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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Craig Kerry

Newcastle crews hope for southerly test in Sydney to Hobart

Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club boat Mako will be back for another shot at the Sydney to Hobart when it starts on Sydney Harbour at 1pm Boxing Day. Picture Supplied

A trio of Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NCYC) boats are expected to do well if southerly conditions dominate in the Sydney to Hobart race next month.

Four Hunter boats are in the 118-strong fleet set to contest the 77th edition of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's 628-nautical mile race, which begins on Boxing Day.

Mako, KD4 and Uprising Brightside Marine from NCYC, and Hasta La Vista, from Lake Macquarie Yacht Club, have entered. Regulars She's The Culprit and Frantic are not going this year, while Wonderland is also missing.

Like Wonderland, Mako failed to finish last year's race. The Sydney 40 yacht, sailed by a syndicate from NCYC, including club chief executive Paul O'Rourke, retired to port after their mainsail was damaged in a squall on the first night.

"We didn't get very far, we barely got to Wollongong, so hopefully this year it's a bit better," said O'Rourke, who is not making the trip this time around.

"It was a steady 25-30 knots, which is fine, but a group of us sailed into a rain squall that had about 48 knots, and it just opened up the back of our main and we weren't carrying a spare, so that was it for us.

"There was a big group of boats and if you were outside that squall, you were fine.

"That's part of boat racing. The smallest things can make a big difference, so you've just got to get on with it and go again.

"We have a new main this year, which means we have a spare one."

Wonderland withdrew at Eden with a battery problem, which meant they were unable to do mandatory radio checks.

New boats to the race this year are KD4, a Dehler 44, and Uprising Brightside Marine, a Jeanneau 36. Both are attempting the race with two-handed crews.

Skipper and owner Joe de Kock will team up with Richard Hooper on KD4, while the father-and-son combination of Andrew and Harry Miller will sail Uprising Brightside Marine.

"Joe de Kock is a world champion sailor and he owns the boat and the yard here, Midcoast Boatyard and Marine, and he's done around-the-world races," O'Rourke said. "It's a heavy cruising boat so if the breeze is on the nose, they'll do very well. They are real contenders.

"Andrew [Miller] was a professional sailor in years gone by and Harry works for Joe in the shipyard as a shipwright apprentice.

"Harry has come through our youth development program and has just turned 18, so he's qualified and they are going two-handed, which is a pretty big effort for his first Hobart.

"If it's a southerly breeze, all three boats will be very competitive. They are all good at going upwind."

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