One thousand, three hundred and thirty seven previous Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht races. That is the total number of previous races the collective crews that will line up for the Good Friday start have under their belt. It is a pretty impressive number by any account but the question on the lips of many a spectator will be, does experience alone bring success?
If it does, my money would be on Patriot who, between the ten crew, boasts one hundred and twenty six race starts alone. Tony Love, the owner and skipper of Patriot competed in the first of his twenty one starts in 1964. The race start that year was deferred by 24 hours owing to gale warnings. Line Honours for the year was taken in record time by Ilina owned by media man Rupert Murdoch who beat Enid to the finish; both yachts broke the previous race record. The race was won on corrected time by the Alan Payne designed Tasman Seabird Pagan owned at the time by Nick Lockyer.
'I have to admit to being seasick and scared for much of the race' Tony told us 'but I was hooked.' Tony joined Maurice Tilley's Sequana for the following season which took in a cruise to Lord Howe Island in Jan 1965 and subsequently for that year's Sydney to Hobart.
This year marks fifty years since Tony’s first race. Among his crew are Peter Lewis and Stuart Markwell who were important members of his team for the 2005 Sydney to Hobart in Sweethart and 2010 in Patriot.
However, it is not entirely about the old guard. Tony is also doing his bit to ensure the future of the sport by having two budding ocean racing yachtsmen,Warwick Hines (17) and Jack McKneviitt(18), in their first ocean race. 'I see it as being very important for owners to foster the interest of younger sailors in sailing offshore as a balance to dinghy racing,' Tony concluded.