A sunny day, a light sea-breeze; this year the 2023 Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race delivered a picture-perfect start for the fleet of fifty-seven boats. The undulating line of white and black sails included those belonging to seven TP52s who jostled for position, before they began weaving their way out of the heads.
The fastest boats took just twenty minutes to reach the open water, with the light winds quickly growing from 5, to as much as 10 and 11 knots. The light breeze was just enough to ensure a breathtaking start, as conditions made for some spectacularly close, inshore racing, especially amidst the fleet of TP52s.
As they continued north, it was a familiar game of ‘snakes and ladders’ for the TPs. These light, fast, carbon-fibre boats are built for performance, and it is great to see them being pushed to their limits in any conditions. For this tight group, who always enjoy close racing, and post-race camaraderie, it is often the case of a race within a race.
This year, Highly Sprung (Mark Spring), KOA (Andy Kearnan and Peter Wrigley) had early bragging rights over Celestial (Sam Haynes) and Seb Bohm’s Smuggler (skippered by Tim Davis) before the latter elected to head further offshore and broke away from the pack to finish fourth over the line and 2nd in IRC Division 0.
“It was slow,” said Andy Kearnan when asked to describe the race. “But the weather was very pleasant, and we had really, really, close racing. The TPs were on the shore, and it was snakes and ladders all the way,”
“We were at the front of it for most of the time, and we had a really good race,” he added.
Navigator David van Der Wende from Smuggler said the team enjoyed both inshore and offshore racing and had a lot of fun heading North.
“We did really well out of the Harbour. We were the first TP out of the Harbour and we kept going up the coast with the other TPs and then we broke apart and decided to go offshore.
“So we got to Seal Rocks and we played a little bit of an outside game with two options of going in or staying offshore. But in the end, we beat a 60-footer so we are happy about that. And even though we had the current coming with us, it was quite choppy and we got smashed around a bit. But we had a great time,” van Der Wende said.
The TP52s all finished in the Top 14 on Line Honours, in order - Smuggler, Celestial, KOA, Maritimo, Highly Sprung, Denali and Frantic. We looked forward to seeing how they go in the rest of the Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore.