by Ian Grant
Vaughan Prentice and Mark Bradford, recognised among Australia’s smartest Etchells one-design racing skippers, have teamed up to contest the 2012 World championship on Sydney Harbour later this month.
Mark Bradford (AUS1317), Craig Healy (USA 946) and Jud Smith (USA1061)- Audi Etchells Worlds 2006
The Brisbane North sail-loft business partners and key crewmembers in the Black Jack Ocean racing team finished the 2011 sailing season on a high note playing an important crew role when Investec Loyal scored a surprise line honours win over the Mark Richards skippered Wild Oats Xl in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
Skipper Mark Bradford already has the career distinction of winning a World Etchells Silver Medal however he has confidently handed over the tiller for the 2012 World championship challenge to his talented sailing mate Vaughan Prentice.
'I’m going to be the wave-break in the bow with the responsibility of making sure there are no stuff-ups with spinnaker sets, gybes and drops'. Bradford said.
While the crew change is interesting it is not expected to remotely affect their boat speed with Vaughan Prentice respected by his rivals as a ‘tough nut’ and is very difficult to roll even when the contest turns into a tactical dog-fight.
In fact the tougher it gets the harder he sails sustaining the required pressure to control the vital centimetres of sailing space which generally decide the critical difference between fair sailing or being committed to execute a time consuming on course penalty for an infringement of the rules.
Both Vaughan Prentice and Mark Bradford have the collective experience of knowing when to ‘crank up’ the boat speed however they will be required to base their tactical strategy on thinking ahead of the game to have their skills rewarded when the high standard fleet line up for the important championship racing over the open ocean courses off Sydney’s Manly Beach from February 20 to 25.
Meanwhile a top place in the Etchells Worlds remains a priority while Black Jack is being prepared to represent Queensland in the Middle Harbour Yacht Clubs Sydney Harbour regatta on similar courses off Sydney Heads on March 10-11.
Black Jack owned by Brisbane businessman Peter Harburg and crewed by a talented team of Queensland sailors will use the Sydney regatta as an important evaluation trial before lining up for the 2012 Brisbane to Gladstone Race on Good Friday April 6th.
'Sydney racing sets the benchmark for testing the IRC rating and we have nominated Black Jack to see where we are at in terms of being on the pace' Mark Bradford said.
Apart from contesting the Surf to City (Southport to Sandgate) race in January Black Jack has been resting in her cradle for the past eight months while owner Peter Harburg pursued the passion of car racing in Europe.
Now they are back on the IRC racing circuit and are fully prepared to face a searching test when the sails are tensioned for the Grand Prix class honours next month against a competitive fleet which includes the 2011 Audi Australian Champion Hooligan and the Rolex Sydney Hobart champion Loki.