Entries are rolling in for this year's Ingles Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race and the talk amongst the crews is centered on whether the current spate of light winds is the calm before some heavy weather come the start on July 31 from Sydney Harbour at 1.00pm
The CYCA's BMW Sydney Winter Series has been sailed in unseasonally light breezes and the feeling around the foreshore is that Sydney is due for a decent blow, enough to put the race record for the 384 nautical mile race under threat - particularly with the entry of Grant WHARINGTON'S 98-foot super maxi Skandia, the largest boat ever to compete in this race.
"A big high pressure system has been sitting over Sydney for sometime creating light winds but I expect this will move north later this month, making way for the traditional westerly winds,"
says Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Kenn BATT.
Three years ago, the start of this annual winter offshore race was postponed three times due to a storm that whipped up conditions off Sydney and while no one is hoping for a delayed start, an exhilarating spinnaker ride up the NSW coast is starting to appeal to those who have drifted around the harbour in no breeze for the last nine Sundays.
The CYCA's Sailing Office has received 12 entries to date including Syd FISCHER'S Farr 50 Ragamuffin and David PESCUD'S Lyons 52 NRMA Insurance, renamed from KAZ, which will continue north to compete in the Hahn Premium Hamilton Island Race Week before turning around to conduct its annual sailing program for disabled school children as it back tracks down the QLD and NSW coasts to Sydney.
Andrew COCHRANE'S Stewart 34 Pendragon, a regular competitor in this event, is pulling out all stops this year in the hunt for a first in their division, something that has eluded this 'bridesmaid' many times.
"We've bought new sails, replaced the boom and less weight is a big issue this year - we so serious about it that all toothbrushes brought on board for the race must be cut off at the handle,"
Joining the regular Pendragon crew will be international Farr 40 and Mumm 30 sailor Chris COOK and 2000 Olympic gold medallist in the 470 Tom KING.
Mike KELAHER'S Santana, which stood by Chris BOWLING'S Red Rock Communications when it sank during last year's Sydney Gold Coast Race, has been entered as has Warwick Sherman's COOKSON 12, Occasional Coarse Language and a newcomer to this event, Mark DAVIES and his 1987-built Farr 40 Lucifarr from Lake Macquarie.
For Mark, the Ingles Sydney Gold Coast Race will his first serious offshore race and he is looking forward to using it as a stepping-stone to the Category 1 Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race and this year's 60th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in December.
A second Lake Macquarie crew is expected to enter a revamped Sydney 38 which is yet to be named. Anthony PATTERSON and Brett FILBY, who have enjoyed many successes with the Mumm 30 Tow Truck are rumoured to be joining new Sydney 38 owner Mick HINCHEY and other Lake Macquarie sailors aboard this one-design yacht.