PONANT Sydney Noumea entries now at 20

PONANT Sydney Noumea entries now at 20
Chinese Whisper at the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2016 (ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo) - ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo

With just over seven months to go until the start of the PONANT Sydney Noumea Yacht Race (PSNYR), entries continue to grow with a fleet of 20 now looking ahead to the ocean race to New Caledonia on 2 June 2018.

At 1,064nm the Category 1 challenge is more than 400nm longer than the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, albeit fought out over the less treacherous Tasman and Coral Seas. Nevertheless, with many of the PSNYR entrants past and current competitors of the Blue Water Pointscore, it’s a good opportunity to look for clues in their form ahead of the June event.

For some the motivation of a new race record will play a major part in their excitement for the event. The existing record is now 26 years old being set by Brindabella (G Snow) in 1991 and standing at 5 days 21hours 35mins. With the right conditions the expectation would be some of the more modern boats would have their eye on a taking that place in the CYCA record books.

The first entry to stand out is the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore champion from 2016, Rupert Henry, and his Judel-Vrolijk 62, Chinese Whisper. A proven winner in ocean racing and one of the biggest boats currently entered for the PSNYR, it will be interesting to watch the boat’s form in the Rolex Sydney Hobart in December.

As the only TP52 currently entered, Andy Kearnan and Peter Wrigley’s KOA will be in with a chance. They recently smashed the race record for the Flinders Islet in the Blue Water Pointscore and while that race is some margin shorter than PSNYR, it showed a crew working well together in a powerful boat; key attributes for winning any major race.

With a race as long as the PSNYR – at least four days offshore racing – the weather is sure to play a factor and it’s here that the smaller boats can play to their handicaps. During this year’s Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race Shane Kearns’ Komatsu Azzurro powered to the overall win, despite being one of the smallest boats in the fleet. Shane will return with his experienced crew for the race to Noumea with his impressive results in 2017 ensuring no competitor will take his boat lightly.

Similarly, Noel Cornish’s St Jude will be one to watch across the race. Following some key updates to his boat which produced good results at the tail end of the CYCA’s Winter Series, Cornish and his crew have learned more about how to optimise for racing and by June next year, should be in fine form for the running to Noumea.