The fleet starting the FKP Limited Sydney to Mooloolaba Race tomorrow at 1.00pm from Sydney Harbour has been advised by the Bureau of Meteorology to pack their wet weather gear.
At last night's official race briefing for the 469 nautical mile race that has attracted a fleet of 44 yachts, including three Queensland entries and many first timers in this event, skippers and navigators were told to expect a wet race from the start on Wednesday through to the weekend.
The Bureau is expecting fresh north-easterly breezes up the racetrack, with a low currently developing over the Hunter Valley possibly exerting some influence over this forecast later in the week.
A forecast south-easterly change due on Saturday is welcome news for the smaller boats as a quick run to the finish line should put some of them in contention for handicap placings.
"It's going to be a damp race,"
said Bureau forecaster Milton Steer last night. "It would have been lovely to have started a couple of days ago,"
Julie Hodder, navigator on the Volvo 60 Magnavox 2UE, was smug about her position on board the boat that will keep her largely dry for duration of the 'rock hopping' race up the New South Wales east coast to Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
"My navigation table is looking good,"
she said last night. "Apart from the rain, I'm pleased with the forecast because going to windward is better for the big boats - we can play follow the leader."
Julie Hodder and Olympic sailor Jamie Wilmot will form part of the 14-strong crew aboard Magnavox 2UE for its first FKP Limited Sydney to Mooloolaba Race.
Both recently returned from Malaysia where they finished at the top of the Racing Class division of the inaugural Royal Langkawi International Regatta, crewing with Australian owner Peter Ahern aboard his Pacific 50 Yo!
Other international sailors competing tomorrow include round-the-world sailors Tom Braidwood, Genevieve White and Anthony Merrington, America's Cup sailor and designer, Ian Burns, and Team New Zealand sailmaker Jeremy Smith, crewman on Matt Allen's Farr 52 Ichi Ban.
The quality of crew parallels the fleet quality with many new boat owners preparing to test their endurance in a long offshore race, and many champions of the sport vying for silverware in the long-running eight race pointscore series that finishes with this race.
Amongst the new boats is James Neill's The Cone of Silence, the brand new Sydney 38, Run to Paradise, John Stuckey's Sunfast 37, UCAN'TTAKEITWITHU, Ed Psaltis and Bob Thomas' Northshore 369, AFR Midnight Rambler, and Ichi Ban, which was launched just prior to the 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Regulars in this event that are well-placed to finish with a Bluewater or Long Ocean Pointscore Series trophy include Hobart overall winner Quest (Bob Steel), Sting (Terry Mullens), Ragamuffin (Syd Fischer), Pippin (David Taylor) and Chris Bowling's Redrock Communications.
The quest for line honours will be hard-fought between George Snow's Brindabella, the record holder in this event, and the 60 footers including Grundig (Sean Langman), last year's line honours winner, and the two Volvo 60s Magnavox 2UE and Merit (Ian Treleaven). Brindabella's race record is 44 hours 01 minute and 43 seconds set in 1994. Given the strong upwind conditions forecast, a race record is highly unlikely this year.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia aims to bolster the enthusiasm for radio position reporting by the > competitors in this year's FKP Limited Sydney to Mooloolaba Race with the help of a revived award.
The Club recently announced that it would reintroduce the Golden Voice award, to be judged by Derek and Jeanine Barnard from Penta Comstat based on the performance of the operator and the performance of radio equipment during the twice-daily position reports.
Mooloolaba Yacht Club is expecting the first arrivals late Friday evening or early Saturday and they are preparing to turn on the hospitality the crews look forward to each year.
The most recent withdrawal from the race is Geoff Smith's Kictatinalong, putting the fleet size at 44 for the start tomorrow. Geoff intends to cruise north in company with the fleet.
A final weather briefing will be held at the CYCA tomorrow morning at 8.30am.
||AFR Midnight Rambler
||Bob Thomas/Ed Psaltis
||Lyons Cawse 46
||Ray Wallace/Michael Cranitch
||Champagne On Ice
||Phil & Nada Dickinson
||Fitness First Sting
||Komatsu St Malo
||Occasional Coarse Language
||David Beak/Michael Spies
||Run To Paradise
||The Cone of Silence
||James & Jenny Neill