contested two CYCA Blue Water Pointscore passage races but is yet to be put through its paces around the buoys. In the 2007 Rolex Sydney Hobart Syd Fischer’s TP52 Ragamuffin placed second overall, demonstrating the potential of this expanding class.
Another Hobart virgin, Peter Harburg’s Black Jack has arrived in Sydney for a month of serious blue water sailing starting with this weekend’s hit out. The RP 66 was launched mid-year and is yet to race on Sydney waters, and to test modifications that were only completed last weekend.

“Due to the forecast we’ve added a little bit of punch to get through the breeze in good shape,” said Black Jack’s skipper Mark Bradford this morning.

The Queensland boat’s star-studded crew includes North Sails’ Alby Pratt and Peter ‘Billy’ Merrington who will join winning Alinghi America’s Cup muscle men Will McCarthy and Mark McTeigue. These two AC sailors have been called up to add plenty of grunt to the grinders for the first stage of Black Jack’s shakedown for the Rolex Sydney Hobart.

“We’ve recently optimised the boat for IRC and this weekend will be first opportunity to test those modifications and start tweaking the boat for Hobart,” Bradford added.

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