Big Boat Excitement in 2017

Big Boat Excitement in 2017
SAILING - Land Rover Sydney to Gold Coast 2016 30/07/2015 ph. Andrea Francolini Wild Oats XI - ©Andrea Francolini

The countdown is on to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race with a potential big boat clash already whetting appetites.

The 2017 race will start at 1300 hours on Saturday 29 July, 2017 with a fleet of at least 65 expected to take in the 384 nautical mile race which concludes off Southport.

Early suggestions that open race record holder Wild Oats XI would once again compete in the landmark race have been proved correct. The 100-footer will return to race action for the first time following her disappointing retirement from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (RSHYR) 2016 where she suffered keel damage while leading the fleet.

What will certainly excite fans will be the expected competition Wild Oats XI will face in the form of Black Jack 100. Skipper Mark Bradford expects a refit on Peter Harburg’s Supermaxi to be complete in time for the race up the coast which will see the two 100-footers tussle in what should be a thrilling contest.

When it comes to the overall winner both the super maxis can expect a big challenge from the always-substantial TP52 contingent. Last year there were nine of the boats involved with Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban taking the win. A similar showing is expected in 2017 with Sam Hayne’s Celestial and Paul Clitheroe’s Balance due to feature.

Making a notable return for 2017 in that TP52 category will be Michael Spies, a veteran of the Gold Coast Race and also the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. He’ll be on board his new boat Fifty Two Hundred, formerly Cougar II, a runner up in the 2008 RSHYR.

Speaking ahead of the event in July Spies said, “It’s always an enjoyable race but unpredictable. That’s part of the charm. We expect the TP52 size group to be very competitive, there’s always a large number packed with some talented individuals. With a higher contingent that increases the odds the overall winner could come from the group and with the quality sailors on board, it increases the chances even more.”

The Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race is the first race of the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore and signals the commencement of the northern circuit of races and regattas. It starts off Nielsen Park, Vaucluse and passes landmarks such as Newcastle, Port Stephens, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Cape Byron before finishing off Main Beach, Southport.

Entries close at 1700 hours on 7 July, 2016. Online entry is available here and Notice of Race here