Running and reaching conditions generally prevail in the Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race. A typical Sydney Gold Coast Race start on Sydney Harbour would see a fresh southerly breeze and a sudden hoisting of spinnakers as the fleet hits the start line at 1.00pm.
- SAILING - Audi Sydney to Gold Coast 2012 - start in Sydney ph. Andrea Francolini FLEET
- SAILING - Audi Sydney to Gold Coast 2012 - start in Sydney ph. Andrea Francolini BRINDABELLA
- SAILING - Audi Sydney to Gold Coast 2012 - start in Sydney ph. Andrea Francolini LOVE & WAR
Once the yachts have made their way out of Sydney Harbour they might enjoy a spinnaker ride north during the afternoon before the wind patterns shift to the westerly night land breeze bringing cold reaching conditions.
As an offshore race, the Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race is a demanding event, requiring experienced helming skills, particularly in the hard running conditions often experienced at this time of the year, first class sail handling, and good tactical navigation decisions.
Apart from variable winds, in direction and strength, the East Australian Current plays a significant role in decision making as the yachts sail up the NSW North Coast to the Gold Coast of Southern Queensland. At times, it is very much a "rock-hopping" race as yachts hug the coast to avoid the current.
Weather conditions have varied over the years but one of the wildest was the 1988 race. It started in heavy weather, with some spectacular broaches within Sydney Harbour and at the Heads. There were many retirements before the Queensland pocket max Hammer of Queensland, skippered by the late Arthur Bloore, took line honours in winds of 45 knots and Pemberton III, skippered by Richard Hudson, was declared overall winner. Hudson, also to later become a Commodore of RPAYC, won again with Pemberton II in 1990.
The 1991 and 1992 races were marked by light winds, Peter Walker's Amazon took 60 hours 19 minutes 42 seconds to sail the course in 1991, 15 minutes longer the next year. The Kel Steinman-designed Amazon went on to take line honours twice more (1993 and 1997) before being destroyed by fire at the CYCA marina.
The winter sou'westers and southerlies were stronger over the next few years, with the famous international maxi, Condor of Currabubula, then owned by Tamworth grain grower Tony Paolo, getting the gun in 1994.
Heavy weather along the New South Wales North Coast forced the CYCA to postpone the start of the 2001 Sydney Gold Coast Race three times for safety reasons. The fleet, reduced to 53 by many withdrawals, eventually got away at 10:00 hours on the Monday, 30 July, instead of the previous Saturday, 28 July.