This year's Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race will deliver the much-awaited rematch between trans Tasman super maxis Skandia and Zana, which finished just 14 minutes apart in last year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
This week Zana broke the Auckland to Noumea Race record by more than 40 hours, an ominous sign that the boat is in top form and Auckland businessman Stewart THWAITES is preparing to settle some unfinished business with Grant WHARINGTON'S Skandia, also a 98-footer, come the start on 31 July from Sydney Harbour.
"I am looking forward to the Sydney Gold Coast Race and the Hamilton Island Regatta but the Rolex Sydney Hobart is still the race to win,"
said Thwaites from Noumea following his record-breaking run.
Equally, Victorian property developer Grant WHARINGTON is looking forward to another match up against the New Zealand super maxi.
"It's great to hear that Stuart is bringing Zana over to Australia for the Sydney Gold Coast Race. Our last race was very close, just 14 minutes separated us over 628 nautical miles, which wasn't really comfortable enough for me,"
"We have made some changes to our configuration and are confident that we can win again but Zana will present us with some really stiff competition.
"You are only as good as your last race and we will be working hard to keep up our record of line honours wins,"
Race organiser the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia is expecting close to 70 entries for the first race of the 2004-2005 offshore calendar that includes this year's 60th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Entries are expected from the current race record holder and an outside chance for line honours, George Snow's 79-foot Brindabella, Sean LANGMAN'S fast 66-footer Xena and up to ten Sydney 38s, including the Sydney 38 recently purchased by Michael HINCHEY that will be sailed by the Lake Macquarie crew that has enjoyed previous success on the Mumm 30 Tow Truck.
With the Club's recent move to IRC Handicap for its Bluewater Pointscore series of offshore races, a number of boats have undergone recent modifications including first-time Sydney Gold Coast Race entrant Yendys, owned by former Sydney Hobart Race Overall winner Geoff Ross.
The Notice of Race or application for entry will be available at the end of this week from the official web site at the address below and in printed format from the CYCA's Sailing Office next week.