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14 March 2005, 10:38 am
Race Record Under Threat
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2005 Sydney Mooloolaba Yacht Race
Sydney, Australia

A forecast south south easterley change which is due to sweep through Sydney on Wednesday could prove a bitter pill for George SNOW and his maxi yacht Brindabella. His 11-year Sydney Mooloolaba Race record could topple and for the first time in many years, he won't be there to defend it.
With Brindabella out of the picture, the news is good for the line honours contenders, including Martingale, which is contesting its first long offshore race this week. Never mind about the showers that will dampen everything above and below deck, as long as there's breeze - and plenty of it.

David DICKER's Martingale, the former green-hulled Australian Skandia Wild Thing, will be relaunched onto the Australian offshore racing scene in this Wednesday's Sydney Mooloolaba Yacht Race.

A completely different boat to Grant WHARINGTON's two-time line honours winner in this race, Martingale will be sailed by a crew of five experienced sailors plus the owner and his wife. A far cry from the 22 it took to sail the boat under Wharington's ownership.

'It won't be sailed as aggressively as it used to be but we believe it is now a faster boat,' says the boat's manager Dara JOHNSTON.

'Our plan is to get out of the harbour and sail conservatively as the most important thing for us is to finish and show the sceptics that we are capable. Whether we can hold back once we are out there is another thing. We'll be working hard to beat AAPT, Sean LANGMAN is capable of hanging onto anything. 'We are happy with the forecast but handling the kites will be a huge amount of work for seven people,' Johnston admits.

David DICKER, a Sydney-based computer software distributor, has spent 14 months and plenty of bucks on automating the 84-footer to use it as a test bed for his next project - a 30m canting keeled yacht that can be sailed double-handed.

Automated water ballast, backstays, new hydraulics, furling headsails and staysails and being able to tack the boat with a touch key pad are just some of Martingale's new features, all of which have been designed by the owner, a self confessed computer fanatic, and installed by local marine companies.

This will be the first offshore race for David, whose last boat was a Laser, and he plans to contest this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with Martingale.

For veteran Queensland yachtsman Bob 'Robbo' ROBERTSON, who is lining up for his 16th Sydney Mooloolaba Race with his new boat Monkey Magic, a Bavaria 42 and one of three Queensland entries, he's not complaining about the forecast either. 'At least we'll get there,' he says laconically.

Peter DUNDA from the Bureau of Meteorology will tonight give the preliminary race forecast at the official race briefing, to be held at 19:00 at the CYCA.

He will advise skippers and crews that a 20-25 knot S/SE change is due to hit Sydney Wednesday morning, which means a likely spinnaker start for the 39-strong fleet which will be commencing their run at 1.00pm off Nielsen Park, and a wet race.

'The change will continue moving up the NSW coast during Thursday bringing rain periods and isolated thunderstorms to the NSW Hunter, mid north then far north coasts,' said Dunda today. 'Scattered showers are likely to continue on Friday and the next few days.'

Like the rain, the strong following breeze of up to 25 knots is also expected to hold until Friday, by which time the likes of Martingale, Sean LANGMAN's AAPT, John WOODRUFF's Volvo 60 Seriously TEN and a handful of other yachts capable of maintaining the race record average of 10.65 knots over the 469 nautical mile course, could be safely tucked away in Mooloolaba or heading to Brisbane to contest the Brisbane - Gladstone race the following week.

The southerly needs to blow for just over 44 hours from 13:00 Wednesday afternoon to break Brindabella's 11-year race record of 44 hours 1 minute and 43 seconds.

By Saturday, the breeze should ease to 10-20 knots but it should continue to blow from the S/SE until the last yacht is home.

The final weather briefing will be held at 08:30 at the CYCA on the morning of the start, Wednesday 16 March.

Lisa Ratcliff (As Amended by ISAF)
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