Sunday, 10 April 2011

ASONYR: Copernicus overcomes a hard night at sea to take race lead

Copernicus has taken the race lead overall. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

by Di Pearson

Creative, imaginative and concise is the mindset competitors in the Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race would have found themselves in overnight, as the 18-boat fleet struggled in the extremely light conditions that had most of the fleet choosing an inshore route, with the exception of Pretty Fly III.

Loki still leads the line honours chase from Colin and Gladys Woods’ Pretty Fly III, a Cookson 50, but the standout boat overnight is the Tasman Pointscore leader, Greg Zyner’s Copernicus, which has taken the overall lead of the race under IRC.

In the capable hands of Jim Nixon for this race, the Radford 12 has sailed into a remarkable fourth place on line, trailing the stern of Pretty Fly III by 15 nautical miles. Just in front of Copernicus is Andrew Wenham and his Volvo 60, Southern Excellence, enjoying one of their best performances to-date.

Copernicus’ overnight performance finds her just east of Port Stephens this morning, while second overall Loki, Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel/Pugh 63, is 21 nautical miles east of Sugar Loaf and is expected to finish around 8.30pm tonight, based on current conditions.

Pretty Fly III and Darryl Hodgkinson’s Beneteau 45, Victoire are third and fourth overall this morning as Loki and Victoire’s battle for the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore goes into overdrive.

As reported by a couple of competitors, conditions have been light overnight at around 5-10 knots, from the north/north-east for the bulk of the fleet in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 213 nautical mile race, the decider of the Blue Water Pointscore.

Pretty Fly III has maintained a solid performance. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

From line honours leader Loki, navigator Michael Bellingham reported shortly after 7.00am: “We had a great night we got into the land breeze and stayed close to the shore during the night. Pressure was a maximum 9 knots and a minimum 4 from the west-north-west.

“We got away from the fleet and are very happy with our position. The problem now is it’s very light after sunrise and we still have 10 miles to go to reach the Audi mark, so still a few hours until we turn for the finish.
“Winds for the day light until a late see breeze is due, and we are looking forward to that,” Bellingham added.

Sailing just south of Port Stephens this morning Wasabi’s owner/skipper Bruce McKay reported from his Sayer 12: “All good; we’ve got nice boat speed and heading – hopefully the breeze will stay in. Positions have changed overnight with the fickle winds.

“We’re enjoying some warm coffee and toasted ham cheese and tomato sandwiches right now...” he added.

Loki still has a distance of 88 nautical miles to make the finish line of the Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race in the Hunter River, just a stone’s throw from the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, which will finish the race.

To follow the race from the start visit the official race website: or on follow it on Twitter Line honours positions and provisional handicap results can be viewed at any time from the Standings section of the race website.