Well what a wonderful weekend of sport if you are an Australian! For both my readers in the UK, you may wish to delete this newsletter now. I refer of course to the magnificent win at Lords by Michael Clarke and the team. The only thing better than beating the Pom’s at home is humiliating them at home. They were, as the King put it, ‘Destroyed’. Add to that the Wallabies last second win over the ‘Boks’ and of course news overnight of three time world professional surfing champion Mick Fanning’s win over a 3 metre white pointer shark at the J-Bay open in South Africa. And look at the Davis cup in Darwin! After the overpaid superstar brats were too preoccupied with their twitter accounts and hair styles and so lost their opening singles matches, it was left to 57 year old Lleyton Hewitt to leap the fence and win all 3 remaining games to win the rubber. Well, Ok, but still a great effort by the old boy.

But there is no respite for the diehard sports fan with several Aussies in the hunt in the British Open, the Tour De France entering its last week and then it’s off to Edgbaston for the third test.

And of course we are only 9 days away from the biggest sporting event of the year – the Brisbane to Keppel tropical yacht race. And once again Southern Cross Yachting will be on the start line. This is the 9th edition of the race and the 8th consecutive race for our BH41 Oceans.

As excitement builds for the great race, I take time to reflect on the race and look at its history through the eyes of a competitor. The race was conceived by then RQYS Vice Commodore Russell McCart who was looking to establish a signature offshore race for the club. It made sense to time it so that yachts doing the Sydney to Southport race could use the race to continue on to the Whitsunday race weeks.

The time of year often brings either strong south westers or light and variable conditions making the race a challenging contest of tide and wind tactics. The first night is typically the coldest night’s sailing each year for us Queenslanders but 24 hours later we are in shorts and t-shirts as we pass the Tropic of Capricorn. A race of two seasons with arguably the most scenic last 30 miles of any yacht race on earth.

The turquoise water, spectacular islands and wildlife make the finishing stretch glorious by day, but a navigator’s nightmare at night, with the greatest challenge finding the finishing line against the background lights of Yeppoon’s tourist strip with its hotels, night clubs and casinos.

14 yachts faced the starter for the inaugural race on the 3rd of August 2007 with the fleet finishing off Great Keppel Island. The Volvo 60 ‘Getawaysailing.com’ took line honours in a time of 1 day 14 hours and 18 minutes. Bill Wild’s Wedgetail won both IRC and PHS over all.

For the second edition of the race the resort at Keppel Island had closed and the finish line was moved some 7 miles west to outside Rosslyn Bay. The owners of Keppel Bay Marina, Libby and Richard became sponsors of the race and have been welcoming the fleet every year since. 23 yachts started with Black Jack setting the new course record of one day, 9 hours and 13 minutes. The RP66 was also first overall in both 1RC and PHS. We on board Southern Cross Yachting had an inauspicious race finishing 16th over the line and 18th overall.

The 3rd race saw 26 boats hit the line with Blackjack lowering her own race record by under 4 hours and winning IRC overall for the second year in a row. PHS overall was won by veteran skipper Sir Robbo Robertson on his Farr 40 Cracklin Rosie.

The 2010 race saw one of the closest finishes in the history of offshore racing with the 100 foot Lahana pipping Wild Oats Ten by just 22 seconds after 346 miles of racing. Lahana also took Black Jack’s record by 2 hours lowering it to 1 day 3 hours 11 minutes. Wild Oats X got their revenge by winning IRC overall and Local Hero won PHS. The 34 entrants were also a record fleet that was only equalled in 2014. On Southern Cross we were 27th over the line, 4th overall and 3rd in division.

In 2011 the 32 boat fleet included two hundred footers, Lahana and Sydney to Hobart winner Wild Oats XI. WO11 took line honours in a time of 24 hours 22 minutes and 18 seconds, a record that stands to this day. Whilst the big boats enjoyed fresh easterlies for the whole course the back end of the fleet were becalmed and after drifting for 24 hours yachts retired including Southern Cross Yachting. We motored to the finish and the party! Lahana won IRC overall and the TP52 Woteva was first overall in PHS.

2012 SAW Wild Oats 11 amongst the 26 starters, returning to defend their title and they did so in style wining line honours, IRC and PHS overall. On Southern Cross we had a great tussle with the First 40 Blunderbuss pushing us to finish 13th over the line, 5th overall and 2nd in division.

For the 7th edition 28 yachts started under the watchful eye of Race Officer Dennis Thompson. Grant Warrington’s 100 foot Hobart winner Wild Thing was first over the line with RQYS Member Tony Kinsmen’s first 40 Blunderbuss becoming only the second ‘small boat’ to win IRC overall in the race’s history. And Southern Cross Yachting won PHS overall! We were 17th over the line and 1st both in division and overall. We also won the Navigators prize for closest ETA from Cape Capricorn. This year was also the first for an ORCi division and this was won by Yeppoon local boy Tim McCall in Arcadia.

Last year’s 8th race had a record equalling fleet of 34 yachts and Wild Oats 11 was back to retain her title. She took line honours but missed out on lowering her own race record. The J130 Ragtime was a popular winner of IRC overall, The Healer took PHS and the Tasmanian First 45 Audere won ORCi.

So who will win this year? Blackjack should be an unbackable favourite for line honours with WO11 in the US, but the overall places are wide open. One thing is for sure you can be part of this great race as we still have a few places left. The package includes two days race training this coming weekend so jump on the email now to secure your place ($1570).

We also have places available on the Keppel to Brisbane offshore trip departing Keppel Bay on 30 July. (5 days $1440)

That’s all for this edition, I will be back with more race news, gossip and innuendo ahead of the start next week

Cheers Mike Job

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