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sail-world.com -- The mission of racing veteran Bob Robertson

The mission of racing veteran Bob Robertson    
Wed, 2 Jan 2013

Bob Robertson announced he was on a mission when the flamboyant Sunshine Coast Ocean racing veteran cracked the traditional bottle of champagne over the bow of his new Beneteau first 40 in July 2012.

His primary mission was to have another crack at the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart race hoping to better his career best result of third overall with his Farr 40 Queensland Maid.

Both Bob Robertson and his team of experienced offshore sailors including experienced helmspersons Adam Brown, Mal White, Andrew Wiklund and Shannon Hart were in the box seat provisionally leading the fleet on overall handicap when they slogged into the solid southerly breeze during the first night.

But the forecast arrival of the spinnaker sailing wind swung the race for handicap in favour of the speed sailing maxi’s Wild Oats X1, Ragamuffin/Loyal, Lahana and the inform maxi chasers the inform 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart champion Loki and the 2011 QantasLink Brisbane-Gladstone race winner Black Jack.

When the Mark Richards helmed Wild Oats X1 weathered Green Cape (the entrance to Bass Strait) she was on track to break her one day 18 hour 40 minute 10 second race record set in 2005.

Wild Oats X1 left her line honours rivals struggling when she regularly logged speeds in excess of 25 knots as the crew enjoyed a ‘sleigh ride’ towards the notorious Storm Bay and the entrance to the River Derwent to further lay down their claim for a ‘triple treat’ line honours, race record and fastest corrected handicap time.

It is now history that the outstanding Wild Oats X1 crew handed their 76 rivals another lesson while many veterans including the former Mooloolaba Yacht Club commodore Bob Robertson were again forced to nurse some wounded pride when Wild Oats X1, Loki (Stephen Ainsworth) and the Mark Bradford steered and Peter Harburg owned Black Jack were officially named as the top three corrected handicap performers.

Unfortunately the change in wind direction and velocity ended the overall handicap challenge for Lunchtime Legend but their good start laid the foundation for them to hold a positive chance of winning their Division 3 class trophy overall.

However when the veteran Queensland skipper stepped onto Constitution Dock for the 12th time there was a spring in his step even after spending a mentally and physically tormenting three days 23 hours 43 minute and 41 seconds at sea.

His element of confidence was rewarded when Lunchtime Legend claimed a deserved handicap win in the highly competitive division three.

'It was a tough race, the weather had a few tricks up its sleeve although we did enjoy a 12 hour period of perfect spinnaker sailing conditions,' the veteran skipper said.

During the traditional post race celebrations he threw his salt encrusted sailing boots in a dockside dumpster and joyfully announced that was his last ocean race.

Many of his close friends have heard the same story before and believe Lunchtime Legend will contest the 65th QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone race and the Mooloolaba 200 later this year.

by Ian Grant



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