Sydney Mackay Yacht Race!
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Home Page The crew's Skandia Living Doll AFR Midnight Rambler
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The CYCA, Sydney The MYC, Mackay Mackay Marina, Port Binli
The Race Begins..... The full report from a crusing sailors perspective, beginning with a few details from a sample of the fleet involved.
by Bob Norson
The race will start in another 30 minutes or so and it should be a beaut of a spectacle as the fleet makes for the heads out of Sydney. 10 knots from the west should see these light weight performers making decent knots with spinnakers flying to the delight of spectators and photographers. The light conditions are the topic and crew shortages the handicap. After months (or so it seems) of 20-30 knots sou-east the weather pattern broke and the prospect of possibly spending 9 days at sea to make it to Mackay instead of the 4 in good wind, has been a hardship for some of the boats. Most crew are non-paid and have jobs and other annoyances that interfere with their sailing. If any of the big, highly strung racing machines get into strife with a short and/or inexperienced crew the damage could be awesome. The ship and crew could be in danger so a prudent skipper must bow out. Also the skippers have to deal with the provisioning issue, trying to guess how much weight in food is the minimum requirement!
The fleet that is doing the lot, all the way to Mackay is a varied bunch of boats. At 98 feet, Skandia is undoubtedly the fastest in any reasonable kind of wind. With that kind of waterline and a rig to match the race is hers to loose. Any boat that could exploit a fluke to get by her would be a hero at the end but no one will give anything but a shrug for her expected line victory. If conditions picked up (which I doubt very much) I think she might press pretty hard to try for a speed record that may last a while but otherwise I think it will be a relatively fast delivery. Don't break anything and in process, let a slower boat sneak in before you!
I did a few quick interviews yesterday to try to get a feel for the personalities and prospects of the race and here are some tid-bits;
Infinity III, Farr 65. Talked to Martin James and he reported that he had to back the boat out of the event at the last minute. He expressed considerable disappointment as he was keen on the race and hopes to have a go next year. He runs a crew of 18 for Hobart but would have been satisfied with 13 for Mackay and still couldn't quite get there. Surprisingly, he was intending the Mackay race only and then doubling back to Sydney instead of using the race as a delivery for Hammo. He said he has done Hammo for ten years and has had enough of it!
Hasta La Vista, Sydney 38. Talked to Peter Voight, skipper of the only 38 to drive all the way north. He didn't express much interest in strategy except more wind is better! I got the impression he just wants to sail her hard and see what happens. He did threaten to hitch a tow rope to Skandia!
Wild Joe, Riechel Pugh 60. Talked to Steven David just as he had had to make the decision to back out, crew shortage the problem. Some of his regulars were tied up in New York, crewing a big race there. He had had 4 to 5 crew changes in as many days and it just began to look too wobbly. He will still get the boat north but it will be a short handed delivery stroll to get there in one piece and ready to compete at Hammo.
Alacrity, Beneteau 44.7. Matthew Percy is the skipper of this unruly Queensland mob. He figures the best conditions will be 3 knots on the nose! Nearly serious for a split second, he said his boat was good in light airs and windward. They will carry a crew of 8 but would have preferred one more.
Living Doll, Cookson 50. Michael Hiatt figures to work close in as well. He says the boat works well in light airs and if the trade winds came in at 20 kts, he would not mind that either as the surfing might keep him in sight of the big Skandia but if the winds hang around the 10+ to mid teens Skandia's water line will be nearly unbeatable. He reckons XLR8 will be the boat they sail with and against in a friendly rivalry.
Tow Truck, Mum 30. I admit a natural tendency to look for the underdog in any thing and TT's short water line gives it the title in this race. Anthony Patterson's little boat is a respected design and should out perform the numbers but he is still 6 feet under the next smallest boat, Local Hero at 36 feet and 8 feet under the next smallest Mackay entered boat, the Sydney 38, Hasta La Vista. He could pass for Skandia's dinghy! He tried working offshore before when things were light for a Southport race and it worked for a while and then failed . Rock Hopping is the ambition this time. He'll try to stay in touch with the 38's. He's hoping for running breezes of any kind, a reach or windward will be tougher on the little boat. Anthony brought the crew down from a normal 7 to 6 to allow weight for provisions.