by Ian Grant
Former Australian World Youth championship Laser skipper Curtis Skinner has made a successful transition from single handed dinghies to ocean racing.
A young Curtis Skinner back in 2009
The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron member has not rested on his laurels since representing Australia at the Volvo World Youth championships while gaining valuable experience on the physically demanding ocean racing circuit.
He already has the distinction of being a winning crew member in Queensland’s premier blue water classic the Brisbane to Gladstone Race and has successfully completed three Rolex Sydney Hobart races.
On Good Friday Morning he will pack his sea bag onboard the Bill Wild owned and skippered Wedgetail along with a group of high profile sailors including Hobart race veterans Ian Davis Kevin Costin, Ashley Deeks and highly experienced New South Wales yachtswoman Vanessa Dudley.
As expected Billl Wild has made no secret about his ambition to win his second Brisbane to Gladstone Race and has the crew manning the important sail handling on deck to produce the required boat speed to allow the exciting Wedgetail to outpace her handicap rating.
Their line honours win in the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race in January suggests Wedgetail will be on the pace to pose a threat when they go head to head with the equally impressive 2012 Qantaslink Brisbane to Gladstone winner the Mark Bradford skippered Black Jack.
The Black Jack crew fresh from their outstanding corrected handicap class win in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race last December understandably enter the 308 n/ml ‘Drag Race’ to Gladstone full of confidence.
However there is a strong indication that the high profile Black Jack crew will need to reproduce their 2012 race form to ward off the challenge from the equally aggressive Wedgetail racing team.
This will be the first time that both crews have placed their respected reputations on the line in what promises to become a tactical dogfight for the honour of having the name of their yacht engraved on the 65 year old Courier Mail Cup.
The form of Black Jack who became the first yacht in history to record a class win in the Rolex Sydney Hobart and a Gladstone Race victory in the same year deserves to be the pre-race favourite.
But they will be drawn to respect the equally determined Wedgetail crew who will be determined to give the popular owner skipper Bill Wild the chance to emulate his win in 2010.
This also embraces a challenge for Curtis Skinner who will man the navigators nook to become tactically with the race strategy to allow Wedgetail to produce the required handicap rated boat speed to win a boat on boat mate against mate arm wrestle over the race favourite Black Jack.