The countdown is on until the CH Robinson 50-year anniversary of the Marlay Point Overnight Race (MPONR), which will take place on March 10, 2018.
This annual event starts at sunset and a large fleet of mono and multihull trailer sailors race through the night from Lake Wellington to Paynesville in Victoria.
It is the longest running overnight race in the country and over 200 boats are expected to enter the 50th running of the event.
In 2018, the MPONR runs a week after the second-ever Paynesville Classic Boat Rally, held on the 3-4 March. The interest shown in both events has been outstanding, with boats coming from far and wide to rally and race on the beautiful Gippsland Lakes.
To celebrate the two events, MPONR organisers decided to add a new division to open the race up to older boats that may be in the area for the Paynesville Rally, and who are up for the challenge that long distance, night racing can offer. It will also add a touch of history to the long-running event.
“The new division will add a bit of nostalgia,” race organiser Darryn Dyer said.
“The race has been going for 50 years and boats have changed a lot in this time. Ideally, we’re hoping to encourage some extra people to stay in the area and enjoy the Gippsland Lakes, and join in with our race.
“It’s aimed at the old-style keel boats with a reasonably shallow draft that can get through the course and Couta boats.”
Eligible boats can be wooden or fibreglass and includes any vessel built before 1988 and is not already a recognised trailer sailor, such as a Hartley TS16, Sunmaid, RL24 and Timpenny’s, some of which have been racing in the MPONR since the race first started. All boats entering the MPONR must also meet safety category 5N.
As for handicapping such a potentially large variety of boats, there will be elapsed time result, rather than corrected time handicapping for the classics. The first classic home will be first in their division, however each boat to complete the course will get a coveted MPONR medallion.
“Depending on numbers, we’re looking at multiple starts” Dyer said. “With 120 boats, the southern end of the line can get a bit congested and to put the slower boats at ease, we’ll probably be sending the faster boats off first.
“Of course, a lot will depend on what the weather dishes out. It can be anything from a wild blustery night to a drifter where you go backwards in the Straights.
“One of the trickier parts for the classic boats would be negotiating McLennan Straights, which is the waterway between Lake Wellington and Lake Victoria. They’re not on their own there though. Every boat can struggle here as they pass through, however some of the more modern boats may get through a bit easier than the older designs.”
Dyer says he can’t wait to see the classic yachts lining up on the start line at sunset amongst hundreds of other boats to celebrate the 50th MPONR. He said everyone should give the Marlay Point a go for a number of reasons.
“It’s a fantastic experience. First of all, the thrill of sailing at night is an experience in itself. Secondly, to see the Gippsland Lakes as the sun goes down, and then to navigate across Lake Wellington, through the narrow straits at night,. Then to watch the sun come up as you sail into Lake Victoria, in my opinion it’s an amazing experience, one not to be missed.”
Further information: www.mponr.com