Yachtsman and founder of Clean-up Australia, Ian Kiernan, is confident he can achieve another ‘clean-up' in this year's Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race with his classic boat Sanyo Maris.
The 12m yawl celebrated her 50th birthday by winning last year's challenging race across the northern Tasman Sea on handicap, beating a fleet of modern ocean racing yachts that included Shockwave 5 whose owner/skipper Andrew Short lost his life when the maxi yacht was wrecked on Flinders Islet, off Port Kembla, early this month.
Conducted by Gosford Sailing Club, the 414 nautical mile race to Lord Howe Island will start from Broken Bay at 1pm this coming Saturday, 31 October, with a fleet of 15 yachts representing nine different yachts in New South Wales and Queensland.
“This year, however, I'll be the only Australian in the crew of six aboard Sanyo Maris – the rest will be Kiwis as all of my regular crew are not available, for various reasons,” Kiernan said this week.
“My longtime friend from New Zealand Martin Farrand – we first met 40 years ago when we both cruised our boats to Lord Howe Island – has put together the crew of experienced Kiwi sailors.
“I'm very confident of winning again – she celebrated her 50th birthday as we crossed the line last year and we could do it again.
“The boat has a great rating (handicap) and is in better shape than she ever was. We are hoping for ‘sprung sheets' and I have a new tri-radial spanker built in New Zealand,” the former round-the-world sailor added.
Sanyo Maris was built in timber at historic Battery Point by the famous Tasmanian boat-builder Jock Muir to the design of Alan Payne, who designed the 12-metre class yacht Gretel, Australia's first challenger for the America's Cup.
Fleet numbers for the Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race are limited because of the World Heritage listing of the tiny island across the northern Tasman Sea, with many of the entries again using it as their qualifier for December's Rolex Sydney Hobart.
The race will start from Broken Bay, with the line set between Barrenjoey and Line Island, with Gosford Sailing Club again organising a spectator ferry for the start.
However, the public will again be able to watch the fleet from headlands on the Central Coast as the boats race close inshore to a rounding mark off Terrigal before setting a north-easterly course to Lord Howe Island.
Representing Gosford Sailing Club will be Bill Koppe's Pacha and Chris Dawe's Polaris of Belmont while top IRC handicap contenders in a wide-open race are Sanyo Maris, AFR Midnight Rambler, skippered by former race winner Ed Psaltis from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, and Dennis Cooper's Murray Burns Dovell-designed Amante, also from the CYCA.
A late withdrawal is Anthony Paterson's Tow Truck from Lake Macquarie Yacht Club.