Good winds forecast for SSORC Rolex Sydney Hobart warm-up this weekend

Saturday's forecast 15-25 knot nor'westerly breeze and high temps will well and truly iron out any wrinkles when the two fleets contesting this weekend's Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship, hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club for the 32nd time, take up position in Sydney Harbour.

Windward/leeward racing will kick off on the Manly Circle, east of Queenscliff Head, on Saturday 28 November with a 1055hrs warning signal prior to an 1100hrs start.

The close proximity of the course area to a number of harbour headlands will offer the public a variety of superb viewing platforms as some of the country's hottest IRC boats test themselves in the fresh conditions prior to the upcoming Rolex Trophy, 17-20 December, and Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start four weeks later, on 26 December.

An IRC fleet of 15 yachts broken into two divisions and including a number of Rolex Sydney Hobart handicap hopefuls, Geoff Ross's recently modified RP 55 Yendys, Bob Steel's Farr TP52 Quest and Stephen Ainsworth's RP 63 Loki, will “have a bit of grind on” over the two-day short course regatta says the grinning Principal Race Officer John Hurley.

“The format will be extremely tight, up to six windward/leeward races over two days with short two mile beats in 20 knots is definitely going to serve up tough racing for competitors,” said Hurley today.

This annual shakedown is considered the first of two important stepping stones to the start of Australia's great race on Boxing Day, and those with their eye on the major handicap prize are taking advantage of a full weekend's racing in the arms of some of Australia's best racing administrators, including Hurley, Denis Thompson and Phil Yeomans.

The second component of the SSORC is the Ocean Passage Race series, the warning signal for race one due to sound at 1155hrs tomorrow, Saturday 28 November, prior to a midday start. An impressive fleet of 54 yachts will line up north of Shark Island in the harbour for what promises to be a spectacular single line start for the offshore fleet, which will be sent on a 15 – 25 nautical mile race with the final distance to be determined prior to the start gun, based on conditions on the track.

Both Saturday and Sunday's Ocean Passage races will start in the vicinity of the annual summer ocean classic, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, giving Hobart contenders Balance, Bear Necessity, Mahligai, Next, Shortwave, Quetzalcoatl, Sailors with disAbilities and St. Jude a practice run into the start line minus the Boxing Day hype.

The format for the final day of racing, Sunday 29 November, is the same for both fleets with a 1055hrs warning signal for the IRC divisions racing inshore and an 1155hrs warning signal for the Ocean Passage Race for the IRC and PHS Racer/Cruiser classes.

The SSORC 2009 sailing instructions are available via the official regatta website

There will be live entertainment at Middle Harbour Yacht Club Sunday evening and from 4pm both days the Inner Circle Rum promotional team will be running competitions and rum tasting at the club.

Audi Australia, Sydney City Marine, Inner Circle Rum, St Arnou, and Henri Lloyd are the 32nd Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship event sponsors.

By Lisa Ratcliff/SSORC media

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