Gill Surf to City Yacht Race 2014 - All roads lead to Rome normally, but at this time of the year the channels heading down inside the Moreton Bay Islands are beautifully clogged with a bumper crop of the east coast’s finest yachts. Days of steady but fresh easterlies in t-shirt weather have got us all chomping at the bit to get down there, and if the evidence of all the late entries is anything to go by, it may be time to move your houseboat somewhere safer than the moorings of Jacobs Well.
The Coasties are keen
The 2014 Gill Surf to City Yacht Race is one of the biggest on the local calendar, and most sailors have realised by now that the cruise down to Southport Yacht Club startline is as much fun as the race back to Queensland Cruising Yacht Club’s finish line. Reports have come in already of boats rafted up at the sandhills of Moreton Island, inside 'Straddie', in the 'Bedroom', and for the crews that reckon they deserve a hot and not salty shower, a small fleet is docking tomorrow night at the refurbished Couran Cove Resort on South Stradbroke Island.
Enough of the fun, what about the racers you ask?
The outside ocean race course will be long but fun in a 15 knot south-easter but the growing swell should slow some of the little boats down. In the monohulls, the big canting keeler and ex Volvo 70 Blackjack will be the line honours favourite, with the guys still high on their awesome Sydney Hobart performance where they passed some of the world’s fastest boats without a mainsail. This must surely scare the aussie sailmakers (including skipper Mark Bradford) who might only get orders this year for big code zeroes and pretty canvas boom tents. Crowd favourites like Sweetheart and the spruced up Bobbys Girl might be on the hammer for handicap honours though.
Andrew and Carmen hanging on to the kids
The outside multihull fleet is high quality with plenty of podium boats from the last national titles here, and this race seen as a great trainer for the Huge 2014 50th Brisbane to Gladstone Race. Andrew Stransky’s home built Fantasia belies her heritage from a home build on the shores of mosquito hammered Russell Island, and in a few years has crossed 5000 nautical miles of water to win our the Airlie Beach national titles and a heap of Asian gold as well. Local hero Phil Day is keen to wipe his losing Airlie Beach Race Week tracks from his GPS and show that Rhythmic can get in to the swing of things and bust Fantasia’s bubble.
Mad Max - there can be no sequel
On the inside multihull course we could even see another race record crash this year in the nuking sea-smoke coming off the leeward bow of Tony Considine’s all carbon catamaran Mad Max. I haven’t seen the windward one in the water, and usually only see sterns, but the emerging talented crew led by monohull convert David Turton on the recently launched Box Boat Move It are keen to get both of those bows behind them, or at least get into the handicap honours. The smaller trimarans that have been doing well in this event in recent years will have to work hard in the sliding conditions on perennial winners like Coco Loco and Jag.
Replacement RL for Steve
Any number of hot sports boats and trailer sailors could bounce off the banks to get the honours this year. My money is on the Barney Army after some of their recent inspirational efforts up north with the entire family on board, but Steve North on Go Again, his replacement RL24 for the boat he sank and lost in this race a few years back will try and blockade the army. Over the line, the eerily named Bad Grandpa Stealth 7 of Noel Leigh-Smith has his gold coast rock star crew on board with the big kites packed and loaded.
Gotta go, my ride just arrived!
BlackJack ripping it up
Runner up 2013 nationals Hot Option will work hard to sail to her handicap
Jag after scooping the pool of last year's events
Bobbys Girl after a colour change