By PC Bruce Taylor
The Sydney Gold Coast race run in late July is promoted as the precursor to the Christmas Sydney Hobart race. Whilst the fleets are similar the races are significantly different.
In winter, high pressure systems park over the Qld/NSW border creating Westerly gales in Victoria, warm SE trades in Qld but soft variable conditions over the NSW coast. Quite different to the summer pattern in Southern Australia of building Northlies followed by Southerly fronts.
However a common feature is the strong East Australian current running at up to 4 knots from North to South down the coast.
Nevertheless Chutzpah used the race this year as a form of preparation for the Christmas bash to Hobart. She is a Reichel Pugh 40 footer developed for downwind conditions and crewed mainly with Royal members including Gavin Gourley, James Permezel, Blake Anderson, Kingsley Piesse , Jim Conway and Bruce Taylor.
The fleet of 59 comprised the best in Australia including 4 of the Worlds 100 footers. On handicap the dozen TP 52s appeared the greatest threat along with 2 time winner Azzurro a 30 year old S&S34, and our old nemesis, the 40 foot Ker Midnight Rambler now name Showtime by her new owners.
The big boats are relatively effected less by the adverse current so tend to straight line along the rhumb whereas the slower have to balance the wind shifts and the current resulting in most of them rock hoping along the beach.
Due to a lack of wind the start in Sydney Harbour was delayed for almost an hour and we finally reached away on Starboard in 5Kts with a good exit at the boat end.
A long afternoon beating into a light NE morphed into an equally slow evening but we managed to hang on to the other similar sized boats.
With clear cold nights and warm water, offshore land breeze is a common feature which the weather modeling seldom identifies but we have previously experienced. The first night the computer was right and we flopped offshore along banging the current whilst those on the beach were even slower. The following day seeking wind and avoiding current had us in and out of bays and headlands managing to hang on to bigger boats. In the evening we went seeking the land breeze but alas we parked with a group on the beach and in very light air slipped away into a building reaching wind.
Late afternoon Showtime was a couple of miles ahead straight lining to the finish and we tacked off to the beach looking for the evening breeze.
Whilst discussing which God we should pray to Huey delivered with a whiff of smoke at 2000 heralding the offshore gas.
In the past year we have been working hard with Doyle’s developing reaching sails and set ups. It was time well spent as we now had boat speeds in the teens in flat water on the beach whilst those out to sea had little wind and plenty of adverse current.
Unfortunately the around 2200 hrs the owner was informed we needed to finish by 0140 to beat those already in.
Fortunately it was a very cold night and the wind held in and we crossed the line at 0129.
A tense 16 hour wait was required before it was deemed Azzurro couldn’t repeat her win.
The final results;IRC overall
2 Ichi Ban
3 Caringbah (TP52)