Welcome to this Brisbane to Keppel race report edition of Southern Cross Yachting Enews.
The 10th edition of the great race proved to be the one we had all been waiting for. Yes this year we had wind – lots and lots of wind. With a gale warning in place the day before the race and many dogs missing from the end of their chains, there was a mixture of trepidation and expectation amongst the competitors. There was the usual suspects ‘talking it up’ (naturally I would never participate in that kind of bravado) but generally most of us were salivating at the forecast. The great day dawned and after our annual call from the Prime Minister wishing us luck 🙂 we headed out onto the race course.
A very different start from other years (one year it took us 3 hours to sail the first mile) there was a fairly conservative approach in the pre-start manoeuvring. We opted for the boat end of the line, forcing our main rival Wild Oats XI to take the pin end. With the breeze a steady 25 knots from the ESE at the start we opted for the Asso and a reef in the main sailing the angles out of the bay, having a great battle with Chris Morgan and the crew on Ragtime. We cleared the Caloundra Fairway buoy around 3.30pm (sorry 1530- we were on a boat) and settled into the watch system as I selflessly made dinner for the crew. As the sun set we were 5 miles south of Noosa – our PB in 20 B2G/B2K races aboard the blue boat. (Wild Oats was halfway up Fraser Island by then, some 60 miles ahead of us – but watching us closely on the tracker no doubt). Out of the lee of Moreton Island the sea was starting to stand up and the wind was touching 30 knots so we tucked our shirt tails into our underpants, cuddled our teddies and poled out the headsail. That night we had some of the best and most exciting sailing we have ever had on Oceans. Up around Indian Head, the seas were regularly over 4 metres, the wind under the clouds was hitting 40 knots, and we were regularly getting rides of 16-17 knots – our best surf was 19.6. Sadly bowman Craig (aka the teenage idol) was driving at the time and it entertained him to remind me every 20 mins for the rest of the race.
Just after sunset, the DK 46 ‘Khaleesi’ dropped their rig, but displayed fine seamanship in getting it sorted out and the boat safe in very difficult conditions.
As dawn broke Saturday morning we were just south of Sandy Cape with Carbon Credits in sight in front of us and the “Beach Balls’ (the Beneteau 40’s) had jumped about 8 miles ahead. Our nemesis, the Sayer 40 ‘Frantic’, was some 23 miles ahead. We knew we were in for a big day in the office to pull them back. With the breeze just aft of the beam we sailed fast under Asso until Breaksea Spit, rounding the mark at 7.22 am (0722 I mean…) some 17 hours earlier than the year before. With 147 miles of straight line sailing to the bar we put the throttle down and literally worked our A#@*’s off, changing to the heavy square kite as the wind went further behind us. The last 70 miles was classic BH41 sailing – the pole right back, 10 degrees by the lee and the boom in the air. We were trucking and the boats on the horizon in front of us were getting bigger all day. And 2114 (about quarter past 9 🙂 )we were abeam Cape Capricorn and back on the Interweb and we saw that we were 2nd in class and had pulled 4 miles back out of the Beach Balls and 22 miles out of frantic! Game on!
The next 30 miles to the finish made me as proud of this crew as any I have ever sailed with. They bent their backs over the winches and sailed the stick out of the old girl. We were going to hang onto our podium and get Frantic over the line or die trying. We passed Frantic with 15 miles to the finish and the last 6 miles was edge of the seat stuff as the breeze softened and our main competition for 2nd, the Farr 36 ‘Georgia Express’ was in the Clubhouse. We crossed the finish line at 0045 – 39 minutes behind Carbon Credits and 28 minutes in front of Frantic, to finish 10th overall and 3rd in our division – our 5th podium in 9 races.
As we tied up we wondered if we had done the same race as everyone else! The dock was alive with tales of Chinese Gybes, broken poles and shredded sails. We hadn’t broken a fingernail and apart from the crew badly needing a shower, we could have turned right around and started the race again.
Huge congratulations to Darren, Craig, Gordo and particularly to Peter, Debbie, Darryl and Joe completing their first offshore race. Well done team – it was a very proud skipper that accepted our wine at presentation the next day. A great race, and another great result for Southern Cross Yachting.
If you want to be on the team for next year, now is a great time to start preparing, so give Di or Faye a call in the office to discuss what training will best suit you.
That’s all for this edition, until next time talk it up!
Cheers Mike.

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