Lord Howe Island Yacht Race

  • March 31, 2014

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. 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.

Starting from Broken Bay, just south of Gosford, the fleet first will head north to a rounding 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 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. 

Each of the participating vessels will have a YB installed on board. They will wake up every fifteen minutes to report the GPS position, speed and direction along with several other items of information. This is transmitted to the Iridium satellite network and to YB HQ servers. All the data is then visualised on the race tracker so friends, family and supporters can follow the fleets progress.

For more information on this race please visit Gosford Sailing Club website.

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