Sunshine Coast sailors tackle the Tasman
Highly skilled Sunshine Coast ocean racing sailors David Biggar and Jack Mason will miss the usual friendly family Boxing Day celebrations when they line up to contest the 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart race on the exciting 20.12m maxi-chaser Black Jack.
However, there may be some Christmas Day ‘left-overs’ secretly packed in their sea-bag when the impressive Peter Harburg owned Black Jack competes in the physically demanding 630 nautical mile classic starting on Boxing Day.
Black Jack has made an impressive debut in Australian offshore racing since she was imported from America in late June.
The impressively fast Reichel-Pugh designed sloop fitted with the latest canting-keel technology and rigged with an extensive wardrobe of North Sails came through her first serious test winning the prestigious Audi Hamilton Island Race Week line honours title over the defending champion Bob Oatley’s Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours champions aboard the smaller Wild Oats X.
This was an unexpected result for the Black Jack crew and skipper Mark Bradford who apart from winning major medals in the Australian Winter Etchells championships at Mooloolaba and contesting the 2008 America’s Cup in Spain had no tactical experience of helming in ‘big boat’ racing arena.
But what the Black Jack crew lacked in collective experience was more than made up with enthusiasm and a neversay- die will to win. Black Jack won the America’s Cupstyle match race against her almost identical rival Wild Oats X by six races to three and a 4 minute 23 second aggregate speed advantage handling a mixed range of winds from fresh and gusty to light and variable.
However, the Wild Oats racing team have become almost invincible over the gruelling Sydney Hobart ‘torture track’ whenever they step onboard the supermaxi Wild Oats Xl.
When Bob Oatley launched Wild Oats Xl in 2005 he was relatively confident that the untried super sloop, like his Admiral’s Cup winner Wild Oats lX, had the design credentials to become a ‘rocket ship’.
His modest confidence has been proved with Mark Richards and the Wild Oats racing team proving to be the masters, winning the past three Sydney Hobart line honours besides winning the race outright on corrected handicap and setting a new record.
The super maxi will again start favourite to defend her title against an impressive fleet of smaller maxi-chasers including Black Jack.
However, the Black Jack crew who are ranked to finish in the top three will have to master the soul searching track before they can make any plans to enjoy a scallop pie and a cold Cascade in Hobart.
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Casey on Volvo World venture
Sunshine Coast sailor Casey Smith recorded an important entry in his personal log book when the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race started the physically demanding Globe Challenge in Alicante, Spain last month.
Casey Smith (29) has been selected as the bowman on the Ken Read skippered Puma for the 11 port 37,000 nautical mile race around the World including weathering the notoriously rough and rugged Cape Horn.
Memories of growing up in a warm and relaxed environment and learning to sail on the more placid waters of Lake Cootharaba and various other Sunshine Coast courses including Mooloolaba before gaining further experience in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race will be placed on hold when he becomes fully focused on his role as the bowman with the Puma Racing Team.
He can expect to face life at the extreme, ranging from sailing through the steamy equatorial doldrums to reaching breathtaking spinnaker sailing speed, racing with the power of the ‘screeching sixties’ along the edge of the ice flow as they head to weather the storm tormented Cape Horn.
The exceptionally durable and talented sailor who has sacrificed the opportunity to enjoy sailing in a far more human friendly environment will complete the first stage of fulfilling a personal career ambition when the Puma Racing Team sight Table Top Mountain and complete the first leg the Volvo Globe Race in South Africa.
There will be no fine dining on board with the crew relying on freeze dried rations to sustain their energy while they settle into spending the off watch on standby in their bunks.
Hope of a strong performance by the Puma Racing Team will depend on how they apply their experience with the prevailing weather conditions. However, they are on the pace after finishing third in the short course In-Port race.
The fleet will then race to the historical port of Cochin in India, then onto Singapore before racing to Quingdao, China the host port and venue for the recent yachting Olympics.
Extra rations will be on the shopping list while the crews will re-evaluate the sail locker as part of the preparations for the physically demanding 12,300 nautical miles, tracking a course from Quingdao back over the Equator and into the inhospitable waters of The Great Southern Ocean towards the marine graveyard of Cape Horn.
The crews will then face a little over 2,000 nautical miles before they can step onto dry land in the party port of Rio de Janeiro Brazil to enjoy a well deserved break and re-access their tactics before completing the race in St Petersburg in March 2009.
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Darts at Mooloolaba
Audi Australian IRC class sailing champions Rod Jones and Kai Timm have not rested on their laurels since winning their National Ocean racing title at Hamilton Island in August 2007.
It’s been business as usual over the past 13 months with the principals of Oceanburo Performance Sailing successfully introducing a fleet of Dart SB3 one-design sports boats into Queensland with their home base at the Mooloolaba Dinghy Sailing Club.
This fast and exciting class has proved popular on the international sailing circuit with Kai Timm, Greg Macallansmith and Chris Annear representing Australia at the World championship in Ireland during September where they finished 13th in the Silver fleet after a disappointing start in the qualifying races.
However, the intense nature of the competition has provided Team Noosa and Tasqua Youth Squad coach Kai Timm with an important insight into the sail-fast aspects of the class. Timm has returned from Ireland and resumed his coaching role on the Noosa River as he prepares for another very busy sailing season including encouraging and educating first time school age sailors how to sail safe and free with the wind in the fleet of Vagabond dinghies.
He will also combine his coaching skills with Australian Olympic coach Adrian Finglas when Oceanburo launch their SB3 Dart class racing off Mooloolaba Beach this month.
Both exceptionally talented coaches will continue to be involved with improving the technique and tactical skills of the crews in preparation for the Queensland Championships raced in conjunction with the International Sail Brisbane regatta on the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron courses in late November.
Finglas who coached Dan Fitzgibbon and Rachel Cox to win the Sonar class Silver Medal at the Beijing Para-Olympic regatta has accepted to contest the 2009 World Dart SB3 championship in Portugal with Rod Jones and Greg Macallansmith.
“Australian sailors are continuing to accept the Dart SB3 with another three boats sold last month including one on the Gold Coast,” Rod Jones said.
This interest will continue to grow, as the race results in the strict nature of this ‘clone class’ sports boat are not decided under a handicap system but purely on the tactical skills and combined sail handling technique of the crew.
Every crew has an even chance off the start line with equal boat speed with all races decided by the crew who make the least number of human related errors.
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Airlie Corsair crew win National Medal
Whitsunday Sailing Club sailors Bruce Carter, Jim Hayes and Klaus Lorenz proved their collective enthusiasm and skill when they won the Silver Medal at the 2008 Australian Corsair championship on Brisbane’s Bramble Bay in early October.
The trio of two experienced ‘old salts’ and the very talented schoolboy Klaus Lorenz forced the defending champion Aaron Hunt to apply a protective tactical cover on the tropical team to retain his domination of the National championship.
Aaron Hunt was a clear cut winner of the 2007 Nationals contested over the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron courses on Waterloo Bay and he and his crew were again expected to romp away with this series.
However, the Whitsunday crew who revamped a race weary old boat and renamed her The Thong proved the strength of Corsair class sailing in North Queensland when they extended the skill of the National champion.
“Klaus is a very smart sailor for his age and I’m sure the experience of racing in a different class at an unfamiliar venue will prove invaluable when he contests the 2008-9 Australian Sabot championship off Airlie Beach over the Christmas-New Year,” Hayes said.