The Bureau is expecting fresh north-easterly breezes up the racetrack, with a low currently developing over the Hunter Valley possibly exerting some influence over this forecast later in the week.
A forecast south-easterly change due on Saturday is welcome news for the smaller boats as a quick run to the finish line should put some of them in contention for handicap placings.
"It's going to be a damp race," said Bureau forecaster Milton Steer last night. "It would have been lovely to have started a couple of days ago," he pondered.
Julie Hodder, navigator on the Volvo 60 Magnavox 2UE, was smug about her position on board the boat that will keep her largely dry for duration of the 'rock hopping' race up the New South Wales east coast to Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
"My navigation table is looking good," she said last night. "Apart from the rain, I'm pleased with the forecast because going to windward is better for the big boats - we can play follow the leader."
Julie Hodder and Olympic sailor Jamie Wilmot will form part of the 14-strong crew aboard Magnavox 2UE for its first FKP Limited Sydney to Mooloolaba Race.
Both recently returned from Malaysia where they finished at the top of the Racing Class division of the inaugural Royal Langkawi International Regatta, crewing with Australian owner Peter Ahern aboard his Pacific 50 Yo!
Other international sailors competing tomorrow include round-the-world sailors Tom Braidwood, Genevieve White and Anthony Merrington, America's Cup sailor and designer, Ian Burns, and Team New Zealand sailmaker Jeremy Smith, crewman on Matt Allen's Farr 52 Ichi Ban.
The quality of crew parallels the fleet quality with many new boat owners preparing to test their endurance in a long offshore race, and many champions of the sport vying for silverware in the long-running eight race pointscore series that finishes with this race.
Amongst the new boats is James Neill's The Cone of Silence, the brand new Sydney 38, Run to Paradise, John Stuckey's Sunfast 37, UCAN'TTAKEITWITHU, Ed Psaltis and Bob Thomas' Northshore 369, AFR Midnight Rambler, and Ichi Ban, which was launched just prior to the 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Regulars in this event that are well-placed to finish with a Bluewater or Long Ocean Pointscore Series trophy include Hobart overall winner Quest (Bob Steel), Sting (Terry Mullens), Ragamuffin (Syd Fischer), Pippin (David Taylor) and Chris Bowling's Redrock Communications.
The quest for line honours will be hard-fought between George Snow's Brindabella, the record holder in this event, and the 60 footers including Grundig (Sean Langman), last year's line honours winner, and the two Volvo 60s Magnavox 2UE and Merit (Ian Treleaven). Brindabella's race record is 44 hours 01 minute and 43 seconds set in 1994. Given the strong upwind conditions forecast, a race record is highly unlikely this year.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia aims to bolster the enthusiasm for radio position reporting by the > competitors in this year's FKP Limited Sydney to Mooloolaba Race with the help of a revived award.
The Club recently announced that it would reintroduce the Golden Voice award, to be judged by Derek and Jeanine Barnard from Penta Comstat based on the performance of the operator and the performance of radio equipment during the twice-daily position reports.
Mooloolaba Yacht Club is expecting the first arrivals late Friday evening or early Saturday and they are preparing to turn on the hospitality the crews look forward to each year.
The most recent withdrawal from the race is Geoff Smith's Kictatinalong, putting the fleet size at 44 for the start tomorrow. Geoff intends to cruise north in company with the fleet.
A final weather briefing will be held at the CYCA tomorrow morning at 8.30am.
|8338||AFR Midnight Rambler||Bob Thomas/Ed Psaltis||Northshore 369|
|500||Antipodes||Greg Newton||Beneteau 47.7|
|7878||Aspect||David Pescud||Lyons 52|
|5802||Austmark||Gunther Schmidt-Lindner||Lyons Cawse 46|
|5985||Balmain Experience||Tony Williams||NSX 38|
|5444||Bobsled||Paul White||Steinman 66|
|C1||Brindabella||George Snow||Jutson 75|
|8848||Broomstick||Ray Wallace/Michael Cranitch||Custom 66|
|5984||Champagne On Ice||Phil & Nada Dickinson||Beneteau 50|
|MY2||Cuckoos Nest||Nigel Holman||Sydney 38|
|6198||De Light||Nick Delaine||X442|
|6037||Eureka||Robert Robertson||Sydney 60|
|8833||Fitness First Sting||Terry Mullens||Farr 50|
|A99||Grundig||Sean Langman||MBD 66|
|8880||Ichi Ban||Matt Allen||Farr 52|
|MH106||Impeccable||John Walker||Peterson 34|
|5474||Infinity III||Martin James||Farr 65|
|R1000||Intercall Ausmaid||Alan Quick||Farr 47|
|5950||Komatsu St Malo||Shane Kearns||Northshore 38|
|8383||Krakatoa||Rod Skellet||Young 31|
|MH888||Magnavox 2UE||Peter Sorensen||Volvo 60|
|8679||Merit||Ian Treleaven||Volvo 60|
|MH9||MRZ||Phillip Rowe||Jarkan 38|
|2999||Obsession||Andrew Lygo||Sydney 38|
|8008||Occasional Coarse Language||Warwick Sherman||Cookson 12|
|9407||P&O Nedlloyd||David Beak/Michael Spies||Beneteau 40.7|
|533||Pippin||David Taylor||Farr 37|
|AUS6606||Quest||Bob Steel||Nelson/Marek 46|
|AUS70||Ragamuffin||Syd Fischer||Farr 50|
|8333||Redrock Communications||Christopher Bowling||Hick 30|
|RQ1123||Rum Jungle||Charles McCart||Swarbrick S125|
|HI38||Run To Paradise||Michael Butler||Sydney 38|
|242||Sea Jay||Scot Wheelhouse||Bashford 41|
|5879||Sea-Change||Michael Belakhov||Sydney 36|
|6188||Strewth||Geoff Hill||MKL 49|
|6073||Swish||Steven Proud||Sydney 38|
|MH1||Tara||Robert Reynolds||Lyons 43|
|8699||The Cone of Silence||James & Jenny Neill||Super 30|
|5884||The Dreamtime||John Woodruff||Pacific 50|
|M6||Tow Truck||Anthony Paterson||Mumm 30|
|MH442||Toy Box||Ian Box||X442|
|6701||UCAN'TTAKEITWITHU||John Stuckey||Sunfast 37|
|2557||Witchdoctor||Rum Consortium||Davidson 42|