Near 500 sailors and 70 yachts will this week contest the combined Joico sponsored Australian Offshore Championship, Sydney 38 One Design Australian Championship and the associated Joico Regatta off Palm Beach.
With late entries still being processed by officials at Pittwater's Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club it is obvious that all Australian championships will be keenly contested. Leading the hunt for the top prizes in the Offshore series will be Matt ALLEN's Ichi Ban, Michael SPIES' and David BEAK's Sydney to Hobart race winning Mr Beak's Ribs (formerly First National Real Estate), and another Hobart Race winner, Bob STEEL's Quest. Carrying the flag for Queensland will be Joanne KERRISON with her Mumm 30, Enigma.
A last minute decision for hull surgery will prevent one of the favourites for the IRC offshore title, Bob OATLEY's Wild Oats, from competing. The yacht was taken from the water last week so the aft rudder could be relocated farther back and steering system modified. It is hoped this change will improve the yacht's balance and increase its already impressive upwind speed.
Oatley is grabbing every opportunity to refine Wild Oats before he hands ownership over to Sydney's John DAVID after Race Week at Hamilton Island in August.
The modifications are being analysed for inclusion in the canting ballast/twin foil (CBTF) 66-footer Oatley currently has under construction at John MCCONAGHY's facility on Sydney's northern beaches.
America's Reichel/Pugh group, the team behind the all-conquering Wild Oats, has designed the new boat. It is due for launching in July and is set to be shipped to the Mediterranean almost immediately for a series of major international regattas.
John DAVID, who has sold his Swan 46, will rename the new yacht Joe and change its livery once he and son Stephen take possession.
Iain MURRAY is destined to be the principal helmsman for major campaigns.
The Sydney 38OD's certainly won't be lacking any of the favourites at the Joico Australian Championship. At least 25 of the class will be lining up. Veteran Victorian Lou ABRAHAMS will be the sentimental favourite with Another Challenge, but he faces intense competition from the likes of AMI Jade (Peter MCNAMARA), Cinquante (Michael JONES), Cydon (Leon CHRISTIANAKIS), Shining Sea (Stephen KULMAR) and the Cameron MILES steered Rush.
Racing for the Australian Championships will begin on Wednesday. At the weekend the annual Joico Regatta will see racing for Farr 40s, 11-metre One Designs, Sydney 32s and Sportsboats.
The prestigious Italian watch brand Locman, and Holden, are associate sponsors of the Joico Australian Offshore Championship. Holden, a major supporter of Yachting Australia, is offering the chance for one lucky sailor at the regatta to win a weekend in the Hunter Valley driving a Holden Monaro.
This is the third year that Australia's leading professional haircare company, Joico, has been naming rights sponsor for a major annual regatta out of Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.