Welcome to another 20th year in business Southern Cross Yachting Enews.

Between Wimbledon, the Tour de France, the Aussie skipper of the Kiwi boat beating the Aussie skipper of the USA boat in the America’s Cup, and those two chaps beating each other up in the middle of Lang Park last weekend, we have been awash with sport lately. We should enjoy it whilst we can because, thanks to the Australian Cricket Board acting with all the diplomacy skills of Kim Jong-un, there won’t be much cricket to watch this summer. With the TV timetables all committed and no players, are we looking forward to five days of the cameras panning around the empty Gabba, whilst Mark Taylor, Shane Warne and Ian Chappell commentate on the grass growing? They are eminently qualified to do this mind you…

But the biggest annual sporting event is only weeks away. Sports fans love a grudge match, a true gladiatorial match up. Look at the Horn – Pacman fight (we all dream of punching a Senator in the face and Jeff got to actually do it!).  Look at Froome vs Ritchie Porte in the Tour. Former team mates, now fierce rivals, battling it out on France’s highest peaks, with poor Ritchie not only having to cycle up those big mountains, but he has to do it carrying the expectation of every Australian push bike rider on his narrow shoulders. At Wimbledon, we watched Bernard Tomic vs his towering ego, but that was no contest really.

It is the annual battles between old rivals that really fire the passion in sports fans – The State of Origin, the Bledisloe Cup and the biggest one of them all – Wild Oats 11 vs Southern Cross Yachting in the Brisbane to Keppel yacht race. Yes folks, the Wild Oats boys are back again and looking to end nearly a decade of dominance in the PHS division by Southern Cross Yachting. Over the past 8 races The Wild Oats program have brought both the 66 and 100 footers north to try and beat ‘The Little Blue Burglar’ from Queensland. Each year they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and months in the refit shed, not to win the Hobart race, as is widely thought, but to lower the colours of the races most storied competitor.

Yachting, like cycling, can be mysterious to the casual observer. Just as the guy who crosses the line in the Tour may not get the yellow jersey, in sailing, the first boat over the line is not necessarily the winner. This is determined by handicap ratings of which there are two main ones. IRC – the ‘supposed’ grand prix division has only a handful of entries. These handicaps are formulated by measurement using a computer program and the winner of this receives the ‘Pineapple Cup’. The other is PHS – this is like a golf handicap, every boat gets one and they are made up by a friend of mine. The winner of this division gets the rough end of the pineapple.

Yes the Wild Oats boys may have won line honours every year they have raced, broken their own record many times and won the Pineapple Cup overall, but they have never beaten Southern Cross Yachting in PHS. It must be becoming like their personal Everest to climb.

Organisers are expecting over half a billion viewers globally to watch this battle unfold live on the Yellow Brick tracker. Of course for the crew of Wild Oats (and a breathless world) the hardest part comes once they have finished, as their agonising wait begins for Southern Cross to finish, seeing if they have saved their time. They normally distract themselves by having a nice long crew lunch, a good night’s sleep, taking all the racing sails off, put all the cruising gear on board, then sailing the boat the 300 miles to Hamilton Island before flying home to Sydney to watch us finish on the tracker.

Stay tuned and we will bring you updates on our preparation, as we count down to the start of the Race in a few weeks.

As much fun as it is to race along this beautiful coastline, it is a pity that we don’t have time to enjoy it at a more leisurely pace. The 5 day return trip from Keppel to Brisbane departing on Wednesday 9th August is a great opportunity to enjoy this special bit of coastline whilst gaining your first offshore experience or completing passages for your Yachtmaster exam. The trip takes us south along the coast into Hervey Bay, through the Sandy Straits, then over the Wide Bay Bar for another 100 miles along the coast back into Moreton bay. It is also suitable for a Coastal Skipper practical course. The trip costs $1565 and includes all meals and accommodation on board plus the ability to say that you have sailed on the only boat that Wild Oats 11 can’t beat.

That’s all for this edition and remember – if you don’t talk yourself up, no one else will.


Mike Job.

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