Gladstone race yachts chase elusive record
Sixty five years ago Brisbane Businessman George Pickers set a trailblazing course into Australian ocean racing history when he steered his former Sydney Harbour racing yacht Hoana to win line honours in the inaugural Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race.
Hoana completed the course in 47hrs 8mins 25secs winning the prestigious first to finish trophy by the comfortable margin of 2hrs 39mins over the Stan Spencer helmed yawl Mahra while Brisbane Grocery chain owner Joe Manahan filled third place with Sarie Marais I.
The year was 1949 when a small fleet of seven yachts set sail from the Humpybong Jetty before weaving a slow course to depart Moreton Bay via the Caloundra Fairway buoy.
Conditions on board were primitive with the crews forced to share their below deck accommodation with spray drenched sails and a crate of noisy homing pigeons which were released to carry position reports back to the race control centre.
Some pigeons made the flight home while others were reported to have met their demise in a cooking pot when the food supplies dwindled.
Shortly before Hoana entered her third day at sea, her crew triumphantly sailed into Gladstone Harbour on Easter Sunday and was greeted with a tumultuous welcome from the citizens of Gladstone.
Her record average speed of a little over 6.5 knots remained unchallenged until the Alf Huybers owned and Norman Wright junior skippered Flying Saucer, powered with much stronger spinnaker sailing trade winds, busted the record by almost six hours when she completed the course with an average speed of 7.46 knots.
The 20hrs 24mins and 50secs race record set by the Grant Wharington skippered Skandia Wild Thing in 2004 following a thrilling speed sailing match race with the smaller Sean Langman skippered Grundig stands at a super fast 15.09 knots.
The recently modified Wild Thing featured in a war of words when she was officially denied a start in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race on Boxing Day.
However, skipper Grant Wharington has entered this year’s blue water classic with the purpose of defending her narrow line honours win last year over the Peter Harburg owned and Mark Bradford skippered pocket Maxi Black Jack.
Black Jack which set unmatched boat speed on a thrilling ride along the ocean shoreline of Fraser Island on Good Friday night continued to drench her crew in spray when she power sailed away from the fleet to become the 64th overall winner of the Prestigious sterling silver Courier Mail Cup.
This was a personal triumph for her popular owner Peter Harburg who as a small boy witnessed the inaugural race start in 1949.
His father the internationally acclaimed ABC sport broadcaster Clive Harburg officially broadcast the start and the finish of the initial Blue water classic.
Black Jack which capped a brilliant year of racing in 2012 with her IRC Class win in the Rolex Sydney Hobart race has also been officially entered to defend her 2012 Qantaslink Brisbane Gladstone victory.
Her expected line honours duel with Grant Wharington’s super maxi Wild Thing will be among the highlights of this year’s QantasLink blue water classic when another interesting fleet including the possible record challengers Wild Thing and Black Jack set the tactical strategy in place to complete the course off Auckland Creek before the record time expires at 7:35:10 on Easter Saturday morning 30 March.
___/) /) /)___
No point to prove
Highly talented sailing coach Adrian Finglas unfairly sacked from the Australian Olympic program after our Nation’s most successful Medal haul has thankfully been retained in Queensland.
Brisbane businessman Kevin Miller, who will take up a second term as Commodore of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron later this year, has played a major roll for the Internationally successful Adrian Finglas to fulfil the important coaching position at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.
Finglas, who has the distinction of coaching promising junior sailors to win World championships, gained valuable experience as an Australian team Coach winning a Silver Medal at the Beijing Olympic’s in 2008 and Gold with the Disabled crew of Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch during the 2012 Olympic regatta in London.
___/) /) /)___
Alegria V heads Surf to City fleet
Dual Audi Australian Ocean racing champion Rod Jones and his A5 Alegria V crew again showed they can master a long and tedious slog against unfavourable hot headwinds to win line honours in the Surf to City race last month.
Alegria V designed by Englishman Hugh Welbourn started the 93.6nm Southport to Sandgate race as the short-priced line honours favourite and did not disappoint her supporters in what proved to be a supreme test of head wind sailing into a typical low velocity summer sea breeze.
The highly talented crew racing under the Maroochy Sailing Club burgee again expressed their skill to excel in the ‘slug fest’ to eventually score an over the horizon line honours victory ahead of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s J133 Patriot (Tony Love ) and the Chris Morgan helmed J130 Ragtime.
While the slog against a variable 12-16 knot sea breeze was hot and slow offering the crew little relief as they tacked along the ocean beaches of Stradbroke and Moreton Islands their purpose always remained with sailing on the gaining tack.
Their course involved tacking towards the first line of the surf before heading to the safer and deeper waters offshore, however, the sail trimmers who lost count of the endless number of times they tacked understood every metre gained meant they were moving closer to the finish.
They had weathered Cape Moreton and cooler post dusk hours provided relief from the heat when they finally entered Moreton Bay to set the spinnaker for the run to the finish.
When Alegria V crossed with a course time of 13hrs 34mins 40secs her crew then focused on the corrected IRC handicap results.
They had sailed a tactically clever race but the lower handicapped Patriot helmed by Brisbane to Noumea race winner Tony Love managed to protect her rating to deny the Alegria V crew from making a clean sweep of the IRC class trophies.
Patriot’s winning margin of 1.89 seconds per nautical mile proved the difference between the two experienced crews in what proved to be a close corrected handicap result.
Only 16mins 23secs separated Patriot, Alegria V, Ragtime and the Mark Bradford helmed Black Jack Too in the race which tested the patience and light wind tactical skill of all crews who are preparing to draw their battle lines on the 308nm QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone course over the Easter weekend.
Mooloolaba sailing academy coach Rob Lea and his Audi sponsored Sunshine Coast young guns crew showed they were well prepared for the marathon test when they recorded a clean sweep in IRC Division 2.
They beat the highly fancied Scott Murphy skippered Sandgate sloop Out of Orbit for the prized line honours to also record the fastest corrected handicap which was a fitting reward for the ‘rookie’ team of offshore sailors.