by Ian Grant
Brisbane to Gladstone.
Hooligan - Brisbane to Gladstone
The race clock ticked against the big boats when the true trade wind freshened to blow the smaller yachts into contention to claim the Qantaslink Brisbane to Gladstone race on corrected handicap overnight.
As expected the inform former Emirates New Zealand TP52, the Marcus Blackmore helmed Hooligan, which finished third 5 hours 19 minutes 38 seconds astern of line honours winner Lahana (Peter Millard) at 10-32 last night remained as the provisional handicap leader.
However the Hooligan crew who convincingly won the short course regattas in Victoria and New South Wales,to lead the Audi Australian championship, stood as the crew to beat with their corrected time of 1 day 21 hours 6 minutes 18 seconds.
While the high performance Hooligan racing team remained relatively confident, their course time was under threat from the smaller and lower handicapped yachts as they surf sailed before the building South East breeze.
Jeff Paul’s Gladstone Farr 30 RBS Morgans Immigrant and the Craig Coulson helmed Brisbane yacht Trumpcard benefitting from the freshening breeze were only separated by the narrow margin of 54 seconds when they weathered Bustard Head with 32 nautical miles to sail at 3am this morning.
Both totally different yachts consistently logged nine knots which gave them the chance but the result will hinge on how fast they sail the final 10 nautical miles against the outgoing tide flowing from Gladstone Harbour.
Progressive calculations indicated a close finish possibly challenging the closest on record when the two match racing IOR Half Tonners Scampi A and Silver Shamrock were split by 26 seconds in 1984 but meanwhile Hooligan stands as the yacht to beat.
Brisbane to Gladstone