George SNOW'S Brindabella led the 40-boat fleet out of Sydney Harbour, putting up a valiant fight against the bigger Skandia, but it was only a matter of time before greater length saw the 98-foot Victorian super maxi move into first place.
Forty boats began their 469 nautical mile journey from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast at 1.00 this afternoon in a light sea breeze.
After a clean start, Brindabella, Sean LANGMAN'S 66-footer AAPT, John WOODRUFF'S Seriously TEN and Geoff LAVIS' UBS Wild Thing all broke away from the main fleet, leaving the mid and smaller sized boats in their wake before they split between the eastern and western shores of Sydney Harbour.
The eastern shore proved the winner with Brindabella, AAPT and eventually Skandia, skippered by Victorian businessman Grant WHARINGTON, leaving Sydney Harbour in close company before a private tacking duel ensued between Brindabella and Skandia, allowing Grundig to slip quietly across their sterns and out to sea.
Skandia's navigator Will OXLEY this afternoon said the crew was happy with their start however he admitted conditions were tricky on the start line with two competing breezes affecting their ability to get out from under the smaller boats and into clear air.
"It is going to be a long race and the transition between the sea breezes and the land breezes are going to be tricky,"
Will said, referring to the expected forecast that will see the day sea breezes replaced by night land breezes until a strong sou'easter blows onto the racetrack late Friday or early Saturday.
The next group of yachts to leave Sydney Harbour this afternoon included Geoff ROSS' optimised IMS grand prix racer Yendys, the Volvo 60 Seriously TEN, Matt ALLEN'S Ichi Ban, which glided along under the sandstone cliffs of North Head with her matching gold sails, Martin JAMES' Infinity III, David GOTZE'S Indec Merit, which is being skippered by her former owner Ian TRELEAVEN for this race, UBS Wild Thing and Bob Steel's Quest.
Sally GORDON from Ichi Ban reported by telephone this afternoon that they had collided with another boat at the start and had suffered three bent stanchions as a result.
Of the smaller boats, the tiny Mumm 30 Tow Truck, last year's IRC Overall Winner in this race, was the best placed followed by Wadadli, the first of the Sydney 38s to leave the harbour, and Warwick Sherman's Occasional Course Language.