Port Philip Bay will be awash with colour as the 100-strong fleet race past major bayside locations, putting on a magnificent show for spectators and sailors alike.
The race starts at 10:30 on Boxing Day (Monday 26 December) near Station Pier in Port Melbourne and will pass close to St Kilda Pier, Brighton Pier, Sandringham, and the Hampton foreshore, finishing at Mornington Yacht Club, providing plenty of vantage points for spectators relaxing along the shoreline.
It will be hectic on the water from the get-go with plenty of pressure piled on the long start line. Winning the start in such a large fleet will be tough so expect skippers to claim and defend a lane well before the gun, while a few of the adventurous ones might try a port tack approach to find a hole on the line.
Ari Abrahams will be hoping for a late Christmas gift and a clean start in his pursuit of a third overall race win on the trot for his X yacht, Xpresso, however, he will be facing fierce competition from the large and diverse fleet.
Favourites for line honours include Antony Walton’s Reichel/Pugh 46, Hartbreaker, Gerry Cantwell’s Marten 49, Carrera S, Kevin Curtis and Jimmy Oosterweghel’s Class 40 yacht, Lord Jiminy, and Rob Date’s sleek racing boat, the Carkeek 43, Scarlet Runner.
The Cock of the Bay Yacht Race serves as a feeder race for this year’s 50th Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race which starts at 12 noon the following day, so Abrahams can expect some tough competition from the anniversary fleet which will be consolidating boat procedures and refining their crew work before their run down to Hobart.
The race includes divisions for monohulls, multihulls, double handed and cruising non-spinnaker boats under AMS, ORCc, IRC and PHS handicaps.
The weather forecast is for a light southerly breeze of around six knots at the start of the race, which is likely to favour the lighter sports boats, building to 15 to 20 knots as the race progresses. Particular interest will focus on various races within the race such as the five Beneteau First 40s fighting tooth and nail: Mark Welsh’s Wicked, Jim Leckey’s Oobleck, Nick Foa’s Protagonist, David Morrell’s Just Chillin’ and Ashley Trebilock’s Bandit.
The fleet will include several Melbourne to Hobart contenders from Tasmania with top performances expected from Brent McKay’s Bakewell-White Z39, Jazz Player, which has good form against the mostly Victorian fleet, and Richard Grant’s Knoop 39, Cromarty Magellan.
While the Tasmanian sailors may be in good form, there’s nothing like the benefit of local knowledge, so watch out for the street smarts of Mark Nicholson and his crew on the J121, Javelin, while Steve Twentyman’s Hanse 505, Shimmer, will give the race a good shake especially as the wind builds.
Contenders in the double-handed division include ORCV Past Commodore, Grant Dunoon sailing the Moody 54 Ds, Blue Water Tracks, also a Melbourne to Hobart contender, Dan Morrow’s 11 Metre One Design, Affirmative Action, which placed second in the Festival of Sails in both 2021 and 2022, and Greg Laing’s Beneteau Oceanis 43, Letoile.
The race record for monohulls was set in 2020 by Extasea in a time of time of 4 hours, 2 minutes and 9 seconds.
The race is also a favourite for sailors and their families, with many using the event as a sailing sendoff prior to the start of the Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race.
Damien King, skipper of the Frers 61, Margaret Rintoul V, says the boat will be chock a block with family and friends for the race. “We will be taking every family member that’s in Melbourne out for the race – it’s so much fun and it will be great to sail in such a big fleet,” said King.
For Entry, Notice of Race and List of Entries, please visit: https://www.orcv.org.au/sailing/races/boxingday-dash-cock-of-the-bay
Jane Austin/ORCV media