by Ian Grant
Spinnaker Tales - Ken Down, a Sunshine Coast blue water sailor has successfully mastered frightening squalls and stormy seas during his successful career of ocean racing.
Ken Down Sailing
His personal seamanship remains unquestioned after surviving the tragic North Sea storm which claimed the lives of 15 fellow competitors during the 1979 Fastnet Race.
The memory of that struggle which ultimately paved the way for the Australian Team to win the symbol of World Ocean racing supremacy The Admirals Cup still remains each time he wears his ‘storm suit’ to challenge natures elements.
During the next 21 days he will be focused on analysing the Queensland coastal weather with his son Lucas as they prepare to contest the 63rd Brisbane to Gladstone race with the Farr 40 class sloop Bribie Star.
Ken Down has often said – 'He has a score to settle after provisionally winning the 1979 Gladstone race on the water then losing the chance to sip Rum and Coke from the prestigious Courier-Mail Cup after a protest committee found Hot Bubbles had breached a rule on the start line.
This was a disappointing result for Ken Down and Mal Dawson the owner skipper of Hot Bubbles 11.
The 2011 coastal classic contested over 308 nautical miles presents the veteran offshore sailor with a new challenge.
In fact the father and son combination will become embroiled in a tactically demanding match race to repair some wounded pride from last year when Bribie Star finished third behind the David Lambourne helmed Lambourdini and the David Elliott skippered Eleven to decide Queensland’s fastest Farr 40.
Based on the 2010 result Lambourdini holds the ‘Bragging Rites’ with a marginal .08 knot speed advantage over Elleven while Bribie Star was another .04 knots off the pace.
Both Ken Down and son Lucas believe that Bribie Star will be on the pace when the second by second Farr 40 class match race begins on Good Friday (April 22).
Meanwhile the Bribie Star crew will need to make sure they make the right sail selection and pack the speed sailing spinnakers because Lambourdini and their other class rivals have upgraded their boat speed with consistent results in short course racing on Moreton Bay.
Race honours have been shared on the bay and the Lambourdini crew are aware that they will need to again be on the pace to retain their title as the best Farr 40 offshore racing combination.
Their marginal 2.9 seconds per nautical mile speed advantage stands to be challenged with their rival crews on David Elliott’s Ellleven, Ken Down’s Bribie Star, the John Lehman helmed Bobbie’s Girl and Russell Mc Cart’s Night Nurse all prepared to become engaged in a tactical dog fight for the honour of being Queensland’s fastest Farr 40 class offshore racing combination.