With the start of the Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race less than 48 hours away, the Bureau of Meteorology has issued its weather forecast for the third edition of the race.
Jane Golding, Manager Weather Services for the Bureau of Meteorology delivered the forecast of light to moderate northwest to northeast breezes for both Friday and Saturday. Crews will have to work hard with winds on the nose all the way up to the turning mark at Crowdy Head.
Conditions will be fine and sunny with no thunderstorms predicted. In the afternoon of Friday and Saturday, crews can expect the breezes to shift to the nor’east reaching a maximum speed of 20 knots. Overnight, the wind will decrease to 5 knots.
For the current race record holder, Stephen Ainsworth and his Reichel Pugh 63 Loki, the race will be a lot slower than last year, which means his record of 15 hrs, 57 mins and 53 seconds could stay in tact for another year. “I think our record is safe for another year – it will be a slog to get up to the Crowdy Head mark,” he said after attending the race briefing this evening. “The danger is going to be in the early hours of Saturday morning approaching the coast. I am predicting that we will finish about lunchtime Saturday, based on the weather.”
The Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race commences at 12 noon on Friday 19 March with a fleet of 25 taking to the start just off Steele Point; and is the last race in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s offshore season 2009/10.
The race is also the last race of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Blue Water Pointscore. Only four points separate the top five yachts which include the TP52s Ragamuffin (Syd Fischer) and Quest (Bob Steel), Ed Psaltis & Bob Thomas’ modified Farr 40 AFR Midnight Rambler, Geoff Ross’ RP55 Yendys and Loki, all sailing under the CYCA burgee.
For Mike Green, sailing master on Quest, it’s going to be a lottery. “Based on what we’ve heard tonight, we don’t know what is going to happen out there. The land breeze will be a big influence on our finish time. We’ll be sailing our own race but always being watchful of Ragamuffin. The big decision will be if we decide to breakaway and go a little further offshore or not; and I’m sure Bob and I will discuss this at length."
Withdrawals from the original fleet of 30, at the close of entries include Bob Oatley’s RP66 Wild Oats X, Bruce Mackay’s Sayer 12 Wasabi, Greg Zyner’s Radford 12 Copernicus, Ian Creak’s Beneteau 47 Audi Central Coast and Nick Johnston’s Lidgard 50 Santana III.
The 213 nautical mile Category 2 race starts in Sydney Harbour at 12 noon on Friday 19 March and takes the fleet to a laid mark around 20 nautical miles east of Crowdy Head before the yachts head for Newcastle and the finish in the Hunter River.