Welcome to this Olympic edition of Southern Cross Enews.
It is somewhat bleary eyed that I sit at the keyboard this morning after a late night sitting up waiting to watch ‘Local Boy’ Matt Belcher smack the Poms in the 470 class medal race to take the Gold. Except it didn’t happen due to no wind, so like millions of others we waited, watching instead the floor gymnastics. This appears to be a bunch of skinny girls from former eastern bloc countries wriggling around on a mat with some sort of plastic ball. Not the same as the sailing really. And what a week the sport has had with still plenty to come. 2 golds in the bag and another 2 (hopefully) tonight. Looks like another late night ahead. Go Belcher and Page!
And the Olympic Medal race was not the only major yachting event to suffer from lack of wind this past week, with the 6th edition of the Brisbane to Keppel Race another light airs affair. The start was in a light nor’easter, and it wasn’t long before spinnakers were replaced by jibs as the breeze swung to become a patchy nor’easter. Southern Cross Yachting got another cracking start, forcing Wild Oats to the outer end of the start line not wanting dirty air from our towering rig. The long slow beat out of the Bay paused as all the lead boats sailed into a hole and the entire fleet lay becalmed together. So the race started all over again the Wild Oats boys glancing nervously from us to their watches, knowing we had them on corrected time! A fairly slow first night of close reaching under a spectacular full moon saw us around Double Island point around daybreak in close company with all the 40 footers in our class. Buoyed by the news that we were 1st overall on PHS we traded places with Mondo (Sydney 38), Bluebottle (Beneteau 47.7) and our old enemy Blunderbuss (First 40) as we spent the day under light kites, whale watching without a permit. We rounded Breaksea Spit light around midnight and the 130 mile drag race to the finish began. Slowly. A long slow night under another spectacular moon passed with us keeping pace or passing all our rivals. By 10 am the 40 foot fleet was parked again and one by one motors were started and boats retired to get to the party or airport. After last years ‘Did Not Finish’ we were determined to get there this year and we chased every zephyr with our windseeker headsail until the light westerly came in, not surprisingly, from the west. 60 miles upwind to the finish line and we set to work chasing down Gauntlet, some 5 miles in front of us. Our average speed was around 2 knots as we watched the third sunset of the race. A long discussion about who we would eat first started including a vote! Sarah won that vote as all agreed that the youngest would make the tenderest meal, but thanks to the emergency stash of frozen pies in the bottom of the fridge, Sarah was spared! The crew sat on the rail and trimmed like veterans all night as we hunted down Gauntlet and our second place trophy. 3 sail changes and a fog bank kept us entertained during the last hour and we crossed the line at 7.50 am taking out 2nd in division 2 PHS and 5th overall. Exhausted and elated we tied up, received our pineapple and headed up to the presentation and breakfast. A special mention to the crew of ‘Bad Habits’ who persevered and finished at 5 am on Tuesday morning. A great effort and they didn’t even eat anyone. Congratulations to the Southern Cross Yachting crew Peter, Tom, Sarah, Charlotte, Graham, Jo, and of course the idol of teenage bowman everywhere, Craig. Finally to answer the ship/yacht loch conundrum, it would take more water to fill the loch with a yacht than a ship. But I am sure I stand to be corrected! We still have a few places for the Brisbane to Airlie Beach and return 7 day trips. The Brisbane to Airlie departs Manly on the 28/8 and will arrive on the 3/9. The return trip departs 7/9 arriving in Brisbane on the 14th of September. At only $1650 /person this has to be the best value cruise in Queensland! That’s all for this edition, until next time. Gold, Gold, Gold for sailing! Cheers Mike Job.