Sydney-Gold Coast Yacht Race: Celestial wins

Yacht

SAM Hayne’s Celestial has been declared winner of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s (CYCA) 384 nautical mile Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race this afternoon.  

When told of his win, Haynes, representing the CYCA in Sydney said: “It’s fantastic – what a great race to win – it’s a marquee event. It’s great to win the first race of the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore.”


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Queensland’s 70ft Black Jack (Peter Harburg), which finished the race second on line, has placed second overall and Bob Oatley’s line honours winner, Wild Oats XI, takes third place.

This is a major coup for Haynes, who is the only one of the smaller yachts to overcome the bigger boats. In fact, fourth overall is likely to be claimed by Matt Allen’s new Carkeek 60, Ichi Ban. Nearest in size to Celestial is Tony Kirby’s ninth placed Ker 46, Patrice, which earlier led the race.

Haynes’ 16 year-old son Will, a product of the CYCA’s Youth Sailing Academy, can now lay claim to be the youngest winner of the event – and in his maiden offshore yacht race. “He was very good, he trimmed and packed spinnakers and pulled his weight,” Haynes said.

Will said it was “pretty good to win my first offshore race. It was interesting to see how the crew performed offshore racing compared to how it works inshore. I had a great time – I’d do it again.”

Initially, Patrice led the race from Victoire and St George Midnight Rambler, but Haynes and crew worked Celestial up the standings and took control of the race late yesterday.

“We did our best sailing at night. Last night we had our A3 spinnaker up and ran hard all last night. It enabled us to sail close to the rhumbline (the most direct course) and that gave us an inside line all the way up. It meant we avoided the current, which was quite strong. I think that made a difference,” Celestial’s owner said.

Haynes said the course they took meant they could make as few gybes as possible to make Cape Byron, and it therefore saved them time.

“The wind was forecast to swing round to the east – and it did – we had a nice 14 knots. It eventually dropped down to 9 knots – that was scary – but we needn’t have worried,” Haynes said.

From Point Danger to the Main Beach Southport finish line, Celestial’s crew changed sails “four to five times for maximum benefit,” Haynes said.

“We knew we had to keep racing as hard as we could, as some of the contenders like Pretty Fly III (Colin Woods) and Balance (Paul Clitheroe) were close to us. Patrice (Tony Kirby’s earlier leader) had sailed out from the coast, so we thought we had it over her.

“Our navigator David Van der Wende and tactician Steve McConaghy worked really well together to help achieve this result. The whole crew put in a fantastic effort.”

McConaghy said: “I reckon our biggest gain was at North Head just after the start of the race.”

Haynes added: “Celestial performs really well through all that light and tricky stuff – and the crew effort was brilliant.”

Boats have been trickling into Southport throughout the day and last eight boats expected to finish by early tomorrow morning. Those remaining at sea are at the mercy of light north-westerlies. It is making the going very slow.

The CYCA’s proven yacht tacker system is allowing family, friends and yachting enthusiasts to follow the race and their favourite yachts for its duration. Each yacht is fitted with a Yellowbrick tracker that will obtain a position using the GPS satellite network, and then transmit the position back to Yellowbrick HQ using the Iridium satellite network.

Each yacht’s position is then visualised on the race yacht tracker map, or overlaid on Google Earth. In addition, the yacht tracker system also shows distance to finish line and progressive corrected time positions under the IRC, ORCi and PHS handicap divisions.

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