by Ian Grant
Whitsunday Sailing Club skipper Colin Pruden proved his aging Kim Swarbrick designed sloop Sandpiper Wutba still has the handicap rated speed to race against the best cruising class yachts in Australia.
Sandpiper (Colin Pruden) holds a handy windward cover on Idle Time (Kevin Fogarty) - Whitsunday Sailing Club Twilight Series 2010
Sandpiper which has raced under several owners in the Whitsunday Sailing Club point score events went within one point of winning the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week Division 2 Cruising class championship last Friday.
Both Colin Pruden and his crew of Whitsunday Sailing Club mates including Mick Phillips who had shown their rivals how to race against strong wind and savage current were in the thick of the tactical action duelling for a possible win when a typical glass-out forced officials to abandon the final race on Saturday.
When they motor/sailed onto Dent Passage on Saturday morning the enthusiastic Colin Pruden believed they had a chance to win the series after recording a 7-4-11-3 in the physically demanding island passage races contested in moderate to fresh and frightening winds.
Unfortunately after the breeze blew to a recorded 32 knots during the week there was barely enough reliable breeze to raise a ripple on Dent Passage when the final race was officially abandoned.
Prior to that the Peter Maitz helmed Beneteau 50 Leonardo racing under the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club burgee held a one point advantage after winning the Long Island Passage race on Friday while Sandpiper finished third missing out second place by 20 seconds.
While Saturday’s abandoned race denied the local crew the opportunity to show their rivals how to maintain boat speed when racing in light wind and against current Colin Pruden was happy with his result. 'It would have been nice to have had a crack at them but I’m happy with our result' He said.
The racing was close with Sandpiper missing third place in race two by seven seconds and tenth place in race four by twenty seconds had those results been reversed then the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week championship trophy would now be displayed among the club trophies already won by Colin Pruden and crew.
Sandpiper returns to racing in club point score events on Pioneer Bay with a threat of attracting a handicap penalty however her popular skipper has shown he is tactically prepared to meet the challenge.