by Ian Grant
A wet and windy forecast promises to provide the 32nd Bay to Bay fleet with a supreme test of exciting sailing conditions on The Great Sandy Straits this weekend.
This classic two day race is from Tin Can Bay to Hervey Bay (Qld), with an overnight stop at Garry’s anchorage on Fraser Island.
The fleet includes many of Australia’s fastest day sailing mono and multihull yachts with Sunshine Coast boat builder Julian Griffiths in Hot Vindaloo favoured to stage a class match race with the Darryl Dorsett skippered catamaran Pork Chop.
Based on the forecast both skippers are expecting to have their crews drenched in spray as they set up a challenge against the present multihull class record set by Sunshine Coast skipper George Owen in 2009, when he steered the Victorian catamaran APC Mad Max at a hull blistering pace.
The connections of APC Mad Max have accepted the Notice of Race and could be nominated as a late entry when Race Director Colin Verrall briefs the crews with the final instructions and weather forecast at Tin Can Bay on Saturday morning.
Colin Verrall who has been the principal race officer for all 32 Bay to Bay Classics has progressively seen the mono and multihull fastest times challenged over the past 32 years. He expects the fleet to set another fast time.
Specialist sports boat skipper, the former French Kiss America's Cup sailor Pierre Gal, has been nominated as a likely record challenger in the mono class fleet with his super fast self designed 8m sports boat Kiss.
Gal and his Kiss crew, who race under the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club burgee, won the Airlie Beach Race Week Sports Boat championship by a comfortable margin last August.
They were the star performers when the breeze gusted above 15 knots and with a similar strong wind forecast for the Great Sandy Strait this weekend should allow the Kiss crew to again sail in the fast lane.
Only time will tell if their performance will be fast enough to outsail their high .916 Performance based handicap to win the race on corrected time.
A similar performance over the Bay to Bay course suggests that the Kiss crew would be capable of winning the line honours and corrected handicap double.
However there are a number of equally impressive challengers, including specialist Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club Blazer class skipper Chris Annear in Feral and the former Brisbane to Gladstone Courier Mail Cup winner Bruce Tardrew in No Limits.
No Limits can also set a consistently fast speed in the stronger wind range and providing her aggressive skipper avoids spending time recovering from frightening wild uncontrolled broaches, then No Limits has the speed potential to be rated among the handicap contenders.