by Ian Grant
Brisbane to Gladstone Race 2011. Highly experienced Sydney ocean racing skippers Ray Roberts (Evolution Racing) and Marcus Blackmore (Hooligan) will provide Mooloolaba’s dual Audi Australian champion Rod Jones (Alegria) with a supreme test in the 308n/ml Brisbane to Gladstone Race over the Easter weekend.
Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta 2011, Middle Harbour Yacht club, Sydney - 4-7/03/2011 HOOLIGAN
Ray Roberts winner of the prestigious 63 year old Courier Mail Cup in 2008 and 2009 and a runaway nine point winner of the equally important Audi Hamilton Island Race Week championship with a borrowed Farr 42 last August brings a high standard to the physically and tactically demanding blue water classic.
Skipper Roberts principal navigator Richard Hudson have a successful personal understanding of what is required to master the tricky tactical nature of the race and realise the importance of having the challenge in good shape when they weather the Fairway Buoy off Caloundra on Good Friday afternoon.
Naturally the Gladstone Race success of skipper Ray Roberts and his high performance Evolution Racing crew will command respect but that alone will not protect them from the equally impressive skippers and crews riding the weather rail on Hooligan and Alegria.
All three radically different designed yachts possess winning potential which places a heavy workload on the individual crews to make every second count in a race which has a history of sorting the best from the rest.
The Sunshine Coast crew who produced an outstanding performance to claim class honours in the longer 348n/ml Club Marine Brisbane to Keppel race last August deserve to share post race favouritism with the Hooligan and Evolution Racing combinations.
Skipper Rod Jones and his clever young tactician Shaun O’Rourke are fully aware that their rival New South Wales crews have not entered Queensland’s premier ocean race without a thought on becoming the 2011 champions.
Marcus Blackmore executive chairman of Australia’s leading natural healthcare company Blackmore’s Limited has set a new standard since winning major short course races in New South Wales and Victoria after purchasing the TP 52 class sloop from New Zealand’s Black Magic syndicate.
They enter the Brisbane to Gladstone race as a progressive class leader in the 2011 Audi Australian ocean racing series however skipper Marcus Blackmore who has previously tested his skill as the navigator on former line honours champion Hammer of Queensland is well aware that this race promises to be more than a warm and friendly cruise.
He and his Hooligan crew are a front line contender with the proven handicap rated boat speed however they stand to be challenged to repeat their southern regatta success against a very competitive fleet including Evolution Racing, Alegria and the low handicap rated Queensland Cruising Yacht Club sloops Cherana (Euan MacDonald) and Pagan (Peter Kerr).
Cherana winner of the 1959 Sydney Hobart Race and her sister design Pagan winner of the Gladstone race 47 years ago promise to stage a private match race at the back end of the fleet however the traditional wooden deep keel sloops have the proven potential to threaten their modern rivals.