The record books have been rewritten in the Sydney 38 One Design keelboat class with the largest fleet ever assembled set to contest the Joico Sydney 38OD Australian Championship, which starts off Palm Beach tomorrow.
At the close of entries 27 of the class had registered with organisers at Pittwater's Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. The fleet size means the Australian Championship will also see the largest gathering of crew for any one-design championship in Australia.
The championship has attracted some of the sport's best-known names, including former and aspiring Olympians. Brothers Jamie and Bobbie WILMOT will be sailing aboard one of the series favourites, Leon CHRISTIANAKIS'S Cydon, while former world 18ft skiff world champion, Peter SORENSEN, and the recently crowned 11-Metre One Design world champion, Steve MCCONAGHY, will be part of the Eleni crew.
Happiest of all competitors will be Andy DOVELL, the man responsible for the design of the Sydney 38 under the banner of the Sydney based Murray, Burns and Dovell design group. He will be sailing aboard The Bigger Picture.
The calibre of the fleet is such that half the yachts entered have the ability to win the title. Hot favourites will be Victoria's Lou ABRAHAMS sailing Another Challenge, and the NSW trio, Rush (Cameron MILES/Steven ROBSON), Shining Sea (Stephen KULMAR) and London Tavern (Justin LAMBETH).
The Sydney 38 nationals will be sailed concurrently with the Joico Australian Offshore Championship. Another associated event, the Joico Regatta, will be decided over the weekend. This annual two-day series has attracted a further 40 yachts, taking the total fleet for the five days to more than 80 and the number of competitors above 500.
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.