The start of the Southport to Mackay Blue Water Yacht Race saw five of the seven boats within centimetres of each other as they crossed the start line off the Southport Seaway today.
With a 10 knot Nor'Easter that swung in to replace the expected sou'wester just before the start, the fleet was hard-on in tight formation as they headed north in the 530 nm race.
The race was officially started by Mr. John-Paul Langbroek, the Member for Surfers Paradise.
In a break with tradition, the horn of a luxury Riviera cruiser was used to make the start as Mr LANGBROEK would have needed a gun license to fire the double barrel shot gun used to start off shore races. The Riviera, a brand new 58 footer was offered by the company to help support the fledgling event, which began last year.
It was an indication of the expected intense competition for line honours between five of the seven boats in the fleet. Andrew Short Marine, one of two Volvo 60,s in the race crossed the line first followed by Ichi Ban, last year's second place getter which came from an excellent position at the windward end of the line to cross less than two seconds later. Seriously Ten, the other Volvo 60, AFR Midnight the Farr 40 One Design, skippered by Mackay yachtsman Bob THOMAS and Elektra, a Beneteau 47.7 skippered by Melbourne yachtsman Michael HIATT crossed with less than a two seconds between them.
Abel Point yachtsman Warren SMITH in Double O Seven was hot on their heels just 10 seconds behind while Hi Fidelity, the Southport based Adams Carina 44 took up the rear. Despite her slower speeds, Hi Fidelity, which originally entered cruising division, has been placed in PHRF Division, the same division as the two Volvo 60's, and has a good chance of winning on handicap.
Last year's line honours winner Nicorette set a benchmark of 42:26:06hours across the line. With light breezes forecast over the next couple of days it is looking as if this time may stand for another year. The bulk of the fleet is expected to be off Moreton Bay this evening when they will hope to pick up an evening breeze, which will give them a boost.
The Southport to Mackay Blue Water Yacht Race is hosted by the Mackay Yacht Club in association with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, which is assisting with the administration.