New entries and old foes finalise preparations for 2018 Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race

13-Jul-2018
A strong 55-yacht fleet is being groomed for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, an annual winter dash north and principal feeder to the Queensland regatta trilogy in August.

Entries for the opening race of the CYCA’s 2018-19 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore Series, second in stature to the club’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, closed on Friday July 6 and five Australian states are represented.

Starting on Saturday July 28 from Sydney Harbour at 1pm, a record four 100-foot supermaxis will lead the various boat makes and models north along the New South Wales and Queensland south-east coast to the finish line off Southport’s Main Beach.

Finish partner Southport Yacht Club will host visiting crews before line-up for the next stage, the Brisbane to Keppel Tropical Yacht Race or deliver straight to Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island and Magnetic Island race weeks.

A new Noakes Sydney Gold Coast entry is Hugh Ellis’ RP63 Voodoo, which last raced in Australia as Alan Brierty’s Limit. Spotting a gap in the size range and familiar with sistership Loki’s success, including a Rolex Sydney Hobart overall win in 2011, the Victorian skipper bought the Reichel-Pugh out of the USA to be competitive in Australia’s major offshore races.

The 33rd edition of the 384-nautical-miler will mark the boat’s Australian re-entry and Ellis has grand plans to compete in the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore series with a carefully assembled amateur team that is moving across from his Cookson 12 called Voodoo, or “little Voodoo” as it’s now known.

“Most of the crew have the experience; it’s about us working out the boat’s idiosyncrasies. It’s fast and violent,” Ellis says. “There are still good sailors in Victoria, just not the boats under them. We are signing up for a two- or three-year east coast campaign. Everyone on the boat is hungry; we want to take it up to them in Sydney.”

Sibby Ilzhofer’s Dare Devil is on the Gold Coast Race start list however the Sydney-based Cookson 47 is stranded in Noumea undergoing repairs for engine trouble which came about during the Groupama Race. The skipper is well aware of the timeframe to return to New Caledonia and deliver her boat back from the South Pacific for the start of the coastal classic.

Six TP52s sets up a stunning handicap contest for that size range and overall trophy, should consistent running and reaching conditions eventuate.

Between the four 100-footers – Wild Oats XI, Comanche and InfoTrack from New South Wales and Black Jack from Queensland – the most significant known modification post-last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart is Comanche’s pedestal winches upgraded to hydraulic winches.

For longtime Wild Oats XI helmsman Mark Richards and two-time America’s Cup-winning helmsman James Spithill driving Jim Cooney’s Comanche, it will be the first time back in close quarters for the pair and the supermaxi crews since last year’s Boxing Day skirmish on Sydney Harbour.

The smallest boat in the fleet is the Army Sailing Club’s 9.3m Jarkan design called Gun Runner. The Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race marks the start of a 55-day Army training exercise with four novice crew arriving every five or six days through to the end of Airlie Beach Race Week.

“The Army believes sailing has similar values: courage, initiative, teamwork and respect,” says boat captain Murray Stewart. “We put 200 novices through the boat every year and last year’s Hobart race was the first time in 20 years the Army has competed in that event. We know about training people up to go in dangerous places, and we’ll be eating Army rations the whole way!”

For more information:
goldcoast.cyca.com.au