David Forbes retired his racing gloves over a decade ago but will contest this year’s Sydney to Gold Coast Race on his new 51-foot cruising boat, Merlin, which he co-designed with America’s Cup yacht designer Phil Kaiko.
"These days we are in it for the cruise between the races," said Forbes, a former Olympic Gold Medallist at the 1972 Olympics sailed out of Kiel Germany, and Australian Yachtsman of the Year in 1973.
He also represented Australia in three Olympics, twice in Stars and once in Solings, and competed in the America's Cup and Admiral's Cup, in the latter with his yacht Great News, which he owned in partnership with John Calvert-Jones.
Following the Sydney to Gold Coast Race, Forbes and his co-owner Richard Brooks will head to the Hahn Premium Hamilton Island Race Week where he won the inaugural regatta in the mid-1980s on board Great News.
McConaghy Yachts at Mona Vale built Merlin to fibreglass state and Forbes completed the deck hardware, plumbing and electrics. The boat features a lifting keel, carbon rig and twin rudders and is set up for cruising. "We haven't overloaded it but it's pretty comfortable," Forbes added.
Also competing in the same IRC division is another newcomer to the Sydney to Gold Coast Race, the brightly coloured Lyons Extreme 50 Excalibur owned by Alan Saunders, Vice Commodore of the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, and his wife Auriol.
The yacht was launched only 10 weeks ago in Melbourne and had many training runs on Port Phillip Bay before "ironing out the remaining bugs" during the trip to Sydney for the 1.00pm start this Saturday, July 27.
Excalibur was built in Melbourne by Applied Alloy Yachts in conjunction with a large group of dedicated crew volunteers. It has an Aluminium Alloy hull with foam sandwich glass deck and has a number of innovative engineering concepts included in its construction.
"We are using this campaign as an opportunity to learn to sail in the big league," said Alan Saunders. "We are still coming to grips with sailing a performance yacht with a powerful rig and while we may not be on the winner's podium, we'll be demonstrating that the sailors from the south can be competitive."