When the fleet cross the starting line at Broken Bay on October 30 they will now first head North to round a special mark laid close off Terrigal Beach before heading out into the Tasman Sea.
Race Director for 2004, David SLINGSBY, believes the new course will help build public involvement in the event.
"The Gosford Lord Howe race has always had a strong connection with the Central Coast community"
, he says "but local people have never been given a real chance to see the yachts racing at close quarters."
"The new rounding mark will be only a mile offshore. All the action of yachts crossing tacks and hoisting spinnakers should be easy to see from the beach or nearby headlands."
"It will be spectacular. We're hoping that local people will come out in numbers to support the race and make a picnic day of it".
The new rounding mark stretches the race distance to 414 nautical miles, ensuring that whichever yacht wins line honours this year will also set the new race record.
Entrants will be competing in just two handicap divisions, IRC and PHS. The old IMS rating group has been discontinued, a move that brings the Lord Howe into line with changes announced for this year's Sydney-Hobart.
Race organizers are particularly keen to encourage smaller, seaworthy yachts to make the Category One passage.
"There are still only five deep draft moorings available in the lagoon"
, Slingsby explains.
"That means that some of the bigger boats may have to do a quick turnaround, but there's plenty of room for yachts that draw seven feet or less to stay with safety".
"The smaller boats have always been the backbone of the Lord Howe fleet and we really want them to keep coming over."
A full Notice of Race will be released before the end of April. Meanwhile, Expressions of Interest can be registered with the Gosford Sailing Club via the website below.