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The Sail of the Season

The Sail of the Season

Australian summers are always an event-filled season for the Gold Coast sailing scene. With races scheduled one after the other, sailors are constantly in for adrenalin rush, and the spectators for a spectacular ocean showcase.

The Southport Yacht Club (SYC), have been very busy organising and preparing, jointly with Royal Prince Albert Yacht Club, for two race events: the Club Marine Pittwater to Paradise Series, and the Bartercard Sail Paradise Regatta for 2018.


Pittwater to Southport Series

The 370 nautical mile Pittwater to Paradise race will start off the entrance to Pittwater in Sydney on 2 January 2018, and finish off Main Beach on the Gold Coast.

There are several different categories. There is a division for multihull yachts and two divisions for monohull yachts. “The monohulls have a division for the serious race boats (IRC Division) and the less serious yachts, but still very competitive, go in the PHS Division. This gives everybody a chance to do well in their respective divisions,” explains Ray McMahon, vice commodore for sailing at the SYC.

This race is expecting the leading boats to take roughly 36 to 48 hours to cross the finish line, and the slower boats roughly two to three days, if the ideal southerly wind blows in their favour. “However, if there’s no wind, then the leading boats may be stuck out there for another day or so, and take the slower boats up to five days. My tip for this year is around 40 hours for the winning boat,” says Ray.

Any long ocean race is extremely dangerous. Ray highlights the strict safety regulations imposed for this race. “You just don’t know what Mother Nature will throw at you. When you’re out there in the ocean, there’s nowhere to hide. All of the boats must pass a strict safety test, including the vessel and its equipment. Add to that, the crew must have certain levels of qualifications to do a race of this level. If the weather goes bad, the boats and crew are well equipped to handle it.”


Sail Paradise Series

Upon the conclusion of the Pittwater to Paradise Race, the Sail Paradise will begin and be decided over four days of racing from 6 to 9 of January 2018. The courses for Sail Paradise will be set just off the surfline of the Gold Coast’s famous sandy beaches.

This is the eighth year of Sail Paradise. This year, for the first time, there will be several official state titles involved. The winner of the IRC Division will be crowned the Queensland State champion; the winner of the AMS Division will be the official State AMS champion; and, the winner of the Sports Boat Division will be the official State Sports Boat champion.

One of the main objectives of the race is to run a professional regatta to showcase the Southport Yacht Club and the Gold Coast. “If you run a great regatta, then it will no doubt build ever year as competitors return to their clubs and sprook what a great regatta is it. We ensure that, while racing, the competitors get the best available level of professionalism. Upon returning to the marina, every competitor and official joins in on our free sausage sizzle to tell a few tall stories over a quiet ale. Every evening, we have live music in the club for those who want to have a lovely evening meal and enjoy the magnificent waterfront restaurant,” clarifies Ray.

The four-day period will be a mix-up of races to keep the competitors’ enthusiasm up. Some days will be long races down to Tweed and back (around four to five hours) and some days will comprise two to three short races of roughly one-hour duration for each race. Ray says, “Variety is the spice of life.” Onshore events, such as the Sailing Attire Fashion Parade, ensure the entire crowd have a good laugh and enjoy the event.


An Auric’s Quest Special

“Most of our local long-distance ocean-racing yachts have decided to chance their hand at doing the Sydney to Hobart race. This means the boats can’t get back from Hobart in time for the Pittwater race. This leaves one competitor from the Southport Yacht Club in the Pittwater race, a great competitor at that. Fred Bestall’s Auric’s Quest is from the Southport Yacht Club, and it’s a real chance to win line honours and handicap,” Ray says excitedly.

Fred Bestall is the first Queenslander to enter both events with his impressive 46-footer, Auric’s Quest, a Nelson/Marek design that took top honours in Sail Paradise in 2017. Fred has decided to try for the double. “I’m really looking forward to putting the yacht and crew to the test in both events,” he says. “It promises to be an exciting race, one that should suit Auric’s Quest. The Bartercard Sail Paradise, which is hosted by SYC, will then give us the chance to show crew from the south what hospitality we can deliver, and the wonderful sailing we enjoy here on the Gold Coast.” The Club Marine Pittwater to Paradise Regatta will be the longest offshore test Fred and his crew have undertaken since the yacht was purchased two years ago.


People’s Day

Ray promises that every day will be an exciting day for watching the races from the beaches. This year, there will be a ‘People’s Day’ on Sunday, 7 January. Ray invites everyone to join. “We’re opening the gates to the marina on this day for spectators to come down and have a look at the race boats, either before or after the race. It’s great to see these magnificent vessels up close.”


For more information on the races, visit


By Andy Kancachian



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