Lord Howe Island Yacht Race

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Race Director Geoff Jollow will be has compiling a guide to this years yachts contesting the 2014 Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race.

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Race Director:

Geoff Jollow – 43257216

The Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race.
This Classic race offers all sailors a chance to pit their skills against the ocean as they cross the Tasman Sea on the 416 nautical mile race to the World Heritage Island – a true blue water challenge.

The race record is 33hrs-34mins-21secs set by Ian Treleavan’s VO60 Merit in 2002 for the 408nm distance.

The best time for the new course that includes a rounding mark off Terrigal is 34hrs-52mins set by another VO60 Getaway Sailing in 2006.

Indeed, it has often been described as ‘the most exclusive ocean race in Australia’ because of the limit of twenty yachts that can moor in the coral lagoon of this World Heritage-listed island.  Even the number of visitors to the island at any one time is restricted to preserve its unique ecology.

Nevertheless, it was an effort to uplift the island’s micro-tourism industry that prompted the inaugural yacht race from the Australian mainland to Lord Howe Island more than three and a half decades ago.

The regular flying boat service from Sydney to Lord Howe Island had ceased, but a couple of prominent members of the Gosford Sailing Club, who had cruised their yachts to the island, suggested to enthusiastic locals that the island would make a wonderful destination for an organised yacht race.

That was back in 1973.  Now, almost 40 years on and the Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race has become a major event on the offshore sailing calendar, each year attracting some of Australia’s best known ocean racing yachts and yachtsmen.

In fact, the Lord Howe Race is the only annual Category 1 ocean race in Australian waters other than the famous 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

Among the prominent yachts to have competed have been Rolex Sydney Hobart line and handicap winners Brindabella, Fidelis, AFR Midnight Rambler, Love & War, Illusion and Pacha, along with former round-the-world racing yacht Merit and international maxi Shockwave 5.  AFR Midnight Rambler won the storm-battered 1998 Sydney Hobart and the following year took out a tough Gosford to Lord Howe Island race.

Starting from Broken Bay, just south of Gosford, the fleet first heads north to a rounding make off Terrigal on the Central Coast, before setting a course for Lord Howe Island, 416 nautical miles to the north-east across the rugged Tasman Sea on this true blue water classic.

The first sight of land for their crews will be unique twin peaks of Lord Howe Island rising out of the eastern horizon, as they were first seen by a ship of Australia’s First Fleet in 1788 on its way to Norfolk Island.  Unlike the crew of HMS Supply who sailed past the island 222 years ago,   the crews of the yachts in this year’s race know they will have several days of relaxing beneath Kentia palms and Banyan trees in this semi-tropical setting before sailing back to the Australian mainland.

Apart from providing yachtsmen with a true ocean racing challenge, the advent of the Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race was the catalyst in reviving the island’s tourism.  It is once more a thriving industry,  with daily airline flights to a fine airport but,  like the yacht race fleet,  the number of visitors at any one time is still limited, making Lord Howe Island a unique destination in every respect.