Oprah Changes Sailing Course

Posted: December 13, 2010 in boat, boats, sailboat, sailboat race, sailing, sailing race, yacht, yacht race, yachting, yachts
Sailing Sydney

Sailing Sydney

Word around Sydney Australia is that Oprah may alter the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge sailing course.  The annual SOLAS Big Boat Challenge maxi yacht fleet may for the first time in 17 years have to shift their finish line from off the Opera House if a sizable fleet of spectator craft hoping to catch a glimpse of the talk show Queen, Oprah Winfrey, creates a traffic jam on the water.

Tuesday December 14 is Oprah’s filming day at the Opera House in Sydney and also the Rolex Sydney Hobart lead-in race around Sydney Harbour when the line honours hopefuls get to show off their might to the public, and perhaps gain the mental edge with a race win.

CYCA sailing manager Justine Kirkjian says “with the huge interest in Oprah we’ve made an allowance for the race committee to shorten the course if the big boats don’t have enough running room amongst the spectator fleet to finish at speed and then drop their sails off the Opera House.

“After the 12.30pm race start from Steele Point we’ll monitor the number of vessels in and around Farm Cove and make the call mid-race,” Kirkjian added.

Entries for the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge stand at 17 with today the final day for skippers to accept entry to the invitation-only event.

Headline acts Wild Oats XI and Investec Loyal are the biggest of the bunch at 100 feet with Lahana and Wild Thing coming in a shade under at 98 feet.

In the grand prix 60 foot range, Stephen Ainsworth’s all-conquering RP63 Loki will once again be in the ring with Alan Brierty’s near sistership Limit. The pair has each achieved success this year, Loki locally and Limit abroad and Tuesday will reveal the results of their separate preparations. Both are amongst Kirkjian’s top picks for potential Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winner.

The tight 14 nautical mile course will start off Steele Point at 12.30pm and will take the fleet around the harbour two and a half times passing many of Sydney’s famous landmarks including Fort Denison, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and the Sydney Opera House, which usually backdrops the finish line.

Last year some skippers expressed concern at having to navigate their way through the flotilla of pleasure and commercial craft generated by the popular pre-Christmas harbour event. Responding to their concerns, and with the added on-water traffic due to Oprah-mania, mariners are asked to be cautious and remain well clear.

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